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Bava Metzia, 45


QUESTION: The Gemara (44a) teaches that in his youth, Rebbi maintained that gold was considered currency with regard to silver, and, therefore, doing an act of acquisition on silver effects the Kinyan and obligates the buyer to pay gold. Later, Rebbi retracted this view and decided that the opposite is true: silver is considered currency and gold is considered merchandise. The wording of our Mishnah reflects Rebbi's final ruling (even though the wording of the Mishnah in the Yerushalmi reflects his earlier ruling, and, indeed, the name of the Perek there is "ha'Kesef" and not "ha'Zahav").

All of the Rishonim rule like Rebbi's final decision, and in accordance with the text of our Mishnah. Even though the Gemara (44b) concludes that we see from a Beraisa that gold is considered currency, nevertheless it seems from a number of places in the Gemara that the Gemara follows the view of Rebbi in his later years and considers gold to be merchandise when compared with silver.

The Gemara cites a Mishnah (Ma'aser Sheni 2:7) in which Beis Shamai states that one cannot redeem silver coins of Ma'aser Sheni with gold coins. Beis Hillel argues and permits redeeming silver coins of Ma'aser Sheni with gold coins. The Gemara explains this Mishnah in three different ways. According to all of the explanations, though, Beis Hillel seems to view gold as merchandise and silver as currency, for Beis Hillel permits redeeming silver coins of Ma'aser Sheni with gold coins, and we know that Ma'aser Sheni must be redeemed only with currency (outside of Yerushalayim) and not with Peros (merchandise). Not only does this conflict with the ruling of all of the Poskim, the Gemara does not even use it as proof for the ruling of Rebbi in his youth! Why is the opinion of Beis Hillel not a clear proof for the ruling of Rebbi in his youth, that silver is considered merchandise and gold is considered currency?


(a) The ROSH (4:1, and in TOSFOS HA'ROSH) writes that according to Rebbi's later ruling, there is no such Mishnah, and Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel never argued over this point. Beis Hillel will agree that one cannot redeem silver coins with gold coins.

The RASHBA and TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ write that just as Rebbi reversed the phrase in our Mishnah in his later years, he also reversed the opinions in the Mishnah in Ma'aser Sheni. Thus, it was *Beis Hillel* who prohibited redeeming silver with gold, and Beis Shamai who permitted it. (According to this opinion, it is not clear why this Mishnah was not included in the list of Chumros of Beis Hillel, in the fourth Perek of Eduyos.)

(b) The PNEI YEHOSHUA suggests that the opinion of Beis Hillel as it appears in the Mishnah can be reconciled with Rebbi's later opinion, that silver is considered currency. The reason silver is considered currency in relation to gold with regard to purchasing is because silver is used more frequently as currency. The fact that gold is more important does not override that factor, since the power of Kinyan is determined by what is used more as a currency. However, with regard to Ma'aser Sheni, the primary factor that determines whether we can redeem one object with another is not the utility of the coin, but the importance of the coin. A coin of a material that is more important can be used to redeem a coin of lesser importance. That is why Beis Hillel permits redeeming silver coins with gold coins.

The BA'AL HA'ME'OR uses a similar logic to reconcile the Mishnah in Ma'aser Sheni with Rebbi's later opinion.

(The Ba'al ha'Me'or writes that this is true even if Beis Hillel permits redeeming fruit with gold coins. Even though gold is considered a currency with regard to Ma'aser Sheni, it is not considered a currency with regard to purchasing. The Pnei Yehoshua argues that if gold can be used to redeem fruit, then Beis Hillel is indeed arguing with Rebbi's later ruling that gold is considered merchandise in relation to silver.)

(c) TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ (also cited by the Ritva) writes a similar distinction between redemption of Ma'aser and purchasing. He writes that even if gold is considered merchandise, the Chachamim permitted redeeming Ma'aser Sheni with gold coins in order to facilitate taking the Ma'aser Sheni to Yerushalayim, since one gold coin weighs less than the equivalent value of silver coins. (This is more easily understood according to the opinions in the Rishonim here who say that mid'Oraisa it is permitted to redeem Ma'aser Sheni with any non-consumable item. The Torah prohibits redeeming Ma'aser Sheni with fruits only because they will spoil before the owner arrives in Yerushalayim. The Chachamim instituted that one should redeem Ma'aser Sheni only with coins lest one redeem Ma'aser Sheni with fruit (see Ritva). The Chachamim provided an exception to this rule with regard to gold coins in order to make it easier to carry the Ma'aser Sheni to Yerushalayim.)

The Ritva explains that this is true only according to the opinion that maintains that Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel argue even with regard to redeeming fruit with gold coins. Beis Shamai, who prohibits redeeming fruit with gold coins, is not equating the Halachos of redeeming Ma'aser Sheni to the Halachos of purchasing, because everyone agrees that when compared to fruit, gold is considered currency, and therefore it *should* be permitted to redeem fruit with gold coins. The reason Beis Shamai prohibits doing so is because of the stringency of the Chachamim which was applied to Ma'aser Sheni. Just as Beis Shamai distinguishes between redeeming Ma'aser Sheni and purchasing by being Machmir with regard to Ma'aser Sheni, Beis Hillel also distinguishes between them -- by being *lenient* with regard to Ma'aser Sheni.

(d) The RAMBAN writes that according to the last two explanations in the Gemara for the Machlokes between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel, Beis Hillel permits redeeming silver coins of Ma'aser Sheni with gold coins because of the verse that teaches that it is permitted to redeem with "Kesef Sheni," a second round of coins which redeem the first. The Ramban explains that this verse not only teaches that one may redeem a coin of Ma'aser Sheni with a coin that is a more liquid currency, but that one may redeem a coin of Ma'aser Sheni on *any* coin, even one that is less liquid. This is why they permit redeeming silver with gold, even though gold is considered merchandise in relation to silver with regard to purchasing; gold is considered a coin with relation to purchasing fruits, so we can learn from the verse regarding Ma'aser Sheni that it is permitted to redeem any other coin, even silver, with a gold coin.


QUESTION: The Gemara discusses whether coins may be used to accomplish a Kinyan Chalipin.

We know from our Mishnah that coins cannot be used to accomplish a Kinyan Kesef with moveable objects. (According to Reish Laskish, the Torah only recognizes Meshichah and not Kesef as a Kinyan,; according to Rebbi Yochanan, the Torah recognizes Kesef as a Kinyan but the Rabanan annulled it and instituted Meshichah in its stead.)

If coins can be used to accomplish a Kinyan Chalipin, when will we say that coins *do* acquire moveable objects because they have made a Kinyan Chalipin and when will we say that they *do not* acquire moveable objects since Kinyan Kesef does not work for Metaltelin? Both Kinyanim are done in the same exact manner!


(a) RASHI here (and in the end of the Mishnah) implies that the type of Kinyan one is making is determined by the wording he uses. If one explicitly states that he is giving the money for accomplishing a Chalipin, then the money will be Koneh (if coins can accomplish Chalipin), while if he does not it will not be Koneh. This also appears to be the opinion of the RIF.

(b) TOSFOS (46a DH Shema Mina) and the TOSFOS HA'ROSH (ibid.) first explain like Rashi, then add that perhaps it will be considered Kinyan Chalipin if the recipient of the coins immediately returns them. Returning them would imply that the coins were like a Sudar, a cloth which is used for Chalipin, which is given to the seller only as a "Matanah Al Menas l'Hachzir," with the intention for it to accomplish the Kinyan and then be returned (see Nedarim 48b).

(c) The TOSFOS HA'ROSH there cites the RIVAM, who offers another distinction between the Kinyanim. Rivam writes that coins will be considered Chalipin only if (1) the *buyer* mentions the Kinyan as he gives them over; for example, "I am giving this amount of money in order to acquire this object," and (2) if the coins and the merchandise are both present. On the other hand, if the *seller* quotes a price at one point, and the buyer later hands over money without specifying why the money is being given, it can only be considered Kinyan Kesef, which is not effective for acquiring moveable objects.

(The Tosfos ha'Rosh objects to this explanation.)

QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that coins cannot be used to accomplish a Kinyan Chalipin, since one receives a coin "has in mind the impression that was stamped on the coin, and the impression will eventually be invalidated (when a new king comes to power and requires a new stamp, invalidating the old one)."

How does this explain why a coin cannot be used for Chalipin? What does it matter if the impression will eventually become invalidated, if presently it is legal tender?


(a) RASHI (DH Mishum) explains that since a coin can become invalidated by a new king, it is considered to be an "incomplete" item, a "Davar she'Eino Mesuyam," which may not be used to accomplish a Chalipin. It may be compared to a slice of fruit, which cannot be used for Chalipin even according to those who normally permit using fruits to accomplish a Chalipin.

The RAMBAN points out that this logic only explains why a coin cannot be used to *accomplish* a Chalipin, but not why a coin cannot be *acquired through* Chalipin (for example, if someone hands over a Kli to be Koneh another person's coins), since we do not find that one can only acquire through Chalipin "whole" objects. Yet the Gemara later concludes that coins cannot be acquired through Chalipin just as they cannot accomplish Chalipin!

(The MACHANEH EFRAYIM (Kinyan Chalipin #3) suggests that Rashi might hold like the TESHUVOS HA'RASHBA (1:1104), who writes that one cannot even *acquire* a Davar she'Eino Mesuyam through Chalipin.)

(b) The RAMBAN and RITVA explain that the Gemara means to say Chalipin can only be accomplished with an object that has value in its own right, and not simply by international convention. Coins are not viewed by the buyer and seller as slabs of silver and gold, but as acceptable currency. Yet currency has no inherent value (just like today's paper bills); as soon as a king changes the mintage, the old coins lose their value as currency. Therefore coins cannot be used to accomplish a Kinyan Chalipin. They are similar to Shetaros, which the Gemara tells us are "Ein Gufan Mamon" (Bava Kama 117b), not inherently valuable, but attributed a value by what is written in them (Ramban).

This point is learned from the fact that the Torah mentions the use of a "shoe" for Chalipin (see Gemara 47a). Just as a shoe has inherent value, so, too, any object used for Chalipin must have inherent value [and just like the field which was purchased with the shoe has inherent value, so, too, any object that is purchased with Chalipin must have inherent value] (Ritva).

Alternatively, this point is based on logic alone. People do not depend on something as "inconstant" as a coin, and therefore they do not attach to it enough importance for it to accomplish, or be acquired with, a Kinyan Chalipin (CHINUCH Mitzvah #336; see also CHIDUSHEI HA'RITVA Yeshanos here).

The Ramban adds that Rashi might also agree to this analysis. He explained the Gemara differently only because *Rav Papa* was the author of the Gemara's statement that coins cannot be used for Chalipin, and he himself said (shortly afterwards in the Gemara) that although coins cannot be used to *accomplish* Chalipin, they *can* be acquired through Chalipin. According to that view, Rashi's explanation is indeed valid. However, according to the view (to which Rav Papa himself eventually subscribed) that coins cannot even be acquired through Chalipin, it is clear that coins are not just a "Davar she'Eino Mesuyam." Rather, they are not considered to have inherent value, and therefore they can neither be used to accomplish Chalipin, nor become acquired through Chalipin.

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