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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Bava Metzia 97



(a) In a case where the bucket that a Sho'el had borrowed broke, Rav Papa ruled - that if he brought witnesses that he had not abused it, he would be exempt from having to pay.

(b) Rav Ashi did not know what to say in a case where mice ganged up against a borrowed cat and killed it. Rav Mordechai however, cited Avimi from Hagrunya - who compared the case to a man who was overcome and killed by a gang of women. Effectively, he exempted him from having to pay.

(c) In the second Lashon, the cat died from eating too many mice. This time - Avimi from Hagrunya compared it to a man who died from excessive intimacy. Here again, he meant to exempt the Sho'el, because on both occasions, the cat cannot be expected to succumb, and it was a regular case of Meisah Machmas Melachah.

(a) Rava advises ...
1. ... an astute borrower who wishes to exempt himself from liability - to ask the lender to bring him a glass of water as he acquires the article he is borrowing.
2. ... an equally astute lender who wishes to ensure that the borrower remains liable - to postpone the favor until after the Kinyan has been safely effected.
(b) Rava issued a statement about a children's Rebbe, a Shasla, a butcher, an Umna and a barber (or a Sofer).
1. 'A Shasla' is someone who plants vineyards in return for half the benefits.
2. 'An Umna' is a bloodletter.
(c) All of these, says Rava, are considered She'eilah be'Ba'alim should anyone borrow anything from them at a time during the hours that they are normally busy with their work (see Rosh Si'man
(a) When the Rabbanan of Rava's Beis-Hamedrash said to Rava that he was 'lent to them', they meant - that seeing as he was Meshubad to teach them Torah at all times, anything that they borrowed from him would always be She'eilah be'Ba'alim.

(b) Rava reacted to this - with annoyance.

(c) And he responded - by pointing out to them that the opposite was true. Because in fact, it was they, who were obligated to learn whichever Masechta he chose, and who were therefore Meshubad to him, and not he (who had the right to learn whichever Masechta he chose) to them.

(d) We rule like Rava for the majority of the year, but not in Iyar and Elul during the Yarchei Kalah D'rashos, when Rava had to Darshen the Halachos that were relevant that time of year.

(a) The mule that Mereimar bar Chanina rented to the Bei Chuza'i - died as a result of their negligence.

(b) Rava was embarrassed after pronouncing them liable to pay - because Mereimar bar Chanina had helped them to load the animal, in which case it was She'eilah be'Ba'alim, and he ought to have exempted them from paying.

(c) He subsequently discovered however - that Mereimar's intentions had been to ensure that they do not overload his mule (in which case he was working for himself and not for the Bei Chuza'i, and it was no longer a case of She'eilah be'Ba'alim).

(d) To accommodate those who hold 'Peshi'ah be'Ba'alim Chayav', we amend the case - to where it was not due to their carelessness that the mule had died, but after it was stolen, it died naturally in the house of the Ganav.

(a) In a case where someone borrows a cow for half a day and rents it for the other half, and it dies, if the owner claims that it died during the period that it was borrowed, and the Shomer claims that he doesn't know - our Mishnah obligates the Shomer to pay, based on the principle 'Bari ve'Shema, Bari Adif'.

(b) The same will apply if he borrowed the cow for one day and hired it for another, and the owner claims that it died on the day that it was borrowed ... . The third case presented by the Tana is - if the Shomer borrowed one cow and hired another, and the owner claims that the borrowed cow died ... .

(c) The Tana rules that, in a case where ...

1. ... the owner claims that the borrowed cow died, and the Shomer counters that it was the cow that was hired that died - the Shomer must substantiate his claim with a Shevu'ah, and is Patur from paying.
2. ... neither knows which one died - 'Yachloku' (they share the losses) ...
(d) ... because he holds 'Mamon ha'Mutal be'Safek Cholkin'.



(a) In a case where Reuven claims a Manah from Shimon, and Shimon replies that he doesn't know, Rav Huna and Rav Yehudah obligate him to pay, conforming with the first set of cases of our Mishnah. Rav Nachman and Rebbi Yochanan rule - that he is exempt from paying.

(b) Rav Huna and Rav Yehudah's ruling is based on the principle 'Bari ve'Shema, Bari Adif (as we explained earlier), Rav Nachman and Rebbi Yochanan's on - 'ha'Motzi me'Chaveiro Alav ha'Re'ayah' (One cannot extract mony from someone's domain without a clear proof that the money belongs to him).

(c) To reconcile the latter pair with out Mishnah, we cite another ruling of Rav Nachman, who rules in a case where Reuven claimed a Manah from Shimon, that Shimon is Chayav to pay - when there was an 'Eisek Shevu'ah' between them, meaning that Reuven claimed a Manah from Shimon, and Shimon admitted to half the claim, and did not know about the other half. This obligates him to swear, and since he cannot swear, he has to pay. And our Mishnah speaks under similar circumstances, as we shall now see.

(d) 'Eisek Shevu'ah' is based on the principe 'Mitoch she'Eini Yachol Lishava Meshalem' (someone who is obligated to swear but cannot, swear must pay).

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