THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
Ask A Question about the Daf
1) MULTI-GENERATIONAL INHERITANCE OF A DEBT
OPINIONS: The Mishnah (45a) states that the orphans of a person to whom a
debt is owed may collect the debt owed to their father only by taking an
oath. The Gemara explains that this refers to a case in which the orphans of
a lender are trying to collect money from the orphans of a borrower. In such
a case, the orphans can collect (when they have a Shtar or witnesses
attesting to the debt) by making a Shevu'ah that their father never told
them that the debt was paid, nor that they ever saw a document stating that
the debt was paid.
Rav and Shmuel rule that this is the law in a case in which the lender died
first. When the borrower died first, before the lender, the loan is no
longer collectable. There is a Halachah that a person does not bequeath to
his heirs the rights to collect a debt which he could collect only by taking
an oath. Since a person may collect a debt from orphans only by taking an
oath, he cannot bequeath the collection of that debt to his children. In
contrast, when the lender died first, his heirs do not need to take an oath
in order to collect directly from the borrower, and therefore even when the
borrower dies they retain the ability to collect the debt.
What is the Halachah in a case in which the orphans of the lender themselves
die before collecting the debt from the orphans of the borrower? Do *their*
heirs have the right to collect the debt that their fathers could have
collected, or, since their fathers could have collected the debt only by
taking an oath, they cannot collect the debt?
(a) The Ramban quotes RAV AL'BARGILONI as saying that the third generation
of creditors may no longer collect the debt. This is understandable, as they
cannot take the oath that their fathers needed to take in order to collect.
Their fathers needed to swear that the original lender (their grandfather)
never indicated in any way that this debt was paid back to him. As we stated
above, a person cannot bequeath a debt which is collectable only with an
oath. Rav Al'bargiloni says that all of the Chachamim of his time agreed
that this was the Halachah. Indeed, the RIF and RA'AVAD both rule this way
in their responsa.
The SEFER HA'TERUMOS explains the logic of this opinion further. Why does a
person not bequeath such a debt to his children? We can explain that a
person only bequeaths to his children that which he has in his possession,
or which is going to come into his possession by itself. Money which can be
collected only by taking an oath is not considered his money until he
swears. Consequently, the third generation of heirs cannot inherit the
collection of a debt which their fathers had to swear in order to collect.
This also appears to be the RAN's understanding of Rav Al'bargiloni.
The RAMBAN writes that if, indeed, the Chachamim agreed to the ruling of Rav
Al'bargiloni, then we must accept this ruling. There is reason, however, to
argue on this ruling, the Ramban says. He explains that there is a different
logic for why a person cannot bequeath such a debt to his children. While he
can swear with certainty that he is owed the money, his children cannot
swear with certainty that their father was owed the money. In a case in
which the lender died first, the children do not have to take an oath to
collect directly from the borrower, and therefore they retain the ability to
collect that debt even when the borrower dies. However, in a case in which
the father (the first generation of heirs) was able to swear only that he
*does not recall* his father saying that the debt was paid back, why can he
not bequeath that oath to his son? The oath that he needed to take would be
the same oath that his son would need to take! The Ramban therefore states
that, theoretically, these third-generation orphans also have the right to
collect their grandfather's debt with an oath.
The RITVA says that his Rebbi, the RE'AH, ruled in accordance with the
reasoning of the Ramban. Moreover, he ruled that even though Rav
Al'bargiloni said that the Chachamim agreed with him, the Halachah is that
the third generation of heirs may take the same oath as their fathers would
have taken and they may collect from the second generation of debtors. He
said that this is the proper way to rule, and the Ritva adds that he indeed
saw that the Re'ah ruled this way in practice. This is also the opinion of
the BA'AL HA'ITUR.
(See, however, the Rosh here (7:16), who refutes the ruling of Rav
Al'bargiloni ("ha'Rav ha'Barceloni") and sides with the reasoning of the
Ramban, and the Rosh in Teshuvos (86:4), who explains like the Sefer
ha'Terumos regarding the logic of not bequeathing a debt that requires an
oath.) (Y. Montrose)
2) HALACHAH: ORPHANS WHO CLAIM A LOAN WHEN THE BORROWER DIED BEFORE THE
OPINIONS: We have learned that the heirs of the lender may collect money
from the heirs of the borrower (with witnesses or with a Shtar) only if they
take an oath that their father never told them in any manner that this debt
was repaid. Rav and Shmuel (48a) state that this is the Halachah only when
the lender died before the borrower died. When the borrower died first, the
loan is no longer collectable (see previous Insight for the explanation for
this). Rebbi Elazar argues that even when the borrower died first, the heirs
of the lender may collect with the oath mentioned in the Mishnah.
Rav Chama states that since the Rabanan did not issue any ruling saying that
the Halachah follows either the view of Rav and Shmuel or the view of Rebbi
Elazar, a Dayan who conducts himself in accordance with the view of Rav and
Shmuel is acting appropriately, and a Dayan who conducts himself in
accordance with the view of Rebbi Elazar is also acting accordingly. Rav
Papa adds that in such a case, we do not rule that the heirs of the lender
may collect with their Shtar, because perhaps the Halachah follows the view
of Rav and Shmuel. On the other hand, the Shtar that the heirs of the lender
are holding is not torn up or discarded, because the heirs might yet find a
Dayan who rules like Rebbi Elazar.
What, though, according to Rav Papa, are they supposed to do with the Shtar?
How should the managers of the estate of the orphans pursue the case? Should
they try to find a Dayan who rules like Rebbi Elazar?
(a) The ROSH writes that despite the statements of Rav Chama and Rav Papa,
the Halachah follows the view of Rav and Shmuel, and, therefore, if such a
Shtar is brought before a Dayan, he should tear it up. This is evident, he
says, from the words of the Amora'im in the Gemara who state that we do not
apply Rav and Shmuel's ruling to other, similar cases. The implication of
these statements is that these Amora'im agree that in the specific case
which Rav and Shmuel discussed, the Halachah *does* follow their opinion.
Rav Chama's statement is relevant only when a Dayan happens to rule like
Rebbi Elazar; b'Di'eved, his ruling is binding. L'Chatchilah, though, every
Dayan should judge the case like Rav and Shmuel. This is the Halachah as
cited by the TUR and SHULCHAN ARUCH (CM 108:11).
The AYELES HA'SHACHAR questions the explanation of the Rosh. TOSFOS in Bava
Basra (62b) states that if a Dayan reasons that the Halachah should follow
one of the opinions, he may follow that opinion and rule accordingly. The
Rosh in Sanhedrin (4:6) also states that when there are two viable opinions
in a Halachic argument, a Dayan cannot choose to do whatever he wants (for
if he does so, his ruling is a "Din Sheker," a dishonest ruling). Only when
the Dayan states that according to his understanding, one of the opinions is
more logical and correct, may he may rule in accordance with that opinion.
If, however, he is unsure, then he may not take money away from the party
holding it. If, however, the Dayan ruled without knowing about the dispute
at all, then we may rely on the opinion that his ruling followed.
These guidelines seem applicable only when there is an argument among the
Rabanan concerning the Halachah. A Talmid Chacham may assert that he is
certain that one of the opinions is correct. However, if the *Gemara itself*
says that we do not know which opinion to follow, then it seems that a later
Dayan is *not* entitled to say that he *does* know how to rule. Accordingly,
how can any Dayan rule like Rebbi Elazar (and extract money away from
someone) when the Gemara itself says that we do not know which opinion to
The Ayeles ha'Shachar answers that it must be that the Rosh's ruling that a
Dayan may rule like Rebbi Elazar is pertinent only in the other case the
Rosh mentions in Sanhedrin, the case in which the judge is ignorant of the
entire argument. In such a case, the Dayan may indeed rule as he sees fit.
However, the Ayeles ha'Shachar is not satisfied with this answer. The Rosh's
ruling there applies only when a Dayan is unaware of an argument among
earlier authorities who preceded him. However, the Rosh's ruling certainly
should *not* apply to a Dayan who does not know the explicit Gemara here
which states that "we do not collect with this Shtar," for such a Dayan is
simply an ignoramus whose judgement should have no validity! The Ayeles
ha'Shachar leaves this question unanswered.
(b) RABEINU YEHOSEF HA'LEVI writes in the name of RAV HAI GA'ON that the
custom of the "Rishonim" (referring to the generations before him) was to
rule like Rav and Shmuel. Unlike the Rosh, he adds that if a Dayan rules
like Rebbi Elazar, we do not recognize the ruling at all.
The RAN states that he is uncertain why we should totally disregard such a
ruling. However, we can answer this question with the words of the Ayeles
ha'Shachar mentioned above. The Ayeles ha'Shachar asked (on the opinion of
the Rosh) that we should not accept the ruling of a Dayan who rules like
Rebbi Elazar, because the Gemara itself says that we do not know how to
rule. This, then, seems to be the reasoning behind the ruling of Rav Hai
Ga'on (and the answer to the Ran's question), who says that if a Dayan rules
like Rebbi Elazar, his ruling is not accepted.
(c) The RITVA and the RAN (in the name of "Ketzas me'Raboseinu
ha'Tzarfasim") state that a Dayan should not tear up the Shtar, because it
is still useful: if the orphans seize the money they claim that is owed to
them, we may not take it away from them out of doubt, because perhaps the
Halachah follows the view of Rebbi Elazar.
The Ayeles ha'Shachar questions this view from the Gemara itself. Rav Papa
states that we do not tear up the Shtar, since the orphans might find a
Dayan who rules in accordance with the view of Rebbi Elazar. If Rav Papa
maintains that the orphans may keep the money if they seize it, then why
does he not give that as the reason for why we do not tear up the Shtar
(i.e. in case the orphans seize the money, they will need the Shtar as proof
that they can keep the money)?
The Ayeles ha'Shachar answers this question based on the Rosh's explanation
of the principle of "Avid Inish Dina l'Nafshei" in Bava Kama (1:20) -- a
person may make a judgement for himself (in certain situations) and seize
money that is owed to him without a ruling of Beis Din. The Rosh explains
that in such a situation the person essentially becomes a Dayan himself.
According to this explanation, when the Gemara says that we do not tear up
the Shtar because they might find a Dayan who rules like Rebbi Elazar, it is
referring to a case in which the orphans seize the money that is owed to
them by choosing to become their own "Dayan" through the principle of "Avid
Inish Dina l'Nafshei!"