1

The following rules apply when brothers or partners come to divide a field, with each taking a portion. If the field was all of equal value, without one place being better and another worse, but instead it was all the same, the field is divided by measure. If one of the partners said: "Give me my portion on this side so that it will be close to another field which I own, so that they will be one large field, " his request is heeded, and we compel the other partner to grant him this privilege. For holding back in such a situation would be a reflection of the traits of Sodom.

If, however, one portion was of a higher quality than the other, closer to a river or to a path, and the two portions were evaluated, the good being made equivalent to the bad, and one of the partners asked that he be granted a portion on a particular side, we do not heed his request. Instead, they receive their portions by lot.

If one said to them: "Give me only half the measure of the entire property although I am being given from the lower quality portion without the field being evaluated, and you can receive the half of higher quality, so that my portion will be closer to me field, " the Geonim ruled that his request is heeded. My conception also leans toward this conclusion. It is appropriate to rule in this manner.

2

When a firstborn participates in the division of a property, he is granted both his shares together. When, however, a yevam divides his father's estate together with his brothers, he is allotted both his portion and his brother's portion by lottery. If he is allotted both of these portions together, this is his allotment. And if he is allotted them in separate places, that is his allotment.

3

When a property is surrounded by a river on its east and north sides and by a path on its south and west sides, it is divided on a diagonal. In this way, each person receives access to a river and a path. If one of the partners requested: "Give me my portion on this side, because it is next to my field, his request is heeded. The general principle is: Whenever there is a matter which provides benefit to one party, but does not cause a colleague a loss at all, we compel the colleague to comply.

4

When one of a group of brothers or partners sells his portion to another individual, the other brothers or partners may remove that individual from his purchase. They must pay him the price he paid, but he must depart. This privilege was granted to prevent a foreign party from entering among them.

5

This is not the limit of this principle. Even when a person sells property which he owns to another person, his colleague, the owner of the property neighboring his, has the right to pay the purchase price to the buy and remove him from his purchase. The purchaser who comes from afar is considered as the agent of the neighbor.

This applies whether the original owner's agent conducted the sale, or whether the property was sold by the court, the privilege of a neighbor is granted. Even if the purchaser was a Torah scholar, a non-immediate neighbor,and a relative of the seller, while the neighbor was an unlearned learned person with no family connections to the seller, the neighbor receives priority and may remove the purchaser.

This practice stems from the charge Deuteronomy 6:18: "And you shall do what is just and good. " Our Sages said: "Since the sale is fundamentally the same, it is 'just and good,' that the property should be acquired by the neighbor, instead of the person living further away."

If there are many neighbors, all have a right to acquire the property which was sold. It is divided among them equally, according to their number, and they all must reimburse the buyer for the purchase price.

This applies provided they all come at the same time. If, however, one comes and purchases the property from the buyer, he alone acquires it, for he is a neighbor. Similarly, if some of the neighbors comes and purchase it and others are in a distant country, those who are present are entitled to purchase it and it becomes theirs.

Similarly, if a person sells a property to one neighbor or one of his business partners, even if he is not a partner in the ownership of landed property, that person acquires it. The other partners or neighbors do not have the right to acquire it together with him.

6

When a person sells all his properties to one person, a person whose property borders on one of the fields that were sold does not have the right to displace the purchaser from that field, for he purchased it and the other fields at once.

Similarly, when a person sells a field to its original owners, or when one purchases it from a gentile, the neighbor is not given the right to purchase it.

7

When a person sells property to a gentile, the seller is placed under a ban of ostracism until he accepts responsibility for any loss that the gentile might cause his neighbors and the gentile agrees conduct himself in relation to his neighbors according to Jewish law in all matters. If the gentile compels a neighbor to accept a loss for which he would not be responsible according to Jewish law, the seller is compelled to make restitution.

8

The rights of a neighbor do not apply with regard to the rental of property.

9

When a person designates a property as security, and afterwards sells it to the person to whom he had designated it as security, the neighbors are not given the right to displace the purchaser.

Similarly, the neighbors are not given the right to displace the purchaser when a person sells a property because it is located far from him in order to purchase another that is located closer, when the seller sold a less valuable property in order to use the proceeds of the sale to purchase a more valuable one, when he sold a property to pay his taxes to the king, or when a property was sold to pay for burial expenses or the support of the owner's widow or daughters. Instead, the purchaser acquires the property.

10

Why are the neighbors not given the right to displace the purchaser? For in all these situations, the seller is very anxious to sell the property, and he is selling it because of a dire need. If the neighbors were given the right to displace the purchaser, no one would ever be willing to purchase property. For the purchaser will say; "Why should I trouble myself to purchase this property? So that the neighbor will come and displace me? " And the seller will not be able to wait until the neighbor brings money and purchases it.

11

The following rules apply when the purchaser claims that the seller sold the property to him because he was pressed for funds to pay a tax or the like, and the neighbor claims that he is lying and fabricating a story in order to nullify his right. The neighbor is responsible for proving his claim. Only then can he expropriate the property from the purchaser. If the neighbor does not prove his claim, the purchaser must support his claim with a sh'vuat hesset.

12

Even if the purchaser does not have a definite claim concerning the matter, the purchaser cannot be compelled to relinquish his purchase unless the neighbor brings clear-cut proof. Therefore, if the purchaser claims "You have stolen the field that you claim to be your own," "You are merely a sharecropper," "a renter," or "received it as security," the neighbor must prove that he is a neighbor and that he has established his claim to the property he alleges to own. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

13

When a person sells property to orphans below the age of majority,the neighbor is not given the right to displace the purchaser. For "goodness and justice" is to act generously toward such individuals more than a neighbor.

14

Similarly, when a person sells property to a woman, the neighbor is not given the right to displace the purchaser. The rationale is that it is not customary for women to trouble themselves frequently to purchase property. Hence, since a woman did make such an effort, and purchased property, it is an act of kindness to allow her to retain ownership of it.

15

If property was sold to a tumtum and an androgynous, a neighbor is given the right to displace them, because they may be women.

16

The following laws apply when the land of a property is owned by one individual and the building or the trees situated upon it is owned by another. If the owner of the building or the trees has privileges with regard to the land, each of them is considered to be the other's neighbor. Therefore, if either of them sold his portion, his colleague has the right to displace the purchaser.

Different rules apply when, by contrast, the owner of the trees or the building does not have any right to the land, and whenever he desires the owner of the land may tell the owner of the trees or the building: "Uproot your trees," or "Destroy your building." If the owner of the field sells his property, the purchaser acquires his purchase. Neither the owner of the trees nor the owner of the building has the right to displace him. If the owner of the trees or the owner of the building sells his possession, the owner of the land has the right to displace him.

17

The following rules serve as guidelines when a row of date palms, a tall and sturdy building, a ditch, or the like separate between a person's property and the property border of a colleague: We see if it is possible to plant even one row of produce within the intervening entity, so that the two fields would be joined. If so, he is considered a neighbor, and he has the right to displace the purchaser. If not, he may not displace the purchaser.