Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

To’en veNit’an - Chapter 10, To’en veNit’an - Chapter 11, To’en veNit’an - Chapter 12

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To’en veNit’an - Chapter 10


We do not presume that an animal or a beast that is not kept in an enclosed place, but instead roams freely and pastures everywhere, belongs to the person who seizes it if the animal is known to have a prior owner.

What is implied? When a plaintiff brings witnesses who testify that a certain animal is known to belong to him, and the person maintaining possession of the animal claims: "You gave it to me" or "You sold it to me," the defendant's word is not accepted. The fact that the animal is in his possession is not considered proof of ownership, because it is possible that it roamed and entered his domain by itself. Therefore, if the defendant does not bring proof of his acquisition of the animal, it should be returned to its owner. The owner must, however, reinforce his claim by taking an oath.


בְּהֵמָה אוֹ חַיָּה שֶׁאֵינָהּ שְׁמוּרָה אֶלָּא מְהַלֶּכֶת בְּכָל מָקוֹם וְרוֹעָה. אֵינָהּ בְּחֶזְקַת זֶה שֶׁתְּפָסָהּ מֵאַחַר שֶׁהִיא יְדוּעָה לַבְּעָלִים. כֵּיצַד. הֵבִיא הַתּוֹבֵעַ עֵדִים שֶׁהַבְּהֵמָה הַזֹּאת יְדוּעָה לוֹ וְזֶה הַתּוֹפֵס טוֹעֵן אַתָּה נְתַתָּהּ לִי אַתָּה מְכַרְתָּהּ לִי אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן. שֶׁאֵין הֱיוֹתָהּ תַּחַת יָדוֹ רְאָיָה שֶׁהֲרֵי הִיא הָלְכָה מֵעַצְמָהּ וְנִכְנְסָה בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ אִם לֹא הֵבִיא רְאָיָה תַּחְזֹר הַבְּהֵמָה לִבְעָלֶיהָ וְיִשָּׁבַע הֶסֵּת עַל טַעֲנָה זוֹ:


If it was usual for an animal to be kept in an enclosed place or entrusted to a shepherd, we assume that it belongs to the person in whose possession it is found. This applies even if the plaintiff brings witnesses who testify that it belonged to him. Thus, if the person who holds the animal in his possession claims: "You sold it to me" or "You gave it to me," he is required to take a sh'vu'at hesset that it belongs to him, and then he is released of all obligations.


הָיְתָה הַבְּהֵמָה שְׁמוּרָה אוֹ מְסוּרָה לְרוֹעֶה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵבִיא זֶה עֵדִים שֶׁהִיא שֶׁלּוֹ הֲרֵי הִיא בְּחֶזְקַת זֶה שֶׁהִיא תַּחַת יָדוֹ וְאִם טָעַן אַתָּה מְכַרְתָּהּ אוֹ נְתַתָּהּ לִי יִשָּׁבַע הַתּוֹפֵס הֶסֵּת שֶׁהִיא שֶׁלּוֹ וְיִפָּטֵר:


Therefore, the following rules are applied when a person seizes possession of an animal belonging to a colleague that had been kept in an enclosed place or entrusted to a shepherd. If the owner claims: "The animal went out and came to you on its own initiative," "It was entrusted to you for safekeeping," or "It was lent to you," and the person who seized it agrees, saying: "It is not mine, but you owe me this-and-this much," "You gave it to me as security for this-and-this much," or "You owe me such-and-such for damages that you caused my property," his word is accepted if he claims the value of the animal or less. The rationale is that since he could claim that he purchased it, his word is accepted if he lodges another plausible claim. He must, however, take an oath holding a sacred article. Then he may collect his claim.


לְפִיכָךְ מִי שֶׁתָּפַס בֶּהֱמַת חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה שְׁמוּרָה אוֹ בְּיַד רוֹעֶה. וְהַבְּעָלִים טוֹעֲנִין הִיא יָצָאת מֵעַצְמָהּ וּבָאָה אֶצְלְךָ אוֹ פִּקָּדוֹן הִיא בְּיָדְךָ אוֹ שְׁאוּלָה הִיא לְךָ. וְהַתּוֹפֵס אוֹמֵר כֵּן הוּא אֵינָהּ שֶׁלִּי אֲבָל אַתָּה חַיָּב לִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ אוֹ אַתָּה מִשְׁכַּנְתָּהּ בְּיָדִי עַל כָּךְ וְכָךְ אוֹ הִזַּקְתָּ אוֹתִי נֵזֶק שֶׁאַתָּה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם כָּךְ וְכָךְ. יָכוֹל לִטְעֹן עַד כְּדֵי דָּמֶיהָ מִתּוֹךְ שֶׁיָּכוֹל לוֹמַר לְקוּחָה הִיא בְּיָדִי וְיִשָּׁבַע בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ וְיִטּל:


Similar laws apply with regard to servants. Since they can walk independently, the fact that they are in the physical possession of a person is not presumed to be a sign of ownership. Instead, if the plaintiff brings witnesses who testify that it is known that this servant belonged to the plaintiff, the defendant's word is not accepted if he claims: "You sold him to me" or "You gave him to me as a present." Instead, the servant should be returned to its owner. He must, however, take an oath that he did not sell the servant or give him away as a present.

Different rules apply if the defendant who was asserted to have seized possession of the servant brought witnesses who testified that the servant was in his possession, day after day, for three consecutive years, and that the defendant would have him serve him as servants serve their masters. Since the original owner did not raise objections throughout all these years, the defendant's word is accepted. We allow him to maintain possession after he takes a sh'vu'at hesset that he purchased the servant from the original owner or the owner gave the servant to him as a present.

These rules do not apply to a servant who is a young child and cannot walk on his legs because of his youth. He is considered as other types of movable property. We presume that he is owned by the person in whose domain he is located, and we follow the principle: When a person seeks to expropriate property from a colleague, the burden of proof is upon him.


וְכֵן הָעֲבָדִים שֶׁיְּכוֹלִין לְהַלֵּךְ אֵינָן בְּחֶזְקַת זֶה שֶׁהֵן תַּחַת יָדוֹ אֶלָּא כֵּיוָן שֶׁהֵבִיא הַטּוֹעֵן עֵדִים שֶׁזֶּה יָדוּעַ שֶׁהוּא עַבְדּוֹ וְהַלָּה טוֹעֵן אַתָּה מְכַרְתּוֹ לִי אַתָּה נְתַתּוֹ לִי בְּמַתָּנָה אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן וְיַחְזֹר הָעֶבֶד לִבְעָלָיו וְיִשָּׁבַע הַטּוֹעֵן שֶׁלֹּא מָכַר וְלֹא נָתַן. הֵבִיא זֶה הַנִּטְעָן שֶׁתָּפַס הָעֶבֶד עֵדִים שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְזֶה הָעֶבֶד אֶצְלוֹ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים רְצוּפוֹת מִיּוֹם לְיוֹם וְהוּא מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהָעֲבָדִים מְשַׁמְּשִׁין אֶת רַבָּן הוֹאִיל וְלֹא מִחָה בּוֹ בְּכָל אֵלּוּ הַשָּׁנִים הֲרֵי זֶה נֶאֱמָן וּמַעֲמִידִין אוֹתוֹ בְּיָדוֹ אַחַר שֶׁיִּשָּׁבַע הֶסֵּת שֶׁלְּקָחוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ אוֹ נְתָנוֹ לוֹ בְּמַתָּנָה. אֲבָל עֶבֶד קָטָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַלֵּךְ עַל רַגְלָיו מִפְּנֵי קַטְנוּתוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא כִּשְׁאָר הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין וְכָל מִי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא בְּחֶזְקָתוֹ וְהַמּוֹצִיא מֵחֲבֵרוֹ עָלָיו הָרְאָיָה:


As we explained, a plaintiff can alter his statements and offer another claim if it is plausible. To apply that concept to the issues at hand: A person issued a claim against a colleague, stating: "This garment...", "This animal...", or "This servant that is in your possession belongs to me. It was lent to you," "... it is stolen," "... I entrusted it to you," or "... I rented it to you."

The defendant claimed, "No. It is my money. I inherited it." The plaintiff then brought witnesses who testified that they know that this article, servant, or animal is known to belong to the plaintiff. The defendant then countered and replied: "Yes. It was yours, but you gave it to me..." or "... you sold it to me. I said: 'I inherited it,' not because I inherited it from my father, but that my ownership is so strong that it is as if I inherited it." The defendant's claim is accepted provided that he supports it by taking a sh'vu'at hesset.


הַטּוֹעֵן אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ וְאָמַר בֶּגֶד אוֹ בְּהֵמָה אוֹ עֶבֶד זֶה שֶׁבְּיָדְךָ שֶׁלִּי הוּא אוֹ שָׁאוּל אוֹ גָּזוּל אוֹ הִפְקַדְתִּיו אֶצְלְךָ אוֹ שָׂכוּר לְךָ. וְהַנִּטְעָן אָמַר לֹא כִּי אֶלָּא זֶה מָמוֹנִי וִירֻשָּׁתִי. וְהֵבִיא הַטּוֹעֵן עֵדִים שֶׁהֵעִידוּ שֶׁהֵן יוֹדְעִין שֶׁזֶּה הַחֵפֶץ אוֹ הָעֶבֶד אוֹ הַבְּהֵמָה יְדוּעָה שֶׁהִיא הָיְתָה לָזֶה. חָזַר הַנִּטְעָן וְאָמַר כֵּן הָיָה שֶׁלְּךָ אֲבָל אַתָּה נְתַתּוֹ לִי אוֹ מְכַרְתּוֹ לִי וְזֶה שֶׁאָמַרְתִּי יְרֻשָּׁתִי לֹא שֶׁיְּרַשְׁתִּיו מֵאֲבוֹתַי אֶלָּא שֶׁהִיא שֶׁלִּי כְּאִלּוּ יְרַשְׁתִּיו. הֲרֵי זֶה נֶאֱמָן וְנִשְׁבָּע הֶסֵּת. שֶׁכְּבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לַטּוֹעֵן לַחְזֹר לִטְעֹן דָּבָר הַנִּשְׁמָע:


The following laws apply when two people are contending with regard to a boat or the like, each claiming: "It belongs entirely to me." If they come to the court and one asks the court: "Take possession of it until I bring witnesses to support my claim," the court should not take possession of it.

If the court took possession of it, that person went and did not find witnesses, and returned and asked: "Leave it for us as before, and whoever will overcome the other will acquire it, as was the law before," it does not heed the request. Instead, the court does not release it from its possession until a claimant brings witnesses who support his claim, one acknowledges the truth of the other's claim, or they willingly agree to divide it after taking an oath, as we have explained.


סְפִינָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ שֶׁהָיוּ שְׁנַיִם נֶחְלָקִין עָלֶיהָ זֶה אוֹמֵר כֻּלָּהּ שֶׁלִּי וְזֶה אוֹמֵר כֻּלָּהּ שֶׁלִּי וּבָאוּ לְבֵית דִּין וְאָמַר אֶחָד תִּפְסוּהָ עַד שֶׁאָבִיא עֵדִים אֵין תּוֹפְסִין אוֹתָהּ. וְאִם תְּפָסוּהָ בֵּית דִּין וְהָלַךְ וְלֹא מָצָא עֵדִים וְאָמַר הַנִּיחוּהָ בֵּינֵינוּ וְכָל הַמִּתְגַּבֵּר יִטּל כְּשֶׁהָיָה דִּינָהּ מִקֹּדֶם אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לָהֶן וְאֵין מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָהּ בֵּית דִּין מִיָּדָן עַד שֶׁיָּבִיאוּ עֵדִים אוֹ עַד שֶׁיּוֹדוּ זֶה לָזֶה אוֹ יַחֲלֹקוּ בִּרְצוֹנָם וּבִשְׁבוּעָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

To’en veNit’an - Chapter 11


Whenever landed property is known to have belonged to a person, we presume that he is the owner even though the property is now in the possession of another person.

What is implied? Reuven was using a courtyard as a person would commonly use his own property, living in it, renting it to others, building and tearing down structures. After a while, Shimon came and lodged a claim against him, saying: "The courtyard that is in your possession belongs to me. I rented it to you," or "... I lent it to you."

Reuven replied: "It was yours, but you sold it to me," or "You gave it to me as a present."

If Shimon does not bring witnesses who testify that it was known to belong to him, Reuven is required to take a sh'vu'at hesset, and he is allowed to retain possession of the courtyard. If, however, Shimon brings witnesses who testify that this field belonged to him, our presumption is that Shimon is the owner. We tell Reuven: "Bring proof that he sold it to you or gave it to you." If he does not bring proof, we force him to leave and establish Shimon as the owner. This law applies even when Reuven does not admit that the field ever belonged to Shimon, because there are witnesses who support Shimon's claim.


כָּל הַקַּרְקָעוֹת הַיְדוּעוֹת לבַעְלֵיהֶן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן עַתָּה תַּחַת יַד אֲחֵרִים הֲרֵי הֵן בְּחֶזְקַת בַּעְלֵיהֶן. כֵּיצַד. רְאוּבֵן שֶׁהָיָה מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בֶּחָצֵר כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהָעָם מִשְׁתַּמְּשִׁין בְּחַצְרוֹתֵיהֶן. דָּר בָּהּ וּמַשְׂכִּירָהּ לַאֲחֵרִים וּבוֹנֶה וְסוֹתֵר. וְאַחַר זְמַן בָּא שִׁמְעוֹן וְטָעַן עָלָיו וְאָמַר לוֹ חָצֵר זוֹ שֶׁתַּחַת יָדְךָ שֶׁלִּי הִיא וּשְׂכוּרָה הִיא בְּיָדְךָ אוֹ שְׁאוּלָה. וֶהֱשִׁיבוֹ רְאוּבֵן שֶׁלְּךָ הָיְתָה וְאַתָּה מְכַרְתָּהּ לִי אוֹ נְתַתָּהּ לִי בְּמַתָּנָה. אִם אֵין עֵדִים לְשִׁמְעוֹן שֶׁהָיְתָה יְדוּעָה לוֹ נִשְׁבָּע רְאוּבֵן הֶסֵּת וְיַעֲמֹד בִּמְקוֹמוֹ. אֲבָל אִם הֵבִיא שִׁמְעוֹן עֵדִים שֶׁחָצֵר זוֹ שֶׁלּוֹ הָיְתָה הֲרֵי הִיא בְּחֶזְקַת שִׁמְעוֹן וְאוֹמְרִין לִרְאוּבֵן הָבֵא רְאָיָה שֶׁמְּכָרָהּ לְךָ אוֹ נְתָנָהּ לְךָ. וְאִם לֹא הֵבִיא רְאָיָה מְסַלְּקִין אוֹתוֹ מִמֶּנָּה וּמַחֲזִיקִין אוֹתָהּ לְשִׁמְעוֹן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין רְאוּבֵן מוֹדֶה לְשִׁמְעוֹן שֶׁהִיא הָיְתָה שֶׁלּוֹ שֶׁהֲרֵי יֵשׁ עֵדִים לְשִׁמְעוֹן:


When do we require Reuven to bring proof that he acquired the field or to depart? When he did not use the property for an extended time. If, however, Reuven brings witnesses who testify that he partook of the produce of this field for three consecutive years and benefited from it in its entirety in the manner in which any person would benefit from that field, we allow Reuven to maintain possession. This applies provided that it was possible for the original owners to know that this person had taken possession of the field, and they did not lodge a protest against him. Reuven must take a sh'vu'at hesset that Shimon sold him the field or gave it to him, and then he is released of all obligation.

The rationale for this decision is that we tell Shimon: "If your claim that you did not sell or give him the property is true, why is this person using your land year after year, when you do not have a legal document stating that it was rented to him or given to him as security for a loan, and yet you have not lodged a protest against him?"

If the plaintiff responds to this by claiming that the news that the other person was using his property did not reach him because he was in a distant country, we tell him: "It is impossible that the information did not reach you in three years. And when the information reached you, you should have lodged a protest in the presence of witnesses, telling them that 'So-and-so stole property from me, and in the future I will lodge a claim against him in court.' Since you did not issue a protest, you caused yourself a loss."

Therefore, if there was a war or a disruption of travel routes between the place where Reuven was located and the place where Shimon was located, we expropriate the property from Reuven even if he benefited from its produce for ten years. We return it to Shimon, because he could say: "I did not know that this person was using my property."


בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים שֶׁמַּצְרִיכִין רְאוּבֵן לְהָבִיא רְאָיָה אוֹ יִסְתַּלֵּק בְּשֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהּ זְמַן מְרֻבֶּה. אֲבָל אִם הֵבִיא עֵדִים שֶׁאָכַל פֵּרוֹת קַרְקַע שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים רְצוּפוֹת וְנֶהֱנָה בְּכֻלָּהּ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁנֶּהֱנִין כָּל אָדָם בְּאוֹתָהּ קַרְקַע. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אֶפְשָׁר לַבְּעָלִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ בָּזֶה שֶׁהֶחְזִיק וְלֹא מִחוּ בּוֹ. מַעֲמִידִין אוֹתָהּ בְּיַד רְאוּבֵן וְיִשָּׁבַע רְאוּבֵן הֶסֵּת שֶׁמְּכָרָהּ לוֹ שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹ נְתָנָהּ לוֹ וְיִפָּטֵר. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאוֹמְרִים לוֹ לְשִׁמְעוֹן אִם אֱמֶת אַתָּה טוֹעֵן שֶׁלֹּא מָכַרְתָּ וְלֹא נָתַתָּ לָמָּה הָיָה זֶה מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ שָׁנָה אַחַר שָׁנָה בְּקַרְקָעֲךָ וְאֵין לְךָ עָלָיו לֹא שְׁטַר שְׂכִירוּת וְלֹא שְׁטַר מַשְׁכּוֹנָהּ וְלֹא מָחִיתָ בּוֹ. טָעַן וְאָמַר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעַ אֵלַי הַדָּבָר שֶׁהֲרֵי הָיִיתִי בִּמְדִינָה רְחוֹקָה אוֹמְרִים אִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא יַגִּיעַ לְיָדְךָ הַדָּבָר בְּשָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לְךָ הָיָה לְךָ לִמְחוֹת בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים וְתוֹדִיעַ אוֹתָם שֶׁפְּלוֹנִי גָּזַל אוֹתִי לְמָחָר אֶתְבָּעֶנּוּ בְּדִין. הוֹאִיל וְלֹא מָחִיתָ אַתָּה הִפְסַדְתָּ עַל עַצְמְךָ. לְפִיכָךְ אִם הָיְתָה מִלְחָמָה וְשִׁבּוּשׁ דְּרָכִים בֵּין הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁהָיָה בּוֹ רְאוּבֵן וּבֵין הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁהָיָה בּוֹ שִׁמְעוֹן אֲפִלּוּ אֲכָלָהּ רְאוּבֵן עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָהּ תַּחַת יָדוֹ וְחוֹזֶרֶת לְשִׁמְעוֹן מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיָּכוֹל לוֹמַר לֹא יָדַעְתִּי שֶׁזֶּה מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בְּקַרְקָעִי:


Even in a situation where there was a war and a breakdown in communication, if Reuven brought witnesses who testify that each year Shimon came and stayed in this place for 30 days or less, we tell Shimon: "Why didn't you protest when you came? You have lost your rights."

If Shimon claims: "I was very much occupied at the business fair and I did not know that so-and-so was in my courtyard," his claim is respected. For it is possible that a person will be occupied at a business fair for 30 days. If he stayed for more than 30 days and did not protest, he loses his rights.

It appears to me that this law applies only in the villages, for the people there are very much occupied with their business fairs.


הֵבִיא רְאוּבֵן עֵדִים שֶׁהָיָה שִׁמְעוֹן בָּא בְּכָל שָׁנָה וְעוֹמֵד בְּמָקוֹם זֶה שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם אוֹ פָּחוֹת. אוֹמְרִים לְשִׁמְעוֹן מִפְּנֵי מָה לֹא מָחִיתָ כְּשֶׁבָּאתָ אִבַּדְתָּ זְכוּתְךָ. טָעַן שִׁמְעוֹן וְאָמַר טָרוּד הָיִיתִי בַּשּׁוּק וְלֹא יָדַעְתִּי שֶׁזֶּה בְּתוֹךְ חֲצֵרִי הֲרֵי זוֹ טַעֲנָה. שֶׁכָּל שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם יִהְיֶה אָדָם טָרוּד בַּשּׁוּק. וְאִם עָמַד יוֹתֵר מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וְלֹא מִחָה אִבֵּד אֶת זְכוּתוֹ. וְיֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁהַדִּין זֶה אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא בַּכְּפָרִים שֶׁהָעָם טְרוּדִין בַּשְּׁוָקִים שֶׁלָּהֶן:


Why do we not tell Reuven: "If it is true that he sold the property to you or gave it to you as a present, why did you not take care of your deed of acquisition?" Because a person does not take care of his legal documents for his entire life, and it is an established presumption that a person will not take care of a legal document for more than three years. If by that time, he sees that no one is protesting his ownership, he will not take care of it any longer.


וּמִפְּנֵי מָה אֵין אוֹמְרִין לִרְאוּבֵן אִם אֱמֶת הַדָּבָר שֶׁמָּכַר לְךָ אוֹ נָתַן לְךָ בְּמַתָּנָה לָמָּה לֹא נִזְהַרְתָּ בַּשְּׁטָר שֶׁלְּךָ. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין אָדָם נִזְהָר בִּשְׁטָרוֹ וְהוֹלֵךְ כָּל יָמָיו וַחֲזָקָה שֶׁאֵין אָדָם נִזְהָר בִּשְׁטָר אֶלָּא עַד שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁרוֹאֶה שֶׁאֵין אָדָם מְמַחֶה בּוֹ שׁוּב אֵינוֹ נִזְהָר:


If Shimon issued a protest in a distant country, why can Reuven not claim: "I did not hear that he lodged a protest against me so that I felt it necessary to safeguard my deed of acquisition"?

Because we tell him: "Your friend has a friend, and his friend has a friend. And it is an established presumption that word of the protest reached you. Hence, since you know that he lodged a protest against you within the three years, if it is true that you had a deed of acquisition and you did not safeguard it, you caused yourself a loss."


הֲרֵי שֶׁמִּחָה שִׁמְעוֹן בִּמְדִינָה רְחוֹקָה מִפְּנֵי מָה לֹא יִטְעֹן רְאוּבֵן וְיֹאמַר לֹא שָׁמַעְתִּי שֶׁמִּחָה בִּי כְּדֵי שֶׁאֶזָּהֵר בַּשְּׁטָר. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאוֹמֵר לוֹ חֲבֵרְךָ יֵשׁ לוֹ חָבֵר וַחֲבֵרוֹ יֵשׁ לוֹ חָבֵר וַחֲזָקָה שֶׁהִגִּיעַ אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר וְכֵיוָן שֶׁיָּדַעְתָּ שֶׁמִּחָה בְּךָ בְּתוֹךְ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים בֶּאֱמֶת הָיָה לְךָ שְׁטָר וְלֹא נִזְהַרְתָּ בּוֹ אַתָּה הִפְסַדְתָּ עַל עַצְמְךָ:


Therefore, if Shimon lodged a protest in the presence of witnesses, but told them: "Do not utter a word about this protest," the protest is of no consequence. If, however, the witnesses said on their own volition: "We will not utter a word about this," the protest is significant. For a person will ultimately speak of a matter that he was not charged to keep private.

Similarly, if the original owner told the witnesses: "Don't tell the person who took possession of the property about my protest," or the witnesses said on their own volition: "We will not notify him," the protest is of consequence. For even though they will not notify him, they will notify others, and ultimately the information will reach him.


לְפִיכָךְ אִם מִחָה שִׁמְעוֹן בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים וְאָמַר לָהֶם אַל תּוֹצִיאוּ דָּבָר זֶה מִפִּיכֶם אֵין זֶה מְחָאָה. אֲבָל אִם אָמְרוּ הָעֵדִים מֵעַצְמָן אֵין דָּבָר זֶה יוֹצֵא מִפִּינוּ הֲרֵי גַּם זוֹ מְחָאָה. שֶׁהַדָּבָר שֶׁאֵין אָדָם מְצֻוֶּה עָלָיו אוֹמְרוֹ שֶׁלֹּא בְּכַוָּנָה. וְכֵן אִם צִוָּה לְעֵדִים וְאָמַר לָהֶם אַל תּוֹדִיעוּהוּ אוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ הֵן מֵעַצְמָן אֵין אָנוּ מוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ גַּם זוֹ מְחָאָה הִיא. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָן מוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ מוֹדִיעִין הֵם לַאֲחֵרִים וְדָבָר זֶה יַגִּיעַ אֵלָיו:


What constitutes a protest? That the owner says in the presence of two witnesses: "So-and-so who is using my field is a robber. In the future, I will call him to court." Similarly, if he says: "The property is rented out to him or it was given to him as security for a loan. If he claims that I sold it to him or gave it to him as a present, I will lodge a claim against him in court." Similarly, if he makes other analogous statements, the protest is of consequence even though he did not issue it in the country where the person in possession of the land is located.

If, however, he told them merely: "So-and-so who is using my field is a robber," that is not a valid protest, for Reuven will say: "When I heard this, I said to myself: 'Maybe he was merely slandering me.' Therefore, I was not careful about keeping my deed of acquisition."


כֵּיצַד הַמְּחָאָה. אוֹמֵר בִּפְנֵי שְׁנַיִם פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁהוּא מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בַּחֲצֵרִי אוֹ בְּשָׂדִי גַּזְלָן הוּא וּלְעָתִיד אֲנִי תּוֹבֵעַ אוֹתוֹ בְּדִין. וְכֵן אִם אָמַר לָהֶם שְׂכוּרָה הִיא בְּיָדוֹ אוֹ מַשְׁכּוֹנָה וְאִם יִטְעֹן עָלַי שֶׁמָּכַרְתִּי אוֹ נָתַתִּי אֲנִי תּוֹבֵעַ אוֹתוֹ בְּדִין. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה הֲרֵי זוֹ מְחָאָה. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא מִחָה בִּמְדִינָה זוֹ שֶׁהֶחְזִיק בָּהּ זֶה. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר לָהֶן פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁמִּשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בַּחֲצֵרִי גַּזְלָן הוּא אֵין זוֹ מְחָאָה. שֶׁהֲרֵי רְאוּבֵן אוֹמֵר כְּשֶׁשָּׁמַעְתִּי אָמַרְתִּי שֶׁמָּא חֵרֵף אוֹתִי בִּלְבַד וּלְפִיכָךְ לֹא נִזְהַרְתִּי בִּשְׁטָרִי:


A protest made in the presence of two witnesses is of consequence. They may compose a legal record of it, even if the owner does not tell them to compose it.

Once the owner issued a protest in the first year, he does not have to issue another protest each year. There must not, however, be three full years between each protest. He must, therefore, issue a protest at the end of each three-year period. If he protested, delayed for three full years and protested afterwards, the protest is of no consequence.


מְחָאָה בִּפְנֵי שְׁנַיִם מְחָאָה וְכוֹתְבִין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא אָמַר לָהֶם כְּתֹבוּ. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁמִּחָה בְּשָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לַחְזֹר וְלִמְחוֹת בְּכָל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה. אֲבָל צָרִיךְ שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה בֵּין מְחָאָה לִמְחָאָה שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים גְּמוּרוֹת. לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ לִמְחוֹת בְּסוֹף כָּל שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים. וְאִם מִחָה וְעָמַד שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים גְּמוּרוֹת וְאַחַר כָּךְ מִחָה אֵינָהּ מְחָאָה:


If Reuven brought witnesses who testify that Shimon, the owner of the field, gathered the produce of the field together and gave it to Reuven, he is allowed to retain possession of the field. This applies even if Reuven claims that Shimon sold him or gave him the field that day. The rationale is that if he did not give him or sell him the field, he would not have helped Reuven in the field and given him its produce.


הֵבִיא רְאוּבֵן עֵדִים שֶׁזֶּה שִׁמְעוֹן בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה קִבֵּץ פֵּרוֹת שָׂדֶה זוֹ וּנְתָנָם לִי תַּעֲמֹד הַשָּׂדֶה בְּיַד רְאוּבֵן וַאֲפִלּוּ טָעַן שֶׁשִּׁמְעוֹן מְכָרָהּ לוֹ אוֹ נָתַן לוֹ הַיּוֹם שֶׁאִלּוּ לֹא מָכַר אוֹ נָתַן לֹא הָיָה מְשַׁמֵּשׁ אֶת רְאוּבֵן בְּשָׂדֶה זוֹ וְנוֹתֵן לוֹ פֵּרוֹתֶיהָ:


If Shimon responds, claiming: "It's true; that event transpired. I sold him the rights to the field's produce and it belonged to him, but I never sold him the field itself," his word is accepted and the field should be returned to Shimon. There is, however, an exception: when Reuven partook of the produce for three years with Shimon's knowledge and Shimon did not protest against him, as explained.


טָעַן שִׁמְעוֹן וְאָמַר אֱמֶת הָיָה הַדָּבָר וּלְפֵרוֹת הוֹרַדְתִּיו וְשֶׁלּוֹ הָיוּ הַפֵּרוֹת אֲבָל הַגּוּף לֹא מָכַרְתִּי נֶאֱמָן וְחוֹזֵר לְשִׁמְעוֹן אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן אֲכָלָהּ רְאוּבֵן בְּפָנָיו שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים וְלֹא מִחָה בּוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

To’en veNit’an - Chapter 12


The three years mentioned in the previous chapter must be from day to day. Even if one day was lacking, a claim of ownership is not established and the person in possession of the property is removed from it.

When does the above apply? With regard to landed property that produces benefit at all times - e.g., houses, courtyards, cisterns, pits, storage cavities, stores, inns, bathhouses, dovecotes, olive presses, fields that are continually irrigated and hence can be used for sowing and for planting, gardens, and orchards, and also servants who go on their own initiative, as we have explained.

Different rules apply with regard to a field that is watered only from rain and a grove of trees. The "three years" are not calculated from day to day.

Instead, after the person in possession partakes of three harvests from one type of produce, it is considered as if three years have passed.

What is implied? There was a date grove and the person in possession harvested it three times, a grape orchard and he harvested it three times, or an olive grove and he harvested it three times, he is considered to have established a claim of ownership. This applies even if the trees were planted one after the other, and there was not enough space left between them. Although ultimately, they will dry and have to be uprooted, since the person derived benefit from them for three harvests, he has established a claim of ownership.


שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ מִיּוֹם לְיוֹם אֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ חֲסֵרִים יוֹם אֶחָד לֹא הֶחֱזִיק וּמְסַלְּקִין אוֹתוֹ מִמֶּנָּה. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּקַרְקָעוֹת שֶׁהֵן עוֹשִׂין פֵּרוֹת תָּמִיד כְּגוֹן הַבָּתִּים וְהַחֲצֵרוֹת וְהַבּוֹרוֹת וְהַשִּׁיחִין וְהַמְּעָרוֹת וְהַחֲנֻיּוֹת וְהַפֻּנְדָּקוֹת וְהַמֶּרְחֲצָאוֹת וְהַשׁוֹבָכוֹת וּבָתֵּי הַבַּדִּין וּשְׂדֵה בֵּית הַשְּׁלָחִין שֶׁמַּשְׁקִין אוֹתָה תָּמִיד וְזוֹרְעִין בָּהּ וְנוֹטְעִין וְהַגַּנּוֹת וְהַפַּרְדֵּסִין. וְכֵן עֲבָדִים הַמְהַלְּכִין כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. אֲבָל שְׂדֵה הַבַּעַל שֶׁהִיא שׁוֹתָה מִמֵּי גְּשָׁמִים בִּלְבַד וּשְׂדֵה אִילָן אֵינָהּ מִיּוֹם לְיוֹם אֶלָּא כֵּיוָן שֶׁאָכְלוּ שָׁלֹשׁ תְּבוּאוֹת מִמִּין אֶחָד הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כְּשָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים. כֵּיצַד. הָיְתָה שְׂדֵה תְּמָרִים וְגָדַר שָׁלֹשׁ גְּדֵרוֹת אוֹ שְׂדֵה עֲנָבִים וּבָצַר שָׁלֹשׁ בְּצִירוֹת אוֹ שְׂדֵה זֵיתִים וּמָסַק שָׁלֹשׁ מְסִיקוֹת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כְּשָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים וְהֶחֱזִיק. וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ הָאִילָנוֹת רְצוּפִין וְלֹא הָיָה בֵּינֵיהֶן הַרְחָקָה כָּרָאוּי שֶׁהֲרֵי סוֹפָן לִיבַשׁ הוֹאִיל וְאוֹכְלָן שָׁלֹשׁ תְּבוּאוֹת הֶחֱזִיק:


If a person brings witnesses who testify that he dwelled in this courtyard for three years or rented it out to a tenant for three years, he establishes a claim of ownership.

If the owner of the courtyard claims: "Maybe you - or your tenant - did not dwell there during the day and during the night," his claim is valid. We tell the person in possession: "Bring witnesses that throughout these years, you dwelled there during the day and during the night, or depart."

Even when witnesses come and testify, saying: "The person in possession rented the field to us, and we dwelled there during the day and during the night," if the owner of the field demands: "Let them bring witnesses that they dwelled there during the day and during the night," these tenants must bring proof that they dwelled there at all times. The rationale is that the matter is dependent on them and is not dependent on the claim of the person in possession of the property that they should testify on his behalf.


הֵבִיא עֵדִים שֶׁהָיָה דָּר בְּחָצֵר זוֹ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים אוֹ שֶׁשְּׂכָרָהּ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים הֲרֵי זוֹ חֲזָקָה. טָעַן בַּעַל הֶחָצֵר וְאָמַר שֶׁמָּא לֹא שָׁכַן בָּהּ בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה אוֹ שֶׁמָּא אֵלּוּ שֶׁהִשְׂכִּירוּ לָהֶם לֹא שָׁכְנוּ בָּהּ בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה הֲרֵי זוֹ טַעֲנָה. אוֹמְרִים לַמַּחֲזִיק אוֹ תָּבִיא עֵדִים שֶׁשָּׁנִים אֵלּוּ גְּמוּרוֹת בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה אוֹ הִסְתַּלֵּק. אֲפִלּוּ בָּאוּ עֵדִים וְאָמְרוּ לָנוּ הִשְׂכִּיר וְאָנוּ דַּרְנוּ בָּהּ בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה וְטָעַן בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה וְאָמַר יָבִיאוּ עֵדִים שֶׁדָּרוּ בָּהּ בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה. צְרִיכִין אֵלּוּ הַשּׂוֹכְרִין לְהָבִיא רְאָיָה שֶׁדָּרוּ בָּהּ תָּמִיד. שֶׁזֶּה הַדָּבָר תָּלוּי בָּהֶן וְאֵין תָּלוּי בְּטַעֲנַת הַמַּחֲזִיק כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּעִידוּ לוֹ:


Different laws apply if the person in possession of the property or the witnesses were traveling salesmen who journey from village to village or the like. In such a situation, the court makes a claim on behalf of the owner at the outset. When he brings witnesses to try to substantiate his claim of ownership, the court tells him: "Bring witnesses who will testify that you manifested possession during the day and the night."

When does the above apply? With regard to courtyards, houses, and the like, in which people live during the day and the night. Different laws apply with regard to stores operated by merchants and the like, in which people dwell only during the day. In such a situation, if a person dwelled in the store for three years during the day, he establishes a claim of ownership.


הָיָה זֶה הַמַּחֲזִיק אוֹ הָעֵדִים שֶׁדָּרוּ בָּהּ מִן הָרוֹכְלִין הַמְחַזְּרִין בַּעֲיָרוֹת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. טוֹעֲנִין אוֹתוֹ לְכַתְּחִלָּה וּכְשֶׁיָּבִיא עֵדֵי חֲזָקָה אוֹמֵר לוֹ הָבֵא עֵדִים שֶׁהָיִיתָ מַחֲזִיק בָּהּ בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בַּחֲצֵרוֹת וּבָתִּים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שֶׁהֵן עֲשׂוּיוֹת לָדוּר בְּתוֹכָן בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה. אֲבָל הַחֲנֻיּוֹת שֶׁל תַּגָּרִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שֶׁאֵין דָּרִין בָּהֶן אֶלָּא בַּיּוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁדָּר בָּהּ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים בַּיּוֹם הֲרֵי זֶה חֲזָקָה:


The three years mentioned must be consecutive, one following the other. If a person in possession of a field sowed it one year and left it fallow the next year, and then sowed it one year and left it fallow the next year, he does not establish a claim of ownership. This applies even if he followed this pattern for many years.

If the custom of the farmers of that area was to leave fields fallow, the person is considered to have established a claim of ownership. This applies even if some of the local farmers sow their fields year after year, and some sow their fields for one year and leave them fallow the next. For the person in possession may claim: "I left it fallow only so that it will produce more in the year that I sow it."


שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיוּ רְצוּפוֹת זוֹ אַחַר זוֹ. הֲרֵי שֶׁהֶחְזִיק בְּשָׂדֶה וּזְרָעָהּ שָׁנָה וְהוֹבִירָהּ שָׁנָה וּזְרָעָהּ שָׁנָה וְהוֹבִירָהּ שָׁנָה. אֲפִלּוּ עָשָׂה כֵן כַּמָּה שָׁנִים לֹא הֶחֱזִיק. הָיָה דַּרְכָּן שֶׁל בְּנֵי אוֹתוֹ הַמָּקוֹם לְהוֹבִיר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמִּקְצָתָן זוֹרְעִין שָׁנָה אַחַר שָׁנָה וּמִקְצָתָן זוֹרְעִין שָׁנָה וּמוֹבִירִין שָׁנָה הֲרֵי זֶה הֶחֱזִיק שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא הוֹבַרְתִּי אוֹתָהּ אֶלָּא כְּדֵי שֶׁתַּעֲשֶׂה הַרְבֵּה בִּשְׁנַת הַזְּרִיעָה:


When two partners maintained possession of a field for six years, one partaking of the produce in the first, third and fifth years, and the other partaking of the produce in the second, fourth and sixth years, neither is considered to have established a claim of ownership. The rationale is that the owner of the field can say: "Since I neither saw nor heard of one person maintaining possession year after year, I did not protest."

Accordingly, if these partners composed a legal document attesting to their partnership and stating that they should each utilize the field in successive years, if three years pass in which they use it, they establish a claim of ownership. The rationale is that a legal document becomes public knowledge. Hence, if the owner did not protest, he forfeited his right.

Similar laws apply if two people maintain possession of a servant and use his services year after year. Ordinarily, they do not establish a claim of ownership. If they compose a legal document concerning the servant, they do.


שְׁנֵי שֻׁתָּפִין שֶׁהֶחְזִיקוּ בְּשָׂדֶה שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים הָאֶחָד אֲכָלָהּ רִאשׁוֹנָה וּשְׁלִישִׁית וַחֲמִישִׁית. וְהַשֵּׁנִי אֲכָלָהּ שְׁנִיָּה וּרְבִיעִית וְשִׁשִּׁית לֹא עָלְתָה חֲזָקָה לְאֶחָד מֵהֶם. שֶׁהֲרֵי בַּעַל הַקַּרְקַע אוֹמֵר כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא רָאִיתִי וְלֹא שָׁמַעְתִּי שֶׁהֶחְזִיק בָּהּ אָדָם אֶחָד שָׁנָה אַחַר שָׁנָה מִפְּנֵי זֶה לֹא מָחִיתִי. לְפִיכָךְ אִם כָּתְבוּ אֵלּוּ הַשֻּׁתָּפִין שְׁטָר בֵּינֵיהֶן שֶׁיִּשְׁתַּמְּשׁוּ בָּהּ שָׁנָה אַחַר שָׁנָה כֵּיוָן שֶׁעָבַר שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים עָלְתָה לָהֶן חֲזָקָה. שֶׁהַשְּׁטָר יֵשׁ לוֹ קוֹל וְהוֹאִיל וְלֹא מִחָה אִבֵּד זְכוּתוֹ. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְעֶבֶד שֶׁהֶחְזִיקוּ בּוֹ שְׁנַיִם וְנִשְׁתַּמְּשׁוּ בּוֹ שָׁנָה אַחַר שָׁנָה אִם כָּתְבוּ שְׁטָר בֵּינֵיהֶן הֲרֵי הֶחֱזִיקוּ:


The following rules apply when a person who took possession of a property derived benefit from its produce for one year and then sold it, the purchaser derived benefit from its produce for one year and then sold it, and the second purchaser derived benefit from its produce for a year. If they sold it to each other with a deed of sale, the activities of the three are combined and a claim of ownership is established, because the previous owner did not protest.

If they did not record the transaction in a deed of sale, a claim of ownership is not established, because the original owners can say: "Since one person did not maintain a presence within it for three years, there was no necessity to issue a protest."


אֲכָלָהּ שָׁנָה זֶה הַמַּחֲזִיק וּמְכָרָהּ וַאֲכָלָהּ הַלּוֹקֵחַ שָׁנָה וּמָכַר לְלוֹקֵחַ שֵׁנִי וַאֲכָלָהּ שָׁנָה. אִם מָכְרוּ זֶה לָזֶה בִּשְׁטָר שְׁלָשְׁתָּן מִצְטָרְפִין וַהֲרֵי זוֹ חֲזָקָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא מִחָה. וְאִם מָכְרוּ שֶׁלֹּא בִּשְׁטָר אֵינָהּ חֲזָקָה שֶׁהַבְּעָלִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים אוֹמְרִים כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא עָמַד בָּהּ אִישׁ אֶחָד שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים לֹא הֻצְרַכְתִּי לִמְחוֹת:


When a father derived benefit from a property for one year, and his son derived benefit for two years, or the father derived benefit for two years, and his son derived benefit for one year, a claim of ownership is established.

The same law applies if the father derived benefit for a year, the son derived benefit for a year, and the person who purchased it derived benefit for a year, provided that he purchased it with a deed of sale.


אֲכָלָהּ הָאָב שָׁנָה וְהַבֵּן שְׁתַּיִם הָאָב שְׁתַּיִם וְהַבֵּן שָׁנָה הָאָב שָׁנָה וְהַבֵּן שָׁנָה וְהַלּוֹקֵחַ מִן הַבֵּן שָׁנָה הֲרֵי זוֹ חֲזָקָה וְהוּא שֶׁלָּקַח בִּשְׁטָר:


When a person seeking to establish a claim of ownership partakes of produce from a field for one year in the presence of the father who was the owner, and two years in the presence of his son, or two years in the presence of the father and one year in the presence of the son, a claim of ownership is established.

Similarly, a claim of ownership is established when the person in possession of the field partakes of its produce for one year in the presence of the father, one year in the presence of the son, and one year in the presence of a person who purchased the field from the son. This law applies when the son sold the field together with all his fields. In such an instance, the person in possession of the field will not appreciate that it was sold, and hence will not necessarily be careful to maintain possession of his deed of acquisition beyond the three-year period. If, however, the son sold the field as a discrete entity the property is expropriated and given to the purchaser. For there can be no greater protest against the squatter's possession than this.


אֲכָלָהּ בִּפְנֵי הָאָב שֶׁהָיָה בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה שָׁנָה וּבִפְנֵי בְּנוֹ שְׁתַּיִם. אוֹ בִּפְנֵי הָאָב שְׁתַּיִם וּבִפְנֵי הַבֵּן שָׁנָה. אוֹ בִּפְנֵי הָאָב שָׁנָה וּבִפְנֵי בְּנוֹ שָׁנָה וּבִפְנֵי לוֹקֵחַ מִן הַבֵּן שָׁנָה. הֲרֵי זוֹ חֲזָקָה. וְהוּא שֶׁמָּכַר הַבֵּן זוֹ הַשָּׂדֶה בִּכְלַל שְׂדוֹתָיו שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא הִכִּיר הַמַּחֲזִיק שֶׁנִּמְכְּרָה וּלְפִיכָךְ לֹא נִזְהַר בִּשְׁטָרוֹ. אֲבָל אִם מָכַר הַבֵּן שָׂדֶה זוֹ בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָהּ אֵין לְךָ מְחָאָה גְּדוֹלָה מִזּוֹ:


If the person in possession left the field fallow year after year - even for many years - since he did not derive any benefit from it, he does not establish a claim of ownership.

Similarly, if he irrigated it or even irrigated it and did no more than break up large clumps of earth, since he did not benefit from its produce, he does not establish a claim of ownership.


נָרָהּ שָׁנָה אַחַר שָׁנָה אֲפִלּוּ כַּמָּה שָׁנִים הוֹאִיל וְלֹא נֶהֱנָה בָּהּ אֵינָהּ חֲזָקָה. וְכֵן אִם פָּתַח בָּהּ שְׁבִילֵי הַמַּיִם וּפָתַח וְשִׂדֵּד בִּלְבַד הוֹאִיל וְלֹא אָכַל פֵּרוֹת אֵינָהּ חֲזָקָה:


If the person in possession sowed it, but did not make any profit - i.e., he sowed a kor and reaped a kor - he does not establish a claim of ownership, since he did not derive any benefit from it.


זְרָעָהּ וְלֹא הִרְוִיחַ כְּלוּם אֶלָּא זָרַע כּוֹר וְאָסַף כּוֹר לֹא הֶחֱזִיק שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא נֶהֱנָה:


If he harvests the field as straw, he does not establish a claim of ownership. If in that region it was common to sow to harvest straw because straw is very expensive, he does establish a claim of ownership.


אֲכָלָהּ שַׁחַת לֹא הֶחֱזִיק. וְאִם הָיָה הַמָּקוֹם דַּרְכָּן לִזְרֹעַ לְשַׁחַת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁדָּמָיו יְקָרִין הֲרֵי זוֹ חֲזָקָה:


If the person in possession partook of produce of a field that was orlah, grew during the Sabbatical year, or contained mixed species, he establishes a claim of ownership despite the fact that he derived benefit through transgression.


אֲכָלָהּ עָרְלָה שְׁבִיעִית וְכִלְאַיִם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנֶּהֱנָה בַּעֲבֵרָה הֲרֵי זוֹ חֲזָקָה:


If the property in question was a stone or a rocky area unfit to be sown, the person in possession must benefit from the land in an appropriate manner - e.g., use it to spread out fruits to dry, as a place for an animal to pasture, or the like. If he does not derive benefit throughout all these three years in an appropriate manner, he does not establish a claim of ownership.


הָיָה הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁהֶחְזִיק בּוֹ סֶלַע אוֹ חַלָּמִישׁ שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָאוּי לִזְרִיעָה צָרִיךְ לֵהָנוֹת בּוֹ בְּדָבָר הָרָאוּי לָהּ כְּגוֹן שֶׁיִּשְׁטַח בּוֹ הַפֵּרוֹת אוֹ יַעֲמִיד בּוֹ בְּהֵמָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. וְאִם לֹא נֶהֱנָה בּוֹ בְּכָל אוֹתָן הַשָּׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים בַּדָּבָר הָרָאוּי לוֹ לֹא הֶחֱזִיק:


The following rules apply when a person would tie his animal in a specific place in a courtyard belonging to a colleague, he would raise chickens there, he would place an oven, a range or a mill there, or he would place his fertilizer there. Whether or not he erects a barrier there, if he uses the property for these purposes during the day and the night and claims that the owner of the courtyard sold or gave him that place, he establishes a claim of ownership.


הָיָה מַעֲמִיד בְּהֵמָה בְּמָקוֹם מְסֻיָּם מֵחֲצַר חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה מְגַדֵּל שָׁם תַּרְנְגוֹלִין אוֹ מַעֲמִיד שָׁם תַּנּוּר וְכִירַיִם וְרֵחַיִם. אוֹ שֶׁנָּתַן שָׁם זִבְלוֹ. בֵּין שֶׁהֶעֱמִיד שָׁם מְחִצָּה בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא הֶעֱמִיד. אִם נִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה וְטָעַן עַל בַּעַל הֶחָצֵר וְאָמַר אַתָּה נָתַתָּ לִי מָקוֹם זֶה אוֹ מְכַרְתּוֹ לִי הֲרֵי זוֹ חֲזָקָה:


The following rules apply when a field is surrounded by a fence and a person took possession of it and sowed crops outside the fence, deriving benefit from the portion that is not protected. Even though he derives benefit year after year, he does not establish a claim of ownership. The rationale is that the owner can claim: "Since we saw that he was sowing crops in a place that was unprotected, we said: 'Whatever he sowed, the beasts of the field will eat. Therefore, we did not protest.'" This law also applies to anyone who sows crops in a place that is not protected and the crops are accessible to animals and other people.


שָׂדֶה שֶׁהִיא מֻקֶּפֶת גָּדֵר וּבָא זֶה שֶׁהֶחְזִיק בָּהּ וְזָרַע חוּץ לַגָּדֵר וְנֶהֱנָה בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁאֵינוֹ שָׁמוּר. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֲכָלוֹ שָׁנָה אַחַר שָׁנָה לֹא עָלְתָה לוֹ חֲזָקָה. שֶׁהַבְּעָלִים טוֹעֲנִין וְאוֹמְרִין כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאִינוּ שֶׁזּוֹרֵעַ בְּמָקוֹם מֻפְקָר אָמַרְנוּ כָּל מַה שֶּׁזָּרַע חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה תֹּאכְלֶנּוּ וּלְפִיכָךְ לֹא מָחִיתִי. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְכָל הַזּוֹרֵעַ מָקוֹם שֶׁאֵינוֹ שָׁמוּר אֶלָּא רֶגֶל חַיָּה וְיַד כָּל אָדָם מְצוּיִין בּוֹ:


When the person in possession derives benefit from the entire property with the exception of one portion fit to sow a quarter of a kav of grain, he establishes a claim of ownership over the entire field, with the exception of the portion from which he did not benefit. Even if that was a rocky portion in the midst of the field, since he did not use it in a way appropriate for it, he does not establish a claim of ownership over it.


אֲכָלָהּ כֻּלָּהּ חוּץ מִבֵּית רֹבַע הֶחֱזִיק בְּכֻלָּהּ חוּץ מֵאוֹתוֹ בֵּית רֹבַע שֶׁלֹּא נֶהֱנָה בּוֹ. אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה חַלָּמִישׁ בְּתוֹךְ הַשָּׂדֶה הוֹאִיל וְלֹא נִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ כָּרָאוּי לוֹ אֵין לָזֶה בּוֹ חֲזָקָה:


The following rules apply when one person took possession of trees and derived benefit from their produce, and another took possession of the land, sowed crops there, and derived benefit from them, and each of them claims that the entire property belongs to him, because he purchased it from the owner. The person in possession of the trees is given the trees and the land necessary to tend to them - i.e., the space in which a person picking fruit can stand together with his basket for each tree. The person in possession of the land receives the remainder of the land.


הֶחֱזִיק אֶחָד בָּאִילָנוֹת וְאָכַל פֵּרוֹתֵיהֶן וְאֶחָד הֶחֱזִיק בַּקַּרְקַע וּזְרָעָהּ וְאָכַל פֵּרוֹתֶיהָ וְכָל אֶחָד מִשְּׁנֵיהֶם טוֹעֵן שֶׁהַכּל שֶׁלִּי וַאֲנִי לְקַחְתִּיו. זֶה שֶׁהֶחְזִיק בָּאִילָנוֹת וַאֲכָלָן שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים יֵשׁ לוֹ הָאִילָנוֹת וְקַרְקַע שֶׁצְּרִיכִין לוֹ וְהוּא כִּמְלֹא הָאוֹרֶה וְסַלּוֹ חוּצָה לְכָל אִילָן וְאִילָן. וְזֶה שֶׁהֶחְזִיק בַּקַּרְקַע יֵשׁ לוֹ שְׁאָר הַקַּרְקַע:


Similarly, when a person benefits from all the produce of a tree for three years and then issues a claim against the owner of the tree: "You sold me this tree and its land," he is granted an amount of land equivalent to the thickness of the tree until the depths of the earth.


וְכֵן הָאוֹכֵל כָּל פֵּרוֹת אִילָן שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים וְטָעַן עַל בַּעַל הָאִילָן אַתָּה מָכַרְתָּ לִי אִילָן זֶה וְקַרְקָעוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה יֵשׁ לוֹ קַרְקַע כָּעֳבִי הָאִילָן עַד הַתְּהוֹם:


The following laws apply when there are 30 trees within a tree grove large enough to sow three se'ah of grain. If a person in possession benefited from ten trees in the first year, ten in the second year, and ten in the third, he establishes his possession over the entire grove.

The above applies when the ten trees from which he benefited were spread through the entire area of the field, and the other trees did not produce any fruit. If, however, the other trees produced fruit and he did not partake of it, he establishes a claim of ownership only on the produce from which he partook.


שְׂדֵה אִילָן שֶׁהָיוּ בּוֹ שְׁלֹשִׁים אִילָנוֹת בְּתוֹךְ בֵּית שָׁלֹשׁ סְאִין וְאָכַל עֲשָׂרָה בְּשָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה וַעֲשָׂרָה בְּשָׁנָה שְׁנִיָּה וַעֲשָׂרָה בְּשָׁנָה שְׁלִישִׁית הֻחְזַק בַּכּל. וְהוּא שֶׁהָיוּ עֲשָׂרָה שֶׁאָכַל מְפֻזָּרוֹת בְּכָל בֵּית הַשָּׁלֹשׁ סְאִין וְלֹא הוֹצִיאוּ שְׁאָר הָאִילָנוֹת פֵּרוֹת. אֲבָל אִם הוֹצִיאוּ שְׁאָר הָאִילָנוֹת פֵּרוֹת וְלֹא אֲכָלָן לֹא הֻחְזַק אֶלָּא בְּמַה שֶּׁאָכַל:


When does the above apply? When he benefited from some of the fruit and the people reaped the remainder of the fruit. If, however, he left the fruit on the trees and benefited from the fruit from several portions throughout the entire grove, he establishes a claim of ownership concerning the entire field, even though he did not collect all its produce.


בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁאָכַל הוּא מִקְצָת הַפֵּרוֹת וּבָזְזוּ הָעָם שְׁאָר הַפֵּרוֹת. אֲבָל אִם מֵנִיחַ פֵּרוֹתֵיהֶן עֲלֵיהֶן הוֹאִיל וְאָכַל אִילָן מִכָּאן וְאִילָן מִכָּאן מִכָּל הַשָּׂדֶה הֶחֱזִיק בְּכָל הַשָּׂדֶה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא אָסַף כָּל פֵּרוֹתֶיהָ:

The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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Vowelized Hebrew text courtesy Torat Emet under CC 2.5 license.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.