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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

To’en veNit’an - Chapter 8

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To’en veNit’an - Chapter 8


It is an accepted presumption that all movable property belongs to the person who is in physical possession of it.' This applies even if the plaintiff brought witnesses who testify that the movable property in question was known to belong to the plaintiff.

What is implied? A plaintiff lodges a claim against a defendant: "This garment..." or "This utensil that is in your possession..." or "... that is in your house belongs to me..,", "... I entrusted it to you for safekeeping...", or "... I lent it to you. Here are witnesses who knew that it was previously in my domain."

The defendant responds: "That is not so. You sold it to me," or "...You gave it to me as a present," the defendant is required to take only a sh'vuat hesset and is freed of responsibility.


כָּל הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין בְּחֶזְקַת זֶה שֶׁהֵן תַּחַת יָדוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵבִיא הַתּוֹבֵעַ עֵדִים שֶׁהַמִּטַּלְטְלִין הַלָּלוּ יְדוּעִין לוֹ. כֵּיצַד. בֶּגֶד זֶה אוֹ כְּלִי זֶה שֶׁבְּיָדְךָ אוֹ שֶׁבְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתְךָ שֶׁלִּי הוּא. אוֹ הִפְקַדְתִּיהוּ אֶצְלְךָ. אוֹ הִשְׁאַלְתִּיהוּ לְךָ. וַהֲרֵי הָעֵדִים שֶׁהֵן יוֹדְעִין אוֹתוֹ מִקֹּדֶם בִּרְשׁוּתִי. וְהַנִּתְבָּע אוֹמֵר לֹא כִּי אֶלָּא אַתָּה מְכַרְתּוֹ לִי אוֹ נְתַתּוֹ לִי בְּמַתָּנָה. הֲרֵי זֶה הַנִּתְבָּע נִשְׁבָּע הֶסֵּת וְנִפְטָר:


If the defendant claims that the movable property he is holding is security, he may claim up to its value. He must, however, take an oath while holding a sacred object. Afterwards, he may collect his due, as explained.


טָעַן שֶׁהוּא מַשְׁכּוֹן בְּיָדוֹ יָכוֹל לִטְעֹן עַד כְּדֵי דָּמָיו וְנִשְׁבָּע בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ וְנוֹטֵל כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:


When does the above apply? To articles that are not made to lend out or rent out - e.g., garments, produce, household articles, merchandise and the like. Different rules apply with regard to articles that are made to lend out or rent out. Although they are found in the possession of a particular person and there are no witnesses that the original owner lent or rented out this article to this person, it is an accepted presumption that they belong to their original owner.

What is implied? Reuven owned a utensil that was made to lend or rent out, and he has witnesses who know that such an article belonged to him. This utensil is presently in the possession of Shimon. Reuven claims that he lent it or rented it to him," while Shimon claims that Reuven sold it to him, gave it to him as a present or entrusted it to him as security. We do not accept Shimon's claim. Instead, Reuven may take his utensil after taking a sh'vuat hesset in response to Shimon's claim.

Even if Shimon died, Reuven may take his utensil. The Geonim ruled that Reuven must take a sh'vuat hesset, for we advance claims on behalf of an heir.


בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁאֵינָן עֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר. כְּגוֹן בְּגָדִים וּפֵרוֹת וּכְלֵי תַּשְׁמִישׁ הַבַּיִת וּדְבָרִים שֶׁל סְחוֹרָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. אֲבָל דְּבָרִים הָעֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן תַּחַת יָדוֹ שֶׁל זֶה וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִשְׁאִילוֹ כְּלִי זֶה וְלֹא הִשְׂכִּירוֹ לוֹ בְּעֵדִים הֲרֵי הֵן בְּחֶזְקַת בַּעֲלֵיהֶן. כֵּיצַד. רְאוּבֵן שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ כְּלִי הֶעָשׂוּי לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר וְיֵשׁ לוֹ עֵדִים שֶׁהוּא יָדוּעַ לוֹ וַהֲרֵי אוֹתוֹ הַכְּלִי תַּחַת יַד שִׁמְעוֹן וּרְאוּבֵן טוֹעֵן שֶׁהוּא שָׁאוּל אוֹ שָׂכוּר. וְשִׁמְעוֹן טוֹעֵן אַתָּה מְכַרְתּוֹ לִי אַתָּה נְתַתּוֹ לִי בְּמַתָּנָה אַתָּה מִשְׁכַּנְתּוֹ בְּיָדִי אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן. אֶלָּא רְאוּבֵן נוֹטֵל כֶּלְיוֹ וְנִשְׁבָּע הֶסֵּת עַל טַעֲנַת שִׁמְעוֹן. וַאֲפִלּוּ מֵת שִׁמְעוֹן הֲרֵי רְאוּבֵן נוֹטֵל כֶּלְיוֹ. וְהוֹרוּ הַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁיִּשָּׁבַע הֶסֵּת. שֶׁטּוֹעֲנִין לַיּוֹרֵשׁ:


When does the above apply? When the utensil can be seen in the possession of Shimon.

Different rules apply when, however, Reuven lodges a claim against Shimon saying: "You have this-and-this utensil of mine. You rented it. Give it back to me. I have witnesses who know that it belongs to me." If Shimon responds: "You sold it to me" or "You gave it to me," his word is accepted. He must take a sh'vuat hesset and then he is released of all obligations. The rationale is since he could say: "Nothing like this ever happened. I do not have anything that belonged to you," we accept his word if he claims: "I have the article, but you sold it to me."


בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיָה כְּלִי זֶה נִרְאֶה וְעוֹמֵד בְּיַד שִׁמְעוֹן. אֲבָל אִם רְאוּבֵן טָעַן וְאָמַר לְשִׁמְעוֹן כְּלִי פְּלוֹנִי יֵשׁ לִי בְּיָדְךָ וְשָׂכוּר הוּא הוֹצִיאוֹ אֵלַי וַהֲרֵי יֵשׁ לִי עֵדִים שֶׁהוּא יָדוּעַ לִי. וְאָמַר לוֹ שִׁמְעוֹן אַתָּה מְכַרְתּוֹ לִי אַתָּה נְתַתּוֹ לִי בְּמַתָּנָה נֶאֱמָן וְנִשְׁבָּע שִׁמְעוֹן הֶסֵּת וְנִפְטָר. מִתּוֹךְ שֶׁיָּכוֹל לוֹמַר לֹא הָיוּ דְּבָרִים מֵעוֹלָם וְאֵין בְּיָדִי כְּלוּם נֶאֱמָן לוֹמַר שֶׁיֶּשְׁנוֹ אֶצְלִי וְאַתָּה מְכַרְתּוֹ לִי:


The above-mentioned concepts apply only when the owner of the utensil claims: "I entrusted it to you" or "I lent it to you." Different laws apply if, however, he claims: "This article is mine. It was stolen, lost or taken by robbery." Although he brings witnesses who testify that the article was known to be his, if the person in possession of the article says: "I do not know what you are talking about. Someone else sold it to me or gave it to me as a present," we allow it to remain in that person's possession although it is an article that is made to be lent out or rented out. He is not required to take an oath at all, because there is no claim against him.


אֵין כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ אֲמוּרִים אֶלָּא שֶׁהָיָה בַּעַל הַכְּלִי טוֹעֵן אֲנִי הִפְקַדְתִּיו אֶצְלְךָ אוֹ הִשְׁאַלְתִּיהוּ אֶצְלְךָ. אֲבָל אִם טָעַן שֶׁכְּלִי זֶה הָיָה שֶׁלִּי וְנִגְנַב אוֹ אָבַד אוֹ נִגְזַל וְהֵבִיא עֵדִים שֶׁהוּא יָדוּעַ לוֹ וְזֶה שֶׁתַּחַת יָדוֹ אוֹמֵר אֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ אֲבָל אֲחֵרִים מְכָרוּהוּ לִי אוֹ נְתָנוּהוּ לִי בְּמַתָּנָה. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מִדְּבָרִים שֶׁעֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר מַעֲמִידִין אוֹתוֹ בְּיַד זֶה שֶׁהוּא בְּיָדוֹ וְאֵינוֹ נִשְׁבָּע כְּלָל שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין לוֹ טוֹעֵן:


If a well-founded report has circulated that utensils belonging to the original owner have been stolen, the person in possession of the article may take an oath while holding a sacred article, stating how much he spent on the article. The original owner must reimburse him for this expense and may then take his article, as stated in Hilchot Geneivah.

If the defendant claims: "You sold it to me" or "You gave it to me as a present," he must take a sh'vuat hesset, and he is then allowed to maintain possession of the article, even though a well-founded report has circulated that utensils belonging to the original owner have been stolen, provided the article was not made to be lent or rented out.

From these laws, the following concept can be derived: A person has movable property in his possession and another person claims that it belongs to him. The defendant could claim that he purchased it. Thus, he would be required to take a sh'vuat hesset and would then be released of all obligations. Nevertheless, if the defendant says: "It belongs to you, but you owe me this-and-this," he must take an oath while holding a sacred object. Afterwards, he collects his claim from the property in his possession, as is the law applying to all those who take oaths and collect their due.


יָצָא לַבְּעָלִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים חֲזָקָה מִכְּלֵיהֶן שֶׁנִּגְנְבוּ. יִשָּׁבַע זֶה בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ כַּמָּה הוֹצִיא וְיִטּל וְיַחְזֹר הַכְּלִי לַבְּעָלִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת גְּנֵבָה. טָעַן אַתָּה מְכַרְתּוֹ לִי אוֹ נְתַתּוֹ לִי בְּמַתָּנָה. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיָּצָא לוֹ שֵׁם גְּנֵבָה אִם לֹא הָיָה מִדְּבָרִים הָעֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר הֲרֵי זֶה נִשְׁבָּע הֶסֵּת וְיַעֲמֹד הַכְּלִי בְּיָדוֹ. מִכָּאן אַתָּה לָמֵד לְכָל מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ מִטַּלְטְלִין בְּיָדוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיָּכוֹל לוֹמַר שֶׁלְּקוּחִין הֵן בְּיָדִי וְיִשָּׁבַע הֶסֵּת וְיִפָּטֵר. אִם אָמַר שֶׁלְּךָ הֵן אֲבָל חַיָּב אַתָּה לִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ יִשָּׁבַע בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִטּל כְּדִין כָּל הַנִּשְׁבָּעִין וְנוֹטְלִין:


When a person has in his possession articles that were made to lend or rent out, he is allowed to maintain possession even though he acknowledged the plaintiff's ownership, telling him: "I know that this property was yours, but so-and-so sold it to me," or "... gave it to me as a present," we do not expropriate it from the defendant's possession.

The above applies even if the plaintiff brings witnesses who testify that the property was known to belong to him. The rationale is that a person is wont to sell his personal property.


מִי שֶׁהָיוּ בְּיָדוֹ דְּבָרִים הָעֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוֹדָה וְאָמַר לוֹ יוֹדֵעַ אֲנִי שֶׁהֵם שֶׁלְּךָ אֲבָל פְּלוֹנִי מְכָרָם לִי אוֹ נְתָנָם לִי בְּמַתָּנָה אֵין מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָן מִיָּדוֹ. אֲפִלּוּ הֵבִיא זֶה עֵדִים שֶׁהָיוּ יְדוּעִין לוֹ. שֶׁאָדָם עָשׂוּי לִמְכֹּר אֶת כֵּלָיו:


If, however, the plaintiff claims: "I rented it to you," or "I lent it to you," we expropriate it from his possession. If the object in question was not one that was made to lend or rent out, the defendant may retain possession of the article. He must, however, take a sh'vuat hesset that the plaintiff) did not lend or rent the article to him, but that he purchased it from so-and-so.


טָעַן זֶה עָלָיו וְאָמַר שֶׁאֲנִי הִשְׂכַּרְתִּים לְךָ אוֹ הִשְׁאַלְתִּים לְךָ מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָן מִיָּדוֹ. וְאִם הָיוּ מִדְּבָרִים שֶׁאֵינָן עֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר הֲרֵי זֶה נִשְׁבָּע הֶסֵּת שֶׁלֹּא הִשְׁאִיל לוֹ וְלֹא הִשְׂכִּיר לוֹ אֶלָּא מִפְּלוֹנִי לָקַח וְיַעֲמִיד כֵּלָיו בְּיָדוֹ:


Do not err and interpret the phrase "entities made to lend out or rent out" as meaning "entities that are wont to be lent out or rented out" as did many, [including great sages. For all articles are fit to be lent out and are wont to be lent out. Even a person's cloak, mattress, and bed are fit to be lent out.

The phrase "articles made to lend out or rent out," by contrast, refers to utensils that people in that country make initially with the intent that they be lent out or rented out, so that they can receive a fee for them. They are considered to belong to their owners like landed property, concerning which benefit is derived from its produce, but the land itself remains. Similarly, these utensils are made primarily to benefit from renting them out - e.g., large brass pots used for cooking at party halls, bronze jewelry inlaid with gold that are rented for brides to wear. Such articles are not made to be sold, nor for the owner to use them in his own home. Instead, they are lent out to others with the expectation of receiving benefit in recompense or of renting them out for a fee.

Similarly, if a person has ordinary utensils, but there are witnesses who will testify that he rents them out at all times and lends them, and it is an accepted presumption that he lends them and rents them, they are considered utensils that were made for the sake of being lent or rented.


אַל תִּטְעֶה בֵּין דְּבָרִים הָעֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר לִדְבָרִים שֶׁדַּרְכָּן לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר כְּמוֹ שֶׁטָּעוּ רַבִּים וּגְדוֹלִים. שֶׁכָּל הַדְּבָרִים רְאוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וְדַרְכָּן לְהַשְׁאִיל אֲפִלּוּ חֲלוּקוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם וּמַצָּעוֹ וּמִטָּתוֹ רְאוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל. אֲבָל דְּבָרִים הָעֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר הֵם הַכֵּלִים שֶׁבְּנֵי אוֹתָהּ מְדִינָה עוֹשִׂין אוֹתָן מִתְּחִלַּת עֲשִׂיָּתָן כְּדֵי לְהַשְׁאִילָן וּלְהַשְׂכִּירָן וְלִטּל שְׂכָרָן וַהֲרֵי הֵן לְבַעְלֵיהֶן. כְּמוֹ קַרְקַע שֶׁאוֹכֵל פֵּרוֹתֶיהָ וְהַגּוּף קַיָּם כָּךְ אֵלּוּ הַכֵּלִים עִקַּר עֲשִׂיָּתָן כְּדֵי לֵהָנוֹת בִּשְׂכָרָן. כְּגוֹן הַיּוֹרוֹת הַגְּדוֹלוֹת שֶׁל נְחשֶׁת שֶׁמְּבַשְּׁלִין בָּהֶן בְּבֵית הַמִּשְׁתָּאוֹת. וּכְגוֹן כְּלִי נְחשֶׁת הַטּוּחַ בְּזָהָב שֶׁשּׂוֹכְרִין אוֹתוֹ לַכַּלָּה לְהִתְקַשֵּׁט בּוֹ. שֶׁעֲשִׂיַּת אֵלּוּ הַכֵּלִים אֵינָן לִמְכִירַת עַצְמָן וְלֹא לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהֶן בַּעַל הַבַּיִת בְּבֵיתוֹ אֶלָּא לְהַשְׁאִילָן לַאֲחֵרִים כְּדֵי לֵהָנוֹת כְּנֶגְדָּן אוֹ לְהַשְׂכִּירָן וְלִטּל שְׂכָרָן. וְכֵן אִם הָיָה לְאָדָם מִשְּׁאָר הַכֵּלִים וְיֵשׁ לוֹ עֵדִים שֶׁהוּא מַשְׂכִּירוֹ תָּמִיד וּמַשְׁאִילוֹ וְהֻחְזַק לוֹ שֶׁהוּא לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר הֲרֵי הֵן כְּכֵלִים הָעֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר:


When the possible damage to an article is greater than the fee one would receive for renting it out, and people are therefore careful not to lend such articles - e.g., a ritual slaughterer's knife - it is an accepted presumption that it was not made with the intent of being lent or rented out. Therefore, even if people came and testified that a person lent out or rented out such an article on several occasions, their testimony does not negate this presumption, and these utensils are considered to be all other utensils.

Proof of this position can be brought from the fact that Ravva expropriated tailor's scissors used to make a cloak, and an Aggadah scroll as articles that were made to be lent or rented out. Had it not been clarified to him through the testimony of witnesses that these were entities that were lent out, he would not have expropriated them from the orphans. It is evident that other scissors and other scrolls are not placed in this category even though they could be lent or rented out.

This concept is a fundamental principle of law and a point of logic that may be relied upon in judgment. It is clear to those who give forth knowledge. It is appropriate for a judge to keep it in mind at all times and not to sway from it.


וּכְלִי שֶׁהֶפְסֵדוֹ מְרֻבֶּה מִשְּׂכָרוֹ וּבְנֵי אָדָם מַקְפִּידִין עָלָיו שֶׁלֹּא יַשְׁאִילוּהוּ הֲרֵי הוּא בְּחֶזְקַת שֶׁאֵינוֹ עָשׂוּי לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר כְּגוֹן סַכִּין שֶׁל שְׁחִיטָה. לְפִיכָךְ אֲפִלּוּ בָּאוּ בְּנֵי אָדָם וְהֵעִידוּ שֶׁהִשְׁאִילוֹ אוֹ הִשְׂכִּירוֹ זֶה אֵין מְבַטְּלִין בָּהֶן חֶזְקָתָן אֶלָּא הֲרֵי הֵן כְּכָל הַכֵּלִים. רְאָיָה לִדְבָרֵינוּ שֶׁהֲרֵי רָבָא הוֹצִיא זוּג שֶׁעוֹשִׂין בּוֹ הַסַּרְבָּל וְסֵפֶר הַגָּדָה בִּדְבָרִים הָעֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר. וְלוּלֵי שֶׁנִּתְבָּרֵר לוֹ בְּעֵדִים שֶׁהֵן מִדְּבָרִים הָעֲשׂוּיִים לְהַשְׁאִיל לֹא הוֹצִיא מִתַּחַת יְדֵי יְתוֹמִים. הָא שְׁאָר הַזּוּגוֹת וּשְׁאָר הַסְּפָרִים אֵינָן בִּכְלַל דִּין זֶה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן רְאוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר. וְדָבָר זֶה עִקָּר גָּדוֹל בַּדִּין וְהוּא דָּבָר שֶׁל טַעַם שֶׁרָאוּי לִסְמֹךְ עָלָיו וְלָדוּן בּוֹ וּבָרוּר הוּא לְמוֹצְאֵי דַּעַת וְרָאוּי לַדַּיָּן לָשׂוּם אוֹתוֹ לְנֶגֶד עֵינָיו וְלֹא יָלוֹז:

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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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