Once a person acquires a gift, he cannot nullify his acquisition. To cite an example: A person received a gift and acquired it. After it entered his domain while he remained silent, he retracted and said: "I do not desire it," "It is nullified," or "I see this blemish in it," his statements are of no consequence. Just as the giver cannot retract, so too, the recipient cannot retract once he has acquired it.

The gift that the recipient stated that he did not desire after it entered his possession becomes ownerless. The first person to take possession of it acquires it. For the recipient declared it ownerless after he acquired it. If, however, the recipient protested from the very outset, he does not acquire it, and it should be returned to its original owners.


הַמְקַבֵּל אֶת הַמַּתָּנָה וְזָכָה בָּהּ. וְאַחַר שֶׁבָּאָה לְיָדוֹ וְהוּא שׁוֹתֵק חָזַר בּוֹ וְאָמַר אֵינִי רוֹצֶה בָּהּ. אוֹ אֵינִי מְקַבְּלָהּ. אוֹ הֲרֵי הִיא בְּטֵלָה. אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר מוּם זֶה נִרְאֶה לִי בָּהּ. לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁאֵין הַנּוֹתֵן יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ כָּךְ הַמְקַבֵּל אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ אַחַר שֶׁזָּכָה. מַתָּנָה זוֹ שֶׁאָמַר הַמְקַבֵּל אֵינִי רוֹצֶה בָּהּ אַחַר שֶׁבָּאת לְיָדוֹ הֲרֵי הִיא הֶפְקֵר וְכָל הַקּוֹדֵם בָּהּ זָכָה בָּהּ שֶׁהֲרֵי הִפְקִירָהּ הַמְקַבֵּל אַחַר שֶׁזָּכָה בָּהּ. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה צוֹוֵחַ מֵעִקָּרוֹ לֹא קָנָה הַמְקַבֵּל וְחוֹזֶרֶת לַבְּעָלִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים:


The following rules apply when a person transfers ownership over an article to a colleague through the agency of a third party. Once the third party takes possession of it - e.g., he performs meshichah on movable property, a deed of transfer of landed property reaches his hand, or he manifests ownership over the land - his colleague acquires the gift, even though it does not reach his hand. The giver can no longer retract.

The recipient by contrast has the option in his hand. If he desires, he may accept it. If he does not desire, he need not accept it. For a positive acquisition may be made for his person without his consent, and an obligation cannot be undertaken on his behalf without his consent. If a person desires that a gift be given to him, it is considered to be a positive acquisition. If, however, he does not desire it, a person cannot be forced to accept a gift that is given to him.


הַמְזַכֶּה לַחֲבֵרוֹ בְּמַתָּנָה עַל יְדֵי אַחֵר כֵּיוָן שֶׁהֶחְזִיק בָּהּ אַחֵר כְּגוֹן שֶׁמָּשַׁךְ הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין אוֹ הִגִּיעַ שְׁטַר הַקַּרְקַע לְיָדוֹ אוֹ הֶחֱזִיק בַּקַּרְקַע זָכָה חֲבֵרוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעַ הַמַּתָּנָה לְיָדוֹ וְאֵין הַנּוֹתֵן יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ. אֲבָל הַמְקַבֵּל יָדוֹ עַל הָעֶלְיוֹנָה אִם רָצָה מְקַבֵּל אִם לֹא רָצָה אֵינוֹ מְקַבֵּל שֶׁזָּכִין לְאָדָם שֶׁלֹּא בְּפָנָיו וְאֵין חָבִין לוֹ אֶלָּא בְּפָנָיו וּזְכוּת הוּא שֶׁתִּנָּתֵן לוֹ מַתָּנָה אִם יִרְצֶה. אֲבָל אִם לֹא יִרְצֶה אֵין נוֹתְנִין מַתָּנָה לְאָדָם בְּעַל כָּרְחוֹ:


There is an unresolved question among our Sages when another person accepts a gift on behalf of the recipient, when the recipient hears about the gift and remains silent, and afterwards he protests and states that he does not desire to receive it. We do not know whether the reason he remained silent at first is that he desired to accept it, and the reason he protested was that he retracted. Or perhaps he remained silent at the outset because nothing had reached his hand at that time. When the article did reach his hand, he protested, and his ultimate statements reveal his original intent.

Therefore, if another person comes first and acquires the article himself, it should not be expropriated from his possession. For perhaps the recipient originally acquired the article, and when he said: "I do not desire it," he declared it ownerless, as explained above. Thus, the person who came and took possession of it while it was ownerless acquires it.

If, however, the original owner comes and takes the article out of the possession of the person who took it, it should not be expropriated from his possession. The rationale is that perhaps the recipient did not acquire it, for when he said: "I do not desire it," his ultimate statements reveal his original intent. Thus, the person who took possession of it did not acquire it, and it remained in the possession of its original owner.


זִכָּה לוֹ עַל יְדֵי אַחֵר וּכְשֶׁשָּׁמַע הַמְקַבֵּל שָׁתַק וְאַחַר כָּךְ צָוַח וְאָמַר אֵינִי מְקַבְּלָהּ. הֲרֵי זֶה סָפֵק אִם זֶה שֶׁשָּׁתַק כְּבָר רָצָה וְזֶה שֶׁחָזַר וְצָוַח חָזַר בּוֹ. אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁתַק מִפְּנֵי שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא הִגִּיעַ לְיָדוֹ כְּלוּם וְזֶה שֶׁצָּוַח הוֹכִיחַ סוֹפוֹ עַל תְּחִלָּתוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ אִם קָדַם אַחֵר וְזָכָה בָּהּ לְעַצְמוֹ אֵין מוֹצִיאִין מִיָּדוֹ. שֶׁמָּא הַמְקַבֵּל זָכָה וְכֵיוָן שֶׁאָמַר אֵינִי רוֹצֶה בָּהּ הֲרֵי הִפְקִירָהּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וְזֶה שֶׁקָּדַם וּלְקָחָהּ מִן הַהֶפְקֵר זָכָה. וְאִם חָזְרוּ הַבְּעָלִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים וּתְפָשׂוּהָ מִיַּד זֶה שֶׁקָּדַם וְזָכָה בָּהּ אֵין מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָהּ מִיָּדָם. שֶׁמָּא הַמְקַבֵּל לֹא זָכָה וְכֵיוָן שֶׁאָמַר אֵינִי רוֹצֶה הוֹכִיחַ סוֹפוֹ עַל תְּחִלָּתוֹ וְלֹא קָנָה אוֹתָהּ וּבִרְשׁוּת בְּעָלִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים הִיא קַיֶּמֶת עֲדַיִן:


The above principles can be applied in the following situation: Reuven desired to give 100 dinarim to Shimon. He sent him the 100 dinarim with Levi. If Reuven told Levi: "Acquire these 100 zuz on behalf of Shimon," or "Give these 100 zuz to Shimon," Reuven cannot retract his gift.

If, however, he tells him: "Bring these 100 zuz to Shimon," he has the option of retracting until the 100 zuz reach Shimon.


רְאוּבֵן שֶׁרָצָה לִתֵּן מֵאָה דִּינָרִין לְשִׁמְעוֹן וְשָׁלַח לוֹ הַמֵּאָה עַל יְדֵי לֵוִי. אִם אָמַר לוֹ זְכֵה בְּמֵאָה זוּז לְשִׁמְעוֹן. אוֹ תֵּן מֵאָה זוּז לְשִׁמְעוֹן. אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר לוֹ הוֹלֵךְ מֵאָה זוּז לְשִׁמְעוֹן יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ עַד שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ הַמֵּאָה לְיַד שִׁמְעוֹן:


In the above instance, if Levi took the 100 zuz that he was sent to bring to Shimon and looked for Shimon, but could not find him, he should return the money to Reuven.

If Shimon died during Reuven's lifetime, Levi should return the money to Reuven or to his heirs. But if Reuven died in Shimon's lifetime, the 100 zuz should be given to Shimon or his heirs.

The rationale is that it is a mitzvah to carry out the instructions of a deceased person, even though he gave those instructions while he was healthy. And in this instance, the 100 zuz are still in the possession of the agent.


הָלַךְ לֵוִי בְּמֵאָה זוּז שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּלְּחוּ עִמּוֹ לְהוֹלִיכָן לְשִׁמְעוֹן וּבִקֵּשׁ שִׁמְעוֹן וְלֹא מְצָאָהוּ יַחְזִיר לִרְאוּבֵן. מֵת שִׁמְעוֹן בְּחַיֵּי רְאוּבֵן יַחְזִיר לִרְאוּבֵן אוֹ לְיוֹרְשָׁיו. מֵת רְאוּבֵן בְּחַיֵּי שִׁמְעוֹן יִתֵּן הַמֵּאָה לְשִׁמְעוֹן אוֹ לְיוֹרְשָׁיו שֶׁמִּצְוָה לְקַיֵּם דִּבְרֵי הַמֵּת וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָמַר הַדְּבָרִים וְהוּא בָּרִיא. שֶׁהֲרֵי הַמֵּאָה בְּיָדוֹ שֶׁל שָׁלִיחַ עֲדַיִן:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


A person cannot acquire a gift on behalf of a colleague unless the person acquiring the gift is past majority and mentally competent. Both a man and a woman - indeed, even a married woman or a servant or maidservant can acquire property on behalf of another person.

A gentile, by contrast, cannot acquire property for a Jew. Since he is not fit to serve as an agent, he can never acquire property on behalf of a Jew. Similarly, just as a Jew cannot serve as an agent for a gentile, he cannot acquire property for a gentile.


אֵין אָדָם זוֹכֶה בְּמַתָּנָה לַחֲבֵרוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַזּוֹכֶה גָּדוֹל וּבֶן דַּעַת. וְאֶחָד אִישׁ וְאֶחָד אִשָּׁה וַאֲפִלּוּ אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ וְעֶבֶד וְשִׁפְחָה. אֲבָל הָעַכּוּ''ם אֵינוֹ זוֹכֶה הוֹאִיל וְאֵין רָאוּי לִשְׁלִיחוּת לְעוֹלָם כָּךְ אֵינוֹ זוֹכֶה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁאֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלִיחַ לְעַכּוּ''ם כָּךְ אֵינוֹ זוֹכֶה לְעַכּוּ''ם:


When a child reaches the state of understanding that when he is given a stone he throws it away, but when he is given a nut he keeps it, he can acquire property on his own behalf, but he cannot acquire on behalf of others. If he is less mature than this, he cannot even acquire property on his own behalf.

Similarly, a mentally or emotionally incompetent person cannot acquire property, neither on his own behalf nor on behalf of others. When a person gives property to a mentally or emotionally incompetent person through the agency of a mentally competent person, the incompetent acquires it.

A deaf mute can acquire property on his own behalf, as explained in Hilchot Gezelah.


קָטָן שֶׁנּוֹתְנִין לוֹ צְרוֹר וְזוֹרְקוֹ אֱגוֹז וְנוֹטְלוֹ זוֹכֶה לְעַצְמוֹ וְאֵינוֹ זוֹכֶה לַאֲחֵרִים. פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה לֹא זָכָה לְעַצְמוֹ וְלֹא לַאֲחֵרִים. וְכֵן הַשּׁוֹטֶה אֵינוֹ זוֹכֶה לֹא לוֹ וְלֹא לַאֲחֵרִים. וְהַמְזַכֶּה לְשׁוֹטֶה עַל יְדֵי בֶּן דַּעַת זָכָה. אֲבָל הַחֵרֵשׁ זוֹכֶה לְעַצְמוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת גְּזֵלָה:


One may acquire property for a minor - even a newborn child - or an adult, in his presence or outside his presence.

A person's courtyard can acquire property on his behalf even though he is not standing there. The rationale is that since the gift reached the person's courtyard, it is as if another person acquired it on his behalf.


זָכִין לְקָטָן אֲפִלּוּ בֶּן יוֹם אֶחָד. וּלְגָדוֹל בֵּין בְּפָנָיו בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא בְּפָנָיו. וַחֲצֵרוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם קוֹנָה לוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתּוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹמֵד שָׁם כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ הַמַּתָּנָה לַחֲצֵרוֹ כְּאִלּוּ זָכָה בָּהּ אַחֵר:


When does the above apply? With regard to a courtyard that is safeguarded. Different rules apply with regard to a courtyard that is not safeguarded - e.g., a field or a ruin. In such an instance, a person does not acquire an article unless he is standing next to the courtyard and says: "Let my field acquire the article for me."

Similarly, the area within a radius of the four cubits next to where a person is standing can acquire property on his behalf, if he is standing in an alleyway, at the sides of the public domain, which are not crowded with many people or in a field that is ownerless. However, when a person stands in the public domain or in a field belonging to a colleague, he does not acquire the article until it reaches his hand.

A female minor may acquire an article by virtue of its presence in her courtyard or within the area within a radius of four cubits of her. A male minor, by contrast, cannot acquire a gift unless it reaches his hand or is acquired on his behalf by another person.


בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּחָצֵר הַמִּשְׁתַּמֶּרֶת. אֲבָל בְּחָצֵר שֶׁאֵינָהּ מִשְׁתַּמֶּרֶת כְּגוֹן שָׂדֵהוּ וְחֻרְבָּתוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה עוֹמֵד בְּצִדָּהּ וְיֹאמַר זָכְתָה לִי שָׂדִי. וְכֵן אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת שֶׁל אָדָם שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד בְּצִדָּן קוֹנִין לוֹ בְּסִמְטָא אוֹ בְּצִדֵּי רְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אוֹ בְּחָצֵר שֶׁאֵין לָהּ בְּעָלִים. אֲבָל בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אוֹ בִּשְׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ אֵינוֹ זוֹכֶה עַד שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ מַתָּנָה לְיָדוֹ. וּקְטַנָּה תִּזְכֶּה לָהּ חֲצֵרָהּ וְאַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת שֶׁלָּהּ. אֲבָל הַקָּטָן אֵינוֹ זוֹכֶה עַד שֶׁתַּגִּיעַ מַתָּנָה לְיָדוֹ אוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּזְכֶּה לוֹ אַחֵר:


A gift is like a bill of divorce, in that a person cannot transfer words alone to an agent.

What is implied? If a person tells three people: "Tell so and so and so and so to compose and sign a deed recording a gift and give it to so and so," his statement is of no consequence. If these people convey these instructions to those witnesses and the witnesses write the deed and give it to the intended recipient, the recipient does not acquire anything.

Similarly, if a person tells two people, "Compose and sign a deed recording a gift and give it to so and so," they cannot tell a scribe to compose such a deed. Instead, they must compose it themselves, as applies with regard to a bill of divorce.


הַמַּתָּנָה כְּגֵט, שֶׁאֵין אָדָם יָכוֹל לִמְסֹר דְּבָרִים לְשָׁלִיחַ. כֵּיצַד. אָמַר לִשְׁלֹשָׁה אִמְרוּ לִפְלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי שֶׁיִּכְתְּבוּ וְיַחְתְּמוּ בִּשְׁטַר מַתָּנָה וְיִתְּנוּהָ לִפְלוֹנִי אֵין זֶה כְּלוּם. וְאִם אָמְרוּ לְאוֹתָן הָעֵדִים וְכָתְבוּ וְנָתְנוּ לַמְקַבֵּל לֹא קָנָה. וְכֵן אִם אָמַר לִשְׁנַיִם כִּתְבוּ וְחִתְמוּ בִּשְׁטַר מַתָּנָה וּתְנוּהוּ לִפְלוֹנִי אֵינָן יְכוֹלִין לוֹמַר לַסּוֹפֵר לִכְתֹּב אֶלָּא הֵן עַצְמָן כּוֹתְבִין כְּמוֹ בְּגֵט:


When a person writes a deed saying: "I gave such and such a field to so and so," "I gave it to him," or "Behold, it is his," the person named acquires the field when the deed reaches his hand.

When, by contrast, the prospective donor writes in a deed: "I will give it to him," the intended recipient does not acquire the property even if witnesses testify with regard to the document.

The intended recipient does not acquire the property until the giver tells the witnesses: "Compose a deed recording a gift, and give it to him." Then they should compose the deed and give it. The rationale is that a recipient does not acquire the property given to him until a deed recording the gift reaches his hand or until the giver transfers ownership of the property to him via a third party, as explained.


הַכּוֹתֵב בִּשְׁטָר נָתַתִּי שָׂדֶה פְּלוֹנִית לִפְלוֹנִי. אוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב נְתַתִּיהָ לוֹ אוֹ הֲרֵי הִיא שֶׁלּוֹ. הֲרֵי זוֹכֶה בָּהּ כְּשֶׁיַּגִּיעַ הַשְּׁטָר לְיָדוֹ. אֲבָל אִם כָּתַב בַּשְּׁטָר אֶתְּנֶנָּה לוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵעִידוּ עָלָיו הָעֵדִים. לֹא זָכָה הַמְקַבֵּל עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר לָעֵדִים כִּתְבוּ שְׁטַר מַתָּנָה וּתְנוּ לוֹ וְכוֹתְבִין וְנוֹתְנִין לוֹ. שֶׁאֵין הַמְקַבֵּל זוֹכֶה עַד שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ שְׁטַר הַמַּתָּנָה לְיָדוֹ אוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּזְכֶּה לוֹ בּוֹ עַל יְדֵי אֲחֵרִים כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:


When a person says: "I gave this and this field to so and so," but the recipient says: "He did not give it to me," we suspect that perhaps the giver had another person acquire it for him.

Different rules apply if the giver states: "I composed a deed and gave it to him," and the recipient states: "He did not compose such a deed, nor did he give it to me." If the recipient of the gift himself makes such a statement, the admission of the principal himself is equivalent to the testimony of 100 witnesses. Therefore the giver is entitled to receive the produce of the field.

If the son of the recipient is the one who states: "You did not give this field to my father," while the giver maintains: "I wrote a deed and gave it to him," the produce should be entrusted to a third party until the status of the field becomes known.


הָאוֹמֵר נָתַתִּי שָׂדֶה פְּלוֹנִית לִפְלוֹנִי וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא נָתַן לִי. חוֹשְׁשִׁין שֶׁמָּא זִכָּה לוֹ עַל יְדֵי אַחֵר. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר כָּתַבְתִּי וְנָתַתִּי לוֹ וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא כָּתַב וְלֹא נָתַן לִי. אִם הַמְקַבֵּל מַתָּנָה הוּא שֶׁאָמַר כֵּן. הוֹדָאַת בַּעַל דִּין כְּמֵאָה עֵדִים הוּא וְהַנּוֹתֵן אוֹכֵל פֵּרוֹת שָׂדֵהוּ. וְאִם בֶּן הַמְקַבֵּל הוּא שֶׁאָמַר לֹא נָתַתָּ לְאָבִי שָׂדֶה זוֹ וְהוּא אוֹמֵר כָּתַבְתִּי וְנָתַתִּי לוֹ. מַנִּיחִין אֶת הַפֵּרוֹת עַל יְדֵי שָׁלִישׁ עַד שֶׁיִּוָּדַע הַדָּבָר הֵיאַךְ הוּא:


When a person thought to have received a gift claims: "The object in my possession was not given to me as a gift; instead, I am a watchman for it," or the like, or he says: "The gift was nullified from the outset, because I did not accept it," "I was forced to accept it against my will," "I accepted it by mistake," or the like, his claim is accepted. He is required to take a sh'vuat hesset, and the gift is returned to its original owners.


מְקַבֵּל מַתָּנָה שֶׁטָּעַן וְאָמַר זוֹ שֶׁתַּחַת יָדִי אֵינָהּ מַתָּנָה בְּיָדִי אֶלָּא שׁוֹמֵר אֲנִי עָלֶיהָ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ. אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר בְּטֵלָה הָיְתָה מִתְּחִלָּתָהּ לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא קִבַּלְתִּיהָ אוֹ בְּעַל כָּרְחִי בְּאֹנֶס אוֹ בְּטָעוּת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ דְּבָרָיו קַיָּמִין. וְנִשְׁבָּע עַל זֶה שְׁבוּעַת הֶסֵּת וְתַחְזֹר לִבְעָלֶיהָ:


If the alleged giver of a gift denies giving it, and instead, claims: "You are a watchman over it," "I gave it to you unwillingly," or "It is stolen property that you have," and the person in possession of the disputed article states: "You gave it to me as a gift," the alleged recipient must support his claim with a Rabbinic oath. Afterwards, he is under no obligation.


טָעַן הַנּוֹתֵן וְאָמַר שׁוֹמֵר אַתָּה עָלֶיהָ אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתִּי נְתַתִּיהָ אוֹ גְּזוּלָה הִיא בְּיָדְךָ וְזֶה אוֹמֵר אַתָּה נָתַתָּ לִי. נִשְׁבָּע הַמְקַבֵּל שְׁבוּעַת הֶסֵּת וְנִפְטָר: