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Talmud Study - Lesson 4

The Invisible Acquisition


Talmud Study - Lesson 4: The Invisible Acquisition

In this class, we will encounter a compelling challenge to the Mishnah’s ruling, and discover a brilliantly crafted resolution. We will also explore the following questions: Can one acquire an item that doesn’t yet exist? Can past events be retroactively reinterpreted?
Lesson 4 Handout, Lesson 4: Talmud Text, Lesson 4: Talmud Text in English
Listen to Audio | Download this MP3
Talmud, Tractate Bava Metziah

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Susan Hirshorn Boca Raton FL February 9, 2018

When a thief "confesses" Question re: the thief foregoing the "fine" part if he confesses (per Exodus 22:8). This seems a bit illogical. Let's say a person is a professional thief (G-d forbid). If he knows he can reduce his risk if he gets caught simply by confessing (thus having to return the item, animal or sum stolen without the fine) where is the element of deterrent? It's not so bad to return an item that didn't belong to you anyway (what do you lose?). But it is a deterrent if you have to pay a fine on top of it. Please explain? Reply

Michael Marko Miami Beach, FL November 7, 2017

I love this. Reply

Luis Funza, Colombia August 7, 2017

If I am studying a portion of the Torah, how can I relate it with the Talmud? Reply

Jenifer Nech Houston, TX March 5, 2017

Thank you Rabbi Wolf for making studying the Talmud possible for me. I am a regular visitor to the Torah teachings with Rabbi Gordon. I am also in the process of converting to Judaism which called to me while I was studying history. I was taking a course in the Bible (The Great Courses on Audible). This led me to Judaism as I studied the first 5 books of the bible. Thank you. Reply


Getting to know my Jewish Brothers Greetings - as a Christian it has been delightful to study and learn the Jewish faith. From the Torah, to the Mishnah, to the Talmud to the Gemara (God's revealed Word). I really appreciate the fine work of this class and the quality of the delivery. Thank You!!! Reply

Rachel Colorado December 29, 2013

Wonderful class... I love this class and look forward to each one. I have been a secular Jew for many years and with this teach, this class I find myself wondering back to Hashem. What a righteous teacher, Eliezer, you are! I am fortunate to have found you.
Shalom Reply

Rena Cats Belp, Switzerland April 7, 2013

Brilliant Rav Wolf, thank you for making studying the Talmud possible. I have no possibilities to do so here in Switzerland, at least not for women. Thank you so much. Reply

jerry weil palo alto ca December 5, 2012

For a secular reform Jew who is 72 years old your teachings are bringing light to my life. Reply

Anonymous April 16, 2012

Thank you Thank you so much for facilitating this series for us who do not have a jeshiva in our town or a possibility to study with someone! G-d bless you! Reply

W Segal Yorktown Heights, NY/USA December 11, 2011

Thank you so much I can't tell you how much I enjoy learning through your lectures. What a wise teacher you are to take such complex material and make it so accessible, so understandable. What a blessing this series is! Reply

Chaiya Sheffe Barrie, Canada November 26, 2011

Brilliant! It is only when we take that tiny first step; (a step that seems insurmountably enormous at the time) it is then that true transformation can take place, Baruch HaShem! Observance is NOT enough! Passion for His presence must be all-consuming . . . . Reply

Ben Arlington, VA October 27, 2011

A Most Excellent Class Thanks again for a thoughtful and thought provoking class! I can't imagine how tricky it is to teach to a video camera -- and yet, you do it in such a way that makes me feel like I'm right there in the room. Thanks! Reply

Jason london, england March 22, 2011

shearing milking etc Of course if you are a guardian, you are obligated to ensure the health of the animal is preserved,
i.e. if a cow is not milked, or a sheep is not sheared, then the animal will come to harm and suffering, which the guardian is obligated to ensure does not happen.

this lesson teaches us once again, that viewed in the right way, the cloth can be cut whichever way you choose!
for every river has and follows its own riverbed! Reply

kameo October 29, 2010

Negligence As far as i got it right, the guardian is due to not perform negligence, so to not use, touch or make production of the animal or product in him/her possession.

So in that respect i think, it is also not appropriate to do sheerings or offsprings with what is guarded.

So for me becoming an owner minutes before the theft makes more sense, cause until then you may not make use of the thing you are guarding and you can not be made guilty of negligence.

by the way: how must the owner proof that he did an act of acquisition? does he has to make oath for that? Reply

channa cairo May 16, 2010

produce from animal I found it clear that the owner would retain rights to the physical produce of an animal, as perhaps that animal was of a high level of breed for its kind and produced a superior quality product of wool, milk etc. and so it's offspring would also be genetically endowed with those features. That would have been part of the consideration in pricing the animal in the first place. As the other writer (may 8) names that regularized produce is a form of income. Those rights are not bequeathed if someone is safeguarding merely its well-being. Can this be an aspect as well? Reply

Kayo Tokyo, Japan May 16, 2010

Clear and beautiful Very clear and very nice. Reply

S. Friedman PA May 15, 2010

Class 4--Wouldn't this be easier? Awesome classes! You say there are two requirements--intent plus an act of ownership. So, why not simply say that the one of these requirements--intent--occurs at the moment the guardian pays the owner. There is intent to make the transfer of ownership at that point. The other required action--the act of ownership-- occurred earlier, when the item was given to the guardian. So, with the payment of the money both requirements are satisfied (and so the acquisition occurred at the point when both of these occurred). I understand that the item is now missing, but is that determinative? Both requirements have been satisfied even if not at the same time. And it seems like a more straightforward response?

Louie Modling Cat Spring, TX May 12, 2010

Thank You Thank you for the deep details. There is no law of G_d that is ever out of date. We only have a hard time figuring the laws out because of our need for spiritual insight. This is similar to Vayikra/Leviticus 19:20 - 22 where the Torah says, "If a man lies carnally with a woman and she is a slavewoman ...." Obviously, we no longer practice slavery, but the deeper spiritual point is that G_d will not be intimate with us and explain His Torah as long as we are in bondage (slavery) to someone or something else. G_d did not explain His Torah while the Children of Israel were under Pharaoh, but only after they left and went to the mountain. Reply

Arno-Aaron Potsdam, Germany May 11, 2010

market futures not allowed... @trevor
that is the way I look at it too.

Consequent Jewish life in line with Torah with celebrating the Sabbath and the Sabbatical year is imho the only way to demonstrate trust in G-d, in G-d's Word and to avoid calamities as the ones that are presently developing in the world. Reply

trevor waller May 11, 2010

The concept of not aquiring that which does not ex This talmudic concept seems not to allow the selling of "market futures" -- am I correct in my assumption? Reply

These Talmud classes will be studying and analyzing the third chapter of tractate Bava Metzia, which presents the Jewish approach in many matters of civil law, particularly vis-à-vis the different degrees of liability assumed by guardians, renters and borrowers.
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