Talmud Study - Lesson 5

An Ode to Pledges

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Talmud Study - Lesson 5: An Ode to Pledges

In this class, we explore the nature and reliability of pledges, whether an item found on one's property can be presumed to belong to him, and the evolution process of a halachic sales transaction.
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Bava Metzia, Talmud

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Laiv Levy Cleveland, Oh via jewish-discovery.com February 8, 2023

Rabbi, how do we protect the borrower who borrows something from the lender who intentionally lends an item that has issues, say a cow that has a health issue that is not obvious or an item that is broken in a way that is not obvious? He borrows the cow, it dies, or the item breaks.

Absolutely the best Talmud teaching I have ever had the privilege of hearing, thank you so much. Reply

Jonathan London September 2, 2018

The suggestion of Rabbi Akiva Eiger fails for the opposite problem of the Tosefes. It's not the wool on the sheep at time of transfer at issue. It's shearings containing wool that grows afterward. If the sheep becomes the property of the shomer retroactively at time of the loan, any prior arrangement made for the shearings growing after that time falls under the category of an arrangement for something that does not yet exist. (R. Meir notwithstanding)

The best fit must surely be that the time of transfer is the last time the shomer or one of his employees had control of the animal before the theft. For the very act of shearing a sheep, milking a cow or accessing any fruit of the animal may in itself be considered as an indication of possession, whether or not on the owner's property. So all shearings must be covered by this case.

A cow calving alone in a marsh is negligence.

I hope you'll be covering who values the sheep and when. Enjoying the vids. Thanks. Reply

Jonathan London September 5, 2018
in response to Jonathan:

I've thought of a second reason why R' Eiger's method may not be taught in the Talmud. The point is to answer the halachic question, how can the future thief's penalty be transferred when the object is not present? What if Rava gave a whole class of mechanisms involving retrospective transfer, not just one. The precise agreement between the guardian and the owner would determine the detail. For example, I ask you to look after my cow, and say you can sell the milk (making you paid). A mechanism is still needed, and Rava's first mechanism fits, but R' Eiger's doesn't. If we treat Rava's mechanism as a class, we can always tweak it to fit the agreement, and the halachic problem is answered.

So R Eiger's mechanism isn't needed as we already have two examples from Rava and one from R Zeira. So what if R Eiger also gave one and I gave one and you give one? How many does the Talmud need to make the point? Reply

Anonymous Barcelona November 9, 2017

The difference I see with that simple easy ruling of ownership of offspring before theft is the following.

You are given a sheep as a guardian, and the sheep has offspring. The thief stoles the sheep and his offspring, say one lamb.

Given retroactively ownership when starting guardianship with the clause on offspring, the guardian has not even the option to pay for the lamb, nor its extra benefits. Never was his.

In the second case before theft, the guardian is owner now of the main sheep, yet offspring never.

The easy solution exposed at the end, pose a problem now. The offspring would belong to the guardian after apprehending the thief. Moreover, the guardian does not know even if he has to pay for the main sheep, or also for the offspring in case the are stolen?
It just does not conform the the Talmud case.

Isn't it? Reply

Pam Maryland June 21, 2017

I love this course. So insightful. Reply

Many Thanks Florida November 24, 2015

Thank you My past attempts for Talmud study have been difficult and frustrating. I have found it to be intimidating and tedious. I am able to follow your classes and greatly appreciate the way you teach. Thank you very much for making this comprehensible, contemplative, and enjoyable. Reply

Richard Jacksonville, Fl March 14, 2012

R' Akiva Eiger's suggestion First, Thank you so much for your shiurim on Bava Metzia. My chavrusa and I are both just getting started in "serious" Talmud learning and your classes are helping us tremendously. I hope you are still checking these e-mails so we can thank you properly.

Anyjow, we probably missed a very basic point here, but we wonder how R; Akiva Eiger's suggestion relative to separating the acquisition of the cow and its profits solves the problem. That is, how can the guardian take possession of the profits if the cow is in a marsh? Isn't this the same acquisition problem that existed previously? There is no act of acquisition. Reply

Anonymous Barcelona November 9, 2017
in response to Richard:

This reason you mention means it may only resolve the same case that the first resolution.
I argue that it does not resolve the first resolution case either.
What if the the item has offspring, and the thief steals also the offspring?
To whom goes the stolen offspring if the thief is apprehended?
And the benefits of the stolen offspring?
By this ruling, the guardian would be the owner of the offspring at the time of theft if the offspring would be stolen, which would not be the same stated in the Talmud, hence not resolving it. Reply

Jonathan London September 2, 2018
in response to Richard:

I think it means that the shomer acquired retroactively, at time of initial acquisition, all rights to the sheep, except for the profits that accrue between the acquisition and the theft. So all rights are transferred at time of initial acquisition.

As the intent of the owner is implied by the act of passing on the sheep, the same rule can implicitly apply to offspring (profits). It belongs to the original owner, but if stolen, the shomer acquires retroactively, at time of initial acquisition (presumably at or shortly after time of birth), all rights to the lamb, except for any profits that accrue to the lamb between the acquisition and its theft. Reply

Barney Borås, Sweden January 6, 2011

Belated Thanks! Dear Rabbi Wolf,

Belated but heartfelt thanks for the wonderful gemorah lessons. I enjoy learning with you very much. You're very good at explaining the gemorah and presenting it in a very enjoyable and interesting way. I also very much like your comments at the end of each class. I usually watch/listen to each clasee 2-3 times during the week so I am only up to lesson 5 at the moment but look forward to following all of the lessons and hope you keep it up for a long time to come.

Thank You. Reply

kameo October 30, 2010

believable claim? Is there never a believable claim for the borrower to be exempt from payment?

Thieves can be very nasty, the borrower might have been threatened to give him the aninmal.

Is that not a believable claim to be exempt from payment?

I am still loving the lessons!, did not expect to be able to follow them! Reply

Anonymous Englewood, nj June 14, 2010

is there really an unpaid guardian? if an unpaid guardian receives the thief's fine - should the object be stolen and he wishes to pay - then this benefit should make him into a paid guardian. Even a potential benefit is a benefit - a lottery ticket has value even if it ultimately is not the winning ticket. How then can the mishnah bring a case of an unpaid guardian? Reply

luther Nashman new york, USA May 17, 2010

To Rabbi Wolf Talmud lesson 5 Thank you very much for answering me. You make a valid point! Reply

Robin Ziino Barrington, RI, USA May 17, 2010

Tamud Bavli The Schottenstein English Edition is very expensive. Is the Soncino Press edition good for studying? IThere is a website: Discountseforim that has very good prices. Is anyone familiar with them?
Thank you for helping with my questions. Reply

Manuel Gwiazda Buenos Aires, Argentina May 17, 2010

To Rabbi Wolf Dear Rabbi

I understand your explanation in terms of:

It is one thing to be the fellow, and another one to be the Judge ruling between two parties.


And by the way, I like the way you explain everything. Though the subjects are very complex, you make them crystal clear and above all, very interesting.

I hope you extend your Talmud classes to more than those scheduled. You are a great teacher.

Best regards Reply

Yitshak Ben Avraham/ Thomas McCord nashville, Tn./U.S. May 17, 2010

Tefillin If a borrower borrows Tefillin, and the Head Tefillin strap broke, should the Tefillin be replaced, or just the strap. Reply

David Holt Australia October 20, 2017
in response to Yitshak Ben Avraham/ Thomas McCord:

The whole Tefillin as a strap seperate from the Tefillin box might not be kosher. That is we cannot be sure that the Tefillin the strap came from was kosher. Reply

Eliezer Wolf NY May 16, 2010

To Channa Tosafos is speaking of a unique method of transaction which includes an evolutionary process, in which the item grows to become more and more yours until it finally becomes fully yours.

The legal parameters and practical applications of this phenomena are very interesting, however beyond the scope of this discussion.

A point to consider: What if I sell you an item from now and after 30 days. Then, on day 20, I sell it to someone else in one shot. What would you rule?

Re "you will be willing to compensate": As discussed in the class, R' Yochanan taught us that indeed a pledge would be sufficient. The only exception to this teaching might be the borrower, which we will discuss further in next class. Reply

Channa May 16, 2010

Resoultion 3 Tosafos seeks to resolve the problem by conveyance both now and at the time of sale. I have a question: In this instance does the word conveyance imply owership, and if so why not state so explicity, and how can an item be conveyed and not conveyed at the same time? "Now, AND just prior..." what logic is operational that something is conveyed yet not?
Second, in the "you will be willing to compensate..." Is this wording pursuant to exacting a pledge?

Anonymous Pembroke , NC May 14, 2010

In the 2nd resolution of the Talmud it seems to me that the guardian was negligent. How then can he benefit from this? His negligence allowed time for the aniaml to be stolen. He has no respect for the owners' property other wise he would be watching it better. So agian why should he get anything? Reply

Eliezer Wolf NY May 16, 2010

To Manugw Indeed, on a religious level, one must always judge another on the side of merit (unless there is sufficient reason not to). We believe that at the depths of one's soul, one always wants to do what is correct and just.

However, when discussing civil law, in which every decision about one person automatically affects another person, what right do we have to optimistically give credence to one's pledges when it may be at the expense of anothers' pocket? We need to be very careful when making such decisions that have multiple impacts upon several parties involved in the transaction.

The 'holiest' and most ideal method to implement is one in which all parties involved will feel safe and protected. Reply

Manugw Buenos Aires, Argentina May 14, 2010

About the pledge and Torah commandments After finishing this class, I was wondering..., As the Rabbies who were discussing the pledge at that time were Torah scholars, and..., they concluded that there are cases were the pledge was not enough as future evidence of payment or the guardian may swear in false, I try to enter the frame of mind of these Sages and ask:,.. .How do they reconcile this conclusions with the Torah commandment of "..Judge the people favorably." or ".Judge the people on the side of merit...."? In that case, I understand the pledge of your friend would be enough evidence of future payment, according to Torah standards. Reply

shaoul Boca Raton, FL May 13, 2010

Talmud lesson 5 very good, perfect, amount of minutes Reply

Maria Martinez Monte Vista, Colorado May 13, 2010

Talmud For Beginners Lesson 5 Enjoyed the class and am looking forward to the next one. Thank you and have a good Shabbat. 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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