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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra
you gave him to me as a gift, [but] if you wish, take an oath1 and you will get him back';2 and [the first] took the oath; [the latter] is not allowed to retract.3 What does he teach us?4 [The obvious principle underlying the law] has [surely] been taught [elsewhere]:5 [If one of the litigants] said to the other,6 'I have full confidence7 in my father,8 I have full confidence in your father, I have full confidence in three oxherds',9 R. Meir says, he may retract,10 and the Sages say he may not!11 He12 teaches us this: That the dispute13 [relates also to the case] where [a litigant declared], 'I will give it to you'14 and [that] the halachah is in accordance with the words of the Sages.
R. Abba sent to R. Joseph b. Hama: The halachah is that [a relative in the] third [degree] is qualified [to act as witness for or against a relative] in the second [degree].17 Raba said: Also [for, or against a relative] in the first [degree]18 also. Mar, son of R. Ashi permitted [a grandson to act as witness] for his father's father. The law, [however], is not in accordance with [the view of] Mar, son of R. Ashi.
R. Abba sent to R. Joseph b. Hama: If a person possessed evidence19 in one's favour [in the matter of a plot of] land, before he became blind, and [then] became blind, he is disqualified.20 Samuel, however, said: He is permitted [to give evidence], [since] it is possible for him to gauge [the extent of] its boundaries; but [in the case of] a cloak [he is] not [to be admitted as witness].21 R. Shesheth said: Even [in the case of] a cloak [his evidence is admissible, for] it is possible for him gauge the measurements of its length and of its breadth; but not [in the case of] a bar of metal. R. Papa said: Even [in the case of] a bar of metal, [for] it is possible for him to gauge its weight.
An objection was raised: 'If a person possessed evidence22 affecting another before he became his son-in-law, and, [subsequently,] he became his son-in-law, [or if that witness] had the faculty of hearing and became deaf, the faculty of seeing and became blind, sane and became insane, he is disqualified [from giving evidence]. If, however, he possessed evidence affecting him before he became his son-in-law, and when he became his son-in-law, his daughter died; [or if he] had the faculty of hearing, became deaf, and regained his hearing; [or if he] had the faculty of Seeing, became blind, and regained his eyesight; [or if] he was sane, became insane, and regained his sanity, [in all these cases] he is qualified [to act as witness]. This is the general rule: Whenever his beginning23 or his end24 was under a disqualification, he is disqualified, [but whenever] his beginning and his end [find him] in a suitable condition, he is permitted [to give evidence].25
Baba Bathra 128b
[This, surely, presents an] objection against all of them!1 — This is [indeed] an objection.
R. Abba sent to R. Joseph b. Hama: If one said [something] concerning a child among [his] sons, he is to be trusted.2 And R. Johanan said: He is not to be trusted.2 What does this mean? — Abaye replied: It is this that was meant: If one said concerning a child among [his] sons [that] he shall be heir to all his estate, he is to be trusted in accordance with [the view of] R. Johanan b. Beroka;3 and R. Johanan said [that] he is not to be trusted, in accordance with [the view of] the Rabbis.4
Raba pointed out a difficulty. [If] that [is the meaning, why the expressions], 'trusted' and 'not trusted'? 'He shall be heir' and 'he shall not be heir' should have been [the expressions used]! But, said Raba, it is this that was meant: If one said concerning a child among [his] sons [that] he was the firstborn, he is to be trusted,5 in accordance [with the view of] R. Judah;6 and R. Johanan said that he was not to be trusted, in accordance with [the view of] the Rabbis.6
R. Abba sent to R. Joseph b. Hama: If one said, 'Let my wife receive [a share in my estate] as [any] one of [my] sons,'7 she is to receive [a share] like [any] one of the sons. Raba said: But [only] in the property [which he had in his possession] at that time,8 and among the sons who may appear subsequently.9
R. Abba sent to R. Joseph b. Hama: [In the case when] one produces a bond of indebtedness against another, and the lender states, 'I received no payment at all', and the borrower pleads, 'I have paid a half', while witnesses testify that all [the debt] was paid, that [borrower] must take an oath,10 and the [lender] collects the [other] half from [the borrower's] free property but not from [that] which has been disposed of,11 for [the buyers or the creditors] can say, 'We rely upon the witness.'12 And even [according] to R. Akiba, who said [that he13 is to be treated in the same way as] one who returns a lost object,14 these words [apply only to the case] where there are no witnesses, but where there are witnesses [his admission may be due to the fact that] he is simply afraid.15 Mar son of R, Ashi pointed out a difficulty: On the contrary, even [according] to R. Simeon b. Eleazar who said,16 [in the case mentioned, that] he17 is [to he treated as] one who admits part of the claim, these words, [it may be argued, are applicable only to the case] where there are no witnesses who support him, but where there are witnesses who support him, he [should] certainly [be treated as] one who returns a lost object!18
Mar Zutra taught in the name of R. Shimi b. Ashi: The law in [the case of] all these reported statements [is] in accordance with [the messages] which R. Abba sent to R. Joseph b. Hama. Rabina said to R. Ashi: What [about the law] of R. Nahman?19 He replied to him: We learnt that [message of R. Abba as], 'they may not be seized', and so said R. Nahman.20 What, then, does [the declaration of] the law exclude?21
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