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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 149a

What [if he1  said]. 'Let him2  have the benefit of them'?3  Does he, [thereby] imply that they all shall be [treated as] a gift4  or, perhaps, he [only] meant that he5  shall have some benefit from them? What [is the law where he6  said]. 'He5  shall see them', 'Stand in them', 'Recline upon them'?7  — This is undecided.

The question was raised: What [is the law' in a case where a dying man] has sold all his possessions?8 — Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: If he recovered he may not withdraw; sometimes, however, Rab Judah said in the name of Rab [that] if he recovered he may withdraw. But there is no contradiction [between the two statements]. The one9  [refers to the case] where the money is [still] available;10  the other9  [to the case] where he paid away for his debt.11

The question was raised: What if a dying man [spontaneously] admitted [a debt]?12 — Come and hear: The proselyte Issur13  had twelve thousand zuz: [deposited] with Raba. The conception of his son R. Mari was not in holiness,14  though his birth [was] in holiness, and he was [then] at school. Raba said: How could Mari gain possession of this money? If as an inheritance; [surely] he is not entitled to [it as] an heir.15  If as a gift; the gift [surely] of a dying man has been given16  by the Rabbis [the same legal force] as [that of] an inheritance, [and consequently], whosoever is entitled17  to an inheritance is [also] entitled to a gift [and] whosoever is not entitled to an inheritance is not entitled to a gift [either]. If by pulling;18  they are [surely] not with him. If by exchange;19  a coin [can] not be acquired by 'exchange'.20  If on the basis of land;21  he has no land. If In the presence of the three of us;22  if he [were to] send for me I would not go.23

R. Ika son of R. Ammi demurred: Why?24  Let Issur acknowledge that that money belongs to R. Mari and [the latter] would acquire it by [virtue of this] admission! Meanwhile,25  there issued [such] an acknowledgement from the house of Issur.26  [Whereupon] Raba was annoyed [and] said,'They teach people what to say27  and cause loss to me'.28

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. The testator.
  2. The person named.
  3. Of the possessions bequeathed.
  4. For the donee.
  5. The donee.
  6. V. note 3
  7. Do these expressions legally ratify a gift?
  8. May he, if he recovers, cancel the sale as he may withdraw a gift?
  9. Lit., 'that'.
  10. In such a case it is obvious that he kept the purchase money in readiness for the purpose of returning it should he recover and decide to cancel the sale.
  11. In such a case he cannot, on recovery, cancel the sale.
  12. Or that the property he possessed belonged to another person. Is this spontaneous admission sufficient to entitle the person named to the ownership of the sum or objects mentioned?
  13. Issur, while still a heathen, had married Rachel, one of Mar Samuel's captive daughters. (Cf. Keth. 23a). While she was in her pregnancy and before she gave birth to the child (the future R. Mari). Issur embraced Judaism; and Mari was accordingly born from parents both of whom professed the Jewish faith, while his conception took place when one of them was still a heathen.
  14. l.e., while his father was still a heathen.V. n. 15. Hence he was not entitled to the heirship of his father's estate (v. Kid. 18a).
  15. V. p. 644, n. 16,
  16. Lit., 'made'.
  17. Lit., 'where he is'.
  18. Meshikah, v. Glos., supra.
  19. Heb., halifin (V. Glos.). whereby possession may be gained though the object to be acquired is kept elsewhere.
  20. Cf. B.M. 46a.
  21. That might be presented to him at the same time. (V. Kid. 26a). One may acquire a movable object (including money) by the acquisition of land that was sold or presented simultaneously with it though the former may not actually be delivered at that time.
  22. Issur, Mari and Raba. Lit., 'three of them', v. supra 144a. A person may instruct another from whom he claims anything to give it to a third party; and, if all the three are present at the time the instruction was given, the transfer is immediately binding even though the object itself was not with them.
  23. And thus the money would remain in Raba's possession. who held the view that he was entitled, as anyone else, to retain the sum of money which, on the death of Issur who was a proselyte, would become ownerless and free to anyone who would first gain possession of it.
  24. Surely there is a way by which R. Mari could obtain the twelve thousand zuz!
  25. The discussion at the academy having been reported to Issur.
  26. And R. Mari thus acquired ownership of the twelve thousand sins.
  27. Lit., 'plea', 'argument'.
  28. It is possible that Raba had no intention whatsoever to appropriate Issur's money and that the whole discussion of the possible legal means whereby R. Mari could acquire possession of his father's money was only the master's method of impressing these subtle laws upon his students' minds. No one at the academy suspected for one moment that the master would in all earnestness desire to retain the money he held as a deposit from one who obviously confided in him. Had Raba been in earnest he would not have spoken publicly about such a matter when he well knew that Issur was still alive and could easily find legal means whereby to transfer possession to his son, if not to reclaim the deposit himself. Raba's pretended annoyance and ironical exclamation, 'They teach people what to say and cause me loss', must have been just a mild chiding to the students or their friends who deprived him of the satisfaction of passing on the money to R. Mari as a generous gift rather than as something legally due to him. The mention of the fact that R. Mari was [H] 'at the master's house', i e 'school', which according to the ordinary interpretations has not much point (cf. Strashun a.l.) receives a new significance. It was discussed by Raba publicly despite the fact that R. Mari was himself at the school (perhaps Raba's very own school) and would well be aware of the whole discussion and could, if he chose, report it himself to his father and give him the necessary legal advice. The mention of R. Mari's presence at the school is probably the key to the indication of Raba's integrity and honour.
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Baba Bathra 149b

AND LEFT FOR HIMSELF SOME [PIECE OF] LAND, HIS GIFT IS VALID. And how much is SOME? — Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: Land sufficient for his maintenance, while R. Jeremiah b. Abba said [even if only] movables [that are] sufficient for his maintenance.

R. Zera exclaimed: 'How accurate are the reported traditions of the elders!1  What is the reason [in the case of the reservation of] land?2  [Because] he depended on it [for his maintenance] if he should recover; [in the case of] movables also [it may be assumed that] he depended on them if he were to recover'. R. Joseph demurred: Where is the accuracy? [Against him] who said, 'movables',3  [it may be objected that] we learned, land; [while against him] who said, 'sufficient for his maintenance', [it may be objected that] we learnt, 'whatsoever'!4  — Abaye replied to him: [Do you suggest that] wherever 'land' is stated, land only [is meant]? Surely we learnt: If one gave all his property to his slave, in writing, [the latter] goes forth [as] a free man.5  [If] he left [for himself] any land whatsoever,6  [the slave] does not go forth [as] a free man.7  R. Simeon said: [The slave] is always8  free9  unless [the master] said, 'All my possessions are given to my slave X, except a ten thousandth part of them'.10

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Rab Judah and R. Jeremiah b. Abba.
  2. I.e., why is the gift of a dying man valid in such a case, even if he recovered?
  3. That even the reservation of some movables renders the gift valid.
  4. [H] kol shehu, lit., 'any so ever'.
  5. Since the slave himself is part of the property the master gave him.
  6. Not specifying which.
  7. A slave is regarded as 'land', (real estate), and it is possible that by the reservation of 'some land' his master may have meant to exclude him. Hence, (since the property or a slave belongs to his master), the slave acquires nothing.
  8. Even if the master had reserved some land.
  9. Since people do not describe a slave as 'land'.
  10. By which expression he may rightly have meant the exclusion of the slave. Git. 8b; Pe'ah III, 8.
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