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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 155a

thus said R. Johanan to R. Simeon b. Lakish: According to my interpretation that1  proof [is produced] through the attestation of the deed, one can well understand how it was possible for the buyers to seize2  the property.3  according to you, however, since you maintain [that] proof [is to be produced] through [the evidence of] witnesses, how was it possible for the buyers to seize4  the property?5  — He replied to him: In the case of a protest on the part of members of the family I agree with you that it is no [legal] protest; [for] what do they plead? [That] he was a minor! [But] it is an established fact [that[ witnesses do not sign a deed unless [they know that] he was of age.6

It was stated: At what age7  [may] a minor sell his [deceased] father's estate? — Raba said in the name of R. Nahman: [When he is] eighteen years of age. And R. Huna b. Hinena said in the name of R. Nahman: [When] twenty years of age.

R. Zera raised an objection: It once happened at Bene-Berak that a person sold his father's estate, and died. The members of his family. thereupon.8  protested. asserting [that] he was a minor at the time of [his] death. They came [to] R. Akiba and asked whether the body might be examined. He replied to them: You are not permitted to dishonour him; and, furthermore, [the] signs [of maturity] usually undergo a change after death.9  [Now], according to him who said, 'Eighteen years of age'.

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Lit., 'to me, that I said'.
  2. Lit., 'to go down into'.
  3. And why the relatives were driven to protest. The buyers may have been able to secure the attestation of their deeds.
  4. V. p. 672, n. 12.
  5. Surely there were no witnesses to testify that the seller was of age at the time of the sale!
  6. This is the reason why the property was allowed to be seized by the buyers. Elsewhere, however, witnesses must be procured.
  7. Lit., 'From when'.
  8. V. supra p. 669. n. 1.
  9. Supra 154a, q.v. for notes.
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Baba Bathra 155b

one can well understand the reason why they came and asked whether the corpse might be examined.1  If, however, it is said, 'At twenty', what useful purpose could the examination serve?2  Surely we learnt:3  [If at the] age of twenty he4  did not produce two hairs,5  they6  shall bring evidence that he is twenty years old and he [becomes] a saris;7  he may neither perform halizah8  nor the levirate marriage!9  — Has it not been stated in connection with this [Mishnah], 'R. Samuel, son of R. Isaac, said in the name of Rab: That10  only [applies to the case] where [other] symptoms of a saris11  [also] appeared on his body!'12  Raba said: [This; may] also [be arrived at by] deduction. For it was taught, 'And he [becomes] a saris', from which [this]13  may [well] be deduced.

And. [in the case] where no symptoms of a saris developed, how long [is one regarded a minor]?14  — R. Hiyya taught: Until he has passed middle age.15

Whenever [such a case]16  came before R. Hiyya17  he used to tell them, if [the youth was] emaciated, 'Let him [first] be fattened'; and if he was stout, he used to tell them, 'Let him [first] be made to lose weight'; for these symptoms appear sometimes as a result of emaciation [and] sometimes they develop as a result of stoutness.

The question was raised: [Is] the intervening period18  [regarded] as that of under, or over age?19  — Raba said in the name of R. Nahman: The Intervening period is [regarded] as that of under age.20  Raba son of R. Shila said in the name of R. Nahman: The intervening period is [regarded] as that of over age.20  That [view] of Raba, however, was not stated21  explicitly but was arrived at21  inferentially. For there was a certain [youth], who during [his] 'intervening period' went and sold the estate [of his deceased father]. He came before Raba22  [who] decided23  that the action was illegal.24  [The student] who saw [what had happened] thought [that Raba's reason was] because during the intervening period [one is regarded] as being under age;25  but this is not [so]. In this [particular] case26  [Raba] observed excessive foolishness, for [the youth] was [also] liberating his slaves [without any apparent cause].27

Giddal b. Menashya sent [the following enquiry] to Raba:28  Will our Master Instruct us [as to] what [is the ruling in the case of] a girl [who is] fourteen years and one day old [and] understands how to carry on business.29  He sent [word] to him [in reply]: If she understands how to carry on a business, her purchase is [legal] purchase and her sale is [legal] sale.30  Why did he not enquire of him31  [about the case of] a boy? — The incident happened to be such.32  Why did he not address his enquiry31  [with reference to] a girl [who is] twelve years and one day old?33  — That case happened to be of such a nature.32

A certain [youth who was] under twenty [years of age] sold the estate [he inherited] from his father in accordance with [the decision sent to] Giddal b. Menashya. [When] he appeared before Raba34  his relatives told him,35  'Go [and] eat dates, and throw the stones at Raba'.36  He did so; [and Raba] said to them, 'His sale is not a [legal] sale'. When the verdict37  had been written out for him, the buyers said to him, 'Go tell Raba: The scroll of Esther38  [may be obtained] at a zuz [and] the master's written verdict39  [cannot be obtained] at [less than] a zuz!' He went and told him [so]. [Thereupon. Raba] said to them, 'His sale is a [legal] sale'.40  [When] the relatives told him41  [that] the buyers had taught him,42  he41  replied to them, '[But] he understands [that which] is explained; [and] since he understands when explained, he possesses intelligence,43  and his [previous] action44  was due to45  his excessive impudence.

R. Huna son of R. Joshua said: As regards [the giving of] evidence, his46  testimony [is legal] evidence. Mar Zutra said: This applies only47  to [the case of] movables48  but not to [that of] real estate. Said R. Ashi to Mar Zutra: Why only movables? [Is it] because his sale [of these] is a [legal] sale?49  If so,50  [would] the evidence of little children,51  of whom52  we learnt [that] their purchase [is a valid] purchase and their sale [is a legal] sale in [the case of] movables,53  also [be regarded as legal] evidence?54  — He replied to him: There55  it is required [that] both the men shall stand56  which is not [the case].57

Amemar said: His58  gift [is a valid] gift. Said R. Ashi to Amemar: [How] now! If in the case of a sale, where he receives money, it has been said that it is not [valid] because it is possible [that] he might sell too cheaply, how much more so [in the case of] a gift where he receives nothing! He replied to him:

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Because if the signs of maturity could not be found on the body of the youth he would rightly be regarded as a minor.
  2. Lit., 'when they examined him, what is it?'
  3. Nid. 47b; Yeb, 80a, 97a.
  4. Whose brother died childless and whose duty it is to marry his widow (V Deut. XXV, 5ff) or to perform halizah (V. Glos).
  5. The legal signs of maturity.
  6. The relatives of the widow, who desire to procure her freedom from the marriage or halizah.
  7. [H] wanting in procreative power.
  8. V. Glos.
  9. Cf. p, 673. n. 10. From this it follows that once the age of twenty had been reached, a person is considered to have attained legal majority though his body did not develop any signs of maturity. What, then, would be the use of the exhumation?
  10. The law that he is regarded as a saris. Described in Yeb. 80b.
  11. V. p. 673. n, 13.
  12. If these additional symptoms of a saris, however, did not appear. he is regarded as a minor provided the 'two hairs' have also not appeared. Hence an examination of the corpse could well reveal whether he was still a minor or not.
  13. That the additional symptoms of a saris apart from the absence of two hairs are required.
  14. If two hairs did not appear.
  15. Lit., 'most of his years', i.e., until he is thirty-six years of age. Man's span of life is assumed to be seventy years. (Cf. Ps. XC, 10).
  16. Of one who developed symptoms of a saris.
  17. For his decision as to whether it was a case of an established saris.
  18. The eighteenth year of a person's age. according to Raba, or his twentieth year, according to R. Huna b. Hinena, where he has grown the two hairs.
  19. Lit., 'as before time or as after time'.
  20. Cf. previous note.
  21. Lit., 'it was said'.
  22. To obtain a ruling on the legality of his action.
  23. Lit., 'told them'.
  24. Lit., 'be did not do anything'.
  25. Cf. p. 6740. 11.
  26. Lit., 'there'.
  27. And it was for this reason only that he treated him as one under age.
  28. Others, Rab.
  29. Lit., 'knows the nature of carrying and giving'.
  30. Though she is under twenty, her intelligence entitles her to the rights of one who is of age.
  31. Lit., 'and he should send to him'.
  32. Lit., 'the incident that was, was so'.
  33. At which age she becomes subject to the obligation of performing the commandments.
  34. Desiring to withdraw the sale on the plea that he did not understand the nature of buying and selling.
  35. The youth.
  36. That be might in consequence be regarded as irresponsible for his actions.
  37. [H], 'written document'.
  38. Which is a lengthy document.
  39. Which is a very short document. (CF. n. 16, supra.)
  40. By the argument he advanced the youth revealed that he was not lacking in intelligence. His sale must consequently be regarded as valid.
  41. Raba.
  42. That argument; but that the youth himself was incapable of any such reasoning.
  43. Lit., 'to know he knows'.
  44. His throwing of the date stones.
  45. Lit., 'and that is why he did so'.
  46. The evidence of a youth under twenty years of age but over thirteen, who produced the signs of maturity. though he is incapable of carrying on business transactions
  47. Lit., 'he did not say them but'.
  48. Only when the evidence is given in connection with a dispute concerning movable objects is his evidence valid.
  49. The Mishnah which regards his sale as invalid speaks of real estate and not of movables.
  50. Lit., 'but from now'.
  51. Of the ages of six or seven.
  52. Lit., 'that'.
  53. Keth. 70a, Git. 59a, 65a.
  54. Surely a child can hardly be relied upon as a witness!
  55. In the case of the evidence of witnesses.
  56. Deut., XIX, 17, referring to witnesses. (Cf. Shebu. 30a).
  57. Where children of six or seven give evidence.
  58. That of a boy who is thirteen years and one day old, who is unable to carry on transactions and whose sale of real estate is invalid.
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