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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra
or by a bill of sale.1 'Letters'! Who mentioned them?2 — Something is missing [in the statement of the first Tanna], and the following is the correct reading: A ship is acquired by meshikah, and letters by mesirah.3 R. Nathan said: A ship and letters are acquired by meshikah and by a bill of sale. [But] why should a bill of sale be required in [the case of] a ship? [Surely] it is a movable object!4 But no,5 the following is the correct reading: A ship is acquired by meshikah and letters by mesirah. R. Nathan said: A ship [is acquired] by meshikah, and letters by a bill of sale.6 [Is not the statement of R. Nathan], 'a ship [is acquired] by meshikah', identical with that of the first Tanna?7 [May we not then conclude that] they differ on the same principles as Rab and Samuel?8 — No; [the views of] both9 are either like [those of] Rab or like [those of] Samuel; and in [the case of] a ship there is no dispute whatsoever between them. They differ only in [the case of] letters. And this is what R. Nathan said to the first Tanna: in [the case of] a ship I certainly agree with you;10 but, as regards letters, if there is [also] a bill of sale he does [acquire the right to the debt]; otherwise, [he does] not.
And their dispute11 is analogous to that of the following Tannaim.12 For it has been taught: Letters may be acquired by mesirah,13 these are the words of Rabbi. But the Sages say: Whether [the seller] has written [a bill of sale] but has not delivered [the bond],14 or whether he has delivered [the bond] but has not written [a bill of sale], [the buyer] does not acquire possession until [the seller] has written [the bill of sale] and delivered [the bond].15
How has the matter been established? [That the first Tanna is] in agreement with Rabbi! Should not [then] a ship also be acquired by mesirah?16 For it was taught: A ship is acquired by mesirah, these are the words of Rabbi. And the Sages say: It is not acquired
Baba Bathra 76b
until [the buyer] has pulled it,1 or until he has hired the place it occupies!2 — This is no difficulty. [Rabbi] here [where mesirah is sufficient] refers to the case of a ship in public territory;3 [the Tanna] there [where meshikah is required] deals with the case of a ship in an alley [adjoining a public place].4
How have you explained the last [mentioned Baraitha? That it speaks of a ship] in reshuth harabbim! Read [then] the last clause: 'And the sages say: It5 is not acquired until [the buyer] has pulled it or until he has hired the place it occupies'. Now, if [the ship is] in reshuth harabbim, from whom could he hire [the place]? Furthermore, can legal ownership be acquired in reshuth harabbim by meshikah? Surely both Abaye and Raba stated:6 Mesirah7 confers legal ownership in reshuth harabbim8 or in a court-yard which belongs to neither of them;9 meshikah10 confers ownership in an alley11 or in a court-yard owned by both of them; and lifting12 confers ownership everywhere!13 What is really the meaning of the expressions,14 until [the buyer] has pulled it' and 'until he has hired the place it occupies'? — [They mean] 'Until [the buyer] has pulled it]' out from the reshuth harabbim into an alley; and, if the place is the property of the owner,15 he does not acquire ownership16 'until he has hired the place it occupies'.
Must it [then] be said that Abaye and Raba17 follow Rabbi18 [and not the Rabbis19 who are the majority]? — R. Ashi said: If the [seller] told him,20 'Go, take possession and acquire', even [the Rabbis would say] so.21 Here, however, we deal with a case when [the seller] said to him, 'Go, pull and acquire' — The Rabbis hold the opinion that [by this expression he] intimated his objection22 [to any other mode of taking possession] and the other23 holds the opinion that [by this]24 he was merely indicating to him a [suitable] place.25
R. Papa said: He who sells a bond to his friend must also give him in writing [the following statement]: 'Acquire it and all rights26 contained therein'. R. Ashi said: When I quoted this law27 in the presence of R. Kahana I said unto him: '[possession of the debt is acquired accordingly] only because he has written for him in this manner, but had he not so written, no possession would be acquired, — does one then require [a bond] to use as a stopple for his bottle?'28 He said unto me: 'Yes, just29 to use it as a stopple.'30
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