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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 76a

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

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Mere delivery of the bond (mesirah) does not confer upon the buyer any right to the debt, but only to the scrap of paper (Tosef. Kid. I).
  2. The first Tanna only dealt with a ship; why then does R. Nathan introduce letters?
  3. Because meshikah is effective only in the case of an object of intrinsic value. The intrinsic value of a bond is only that of the paper which may be acquired by meshikah. The right to the debt, however, cannot be acquired except by 'mesirah.
  4. And movable objects, are acquired by meshikah alone.
  5. The reading just suggested cannot be the correct one.
  6. In addition to the delivery of the bond. V. 307, n. 2.
  7. Why then should R. Nathan make his statement at all?
  8. The first Tanna, like Samuel, requires full meshikah, viz., pulling the entire ship into a new position. R. Nathan, on the other hand, who obviously disputes this requirement, maintains, like Rab, that a slight pull is sufficient.
  9. R. Nathan and the first Tanna.
  10. That the right of ownership is acquired by meshikah either complete (according to Samuel) or slight (according to Rab).
  11. That of R. Nathan and the first Tanna.
  12. R. Nathan agrees with the Sages, and the first Tanna with Rabbi.
  13. V. Glos. The buyer acquires the right to the debt as soon as the bond is delivered to him.
  14. Even though the bill of sale had been delivered.
  15. The delivery also of the bill of sale is assumed (Kid. 47b).
  16. Why then does the first Tanna require meshikah?
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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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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. into his own grounds or domain.
  2. The place thus becomes his own territory and, thereby, acquires for him title to the ship.
  3. [H] reshuth harabbim, where it is impossible to perform meshikah which is effective only when the object is drawn into the buyer's own domain. Possession, therefore, is acquired by mesirah.
  4. Since the alley is not a reshuth harabbim, in the full sense, the public using it only occasionally. It may be regarded as the private domain of anyone who happens to be there, and, therefore, meshikah only can there be effected (v. p. 3. n. 3).
  5. The ship.
  6. Infra 84b.
  7. V. Glos. It is applicable in the case of a ship or large cattle.
  8. Reshuth harabbim where meshikah cannot be performed.
  9. Neither to the buyer nor to the seller.
  10. V. Glos.
  11. An alley is regarded as the territory of anyone who happens to be in it. The buyer and the seller are, accordingly, its common owners. Mesirah is effective only in reshuth harabbim, but not in an alley which is the common territory of both parties. and where meshikah, the better legal mode of acquisition can be resorted to (v. H.M. 297-8).
  12. [H] hagbahah. Lifting up the object, like meshikah and mesirah, is one of the forms of acquiring legal possession.
  13. Cf. Kid. 23b. How then could the latter Baraitha speak of reshuth harabbim, and yet provide for the acquisition by meshikah.
  14. In the last mentioned Baraitha.
  15. I.e., the vendor.
  16. Either by meshikah or by mesirah.
  17. Who hold that ownership may be acquired in reshuth harabbim by mesirah.
  18. In the last mentioned Baraitha.
  19. Who hold that mesirah is not effective in reshuth harabbim since they require that the boat be pulled out from the public domain into an alley.
  20. The buyer.
  21. I.e., even the Rabbis would agree that possession is acquired in reshuth harabbim by mesirah.
  22. I.e., he indicated his desire to be able to withdraw from the sale so long as the buyer had not pulled and removed the object away from the reshuth harabbim into his own territory. Mesirah is, therefore, not effective.
  23. Rabbi.
  24. I.e., by saying. 'Pull'.
  25. The buyer, having acquired the ship by mesirah, is told by the other: 'You may remove (pull) it at once into your own grounds'.
  26. [H] lit., 'obligation', 'pledge'.
  27. [H] lit., 'something heard'; usually a traditional law or decision.
  28. Lit., 'to tie, or to wrap, round the mouth of his bottle or flask.' Surely a bond is bought for the sake of the rights it contains; not for the purpose of being used as a mere scrap of paper.
  29. Lit., 'to wrap and to wrap'.
  30. Consequently, if the price given is higher (by a sixth or more) then the actual value of the piece of paper, the buyer may recover his money by returning the bond to the seller.
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