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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a

Baba Mezi'a 9a

they acquired it by this method. R. Judah says: One never acquires a camel except by pulling it, and [one never acquires] an ass [except by] leading it.1  In any case it is taught [here]: 'or if one was pulling, and the other was leading,' [from which we may infer that] pulling and leading are [legitimate methods of acquiring an animal], but not riding? — The same law applies also to riding, but the reason why 'pulling' and 'leading' is given here is [that it was desired] to exclude the view of R. Judah, who says, 'one never acquires a camel except by pulling it, and [one never acquires] an ass [except by] leading it.' We are thus informed that even if [the methods are] reversed they [the animals] are also legitimately acquired.2  But if so,3  let [the Tanna] combine them and teach: 'If two persons were pulling and leading either a camel or an ass'? — There is one side which [prevents the combination, as one of the two actions mentioned] is invalid [in the case of one of the animals]:4  some say, it is [the act of] pulling [in the case of] an ass, and others say, it is [the act of] leading [in the case of] a camel.5  There are some who construe the objection [to the validity of riding as a means of acquiring an animal] from the conclusion [of the quoted passage]: 'They acquire it by this method.'6  What are [the words] 'by this method' intended to exclude? [Are they] not [intended] to exclude riding? — No. [They are intended] to exclude the reversed [methods].7  But if so, this view is identical with that of R. Judah? — There is a difference between them [in so far as according to the first Tanna] there is only one side which is invalid:8  some say, it is [the act of] pulling [in the case of] an ass, and others say, it is [the act of] leading [in the case of] a camel.

Come and hear: If one rides on an ass, and another holds the reins,9  one acquires the ass, and the other acquires the reins. This proves that one acquires [an animal] by means of riding? — Here also [it is understood that the rider] drives it with his feet. But if so let the rider also acquire the reins?10  — Say: one acquires the ass and half of the reins, and the other acquires half of the reins. But [it is argued] the rider rightly acquires [his part] seeing that a rational person lifted up for him [the other end of the reins from the ground], but he who holds the reins — how does he acquire [his part]?11  — Say: One acquires the ass and [nearly] all of the reins, and the other acquires what he holds in his hand.12  But how is this? Even if you say that if a man lifts up a found object for his neighbour the neighbour acquires it,it could only apply to [a case] where he lifted it up on behalf of his neighbour, but this one lifted up [one end of the reins] on his own behalf: if he himself does not acquire it [by this action], how is he to enable others to acquire it? — Said R. Ashi: The one acquires the ass with the halter, and the other acquires what he holds in his hand, but the rest [of the reins] neither of them acquires.13  R. Abbahu said: In reality we may leave it as taught [at first].14  [and] the reason is that he [who holds the reins] can pull them violently and bring [the other end also] to himself.15  But R. Abbahu's view is a mistake: for if you do not say so, [how would you decide in a case where] one half of the garment lies on the ground and the other half [rests] upon a pillar, and one person comes and lifts up the half from the ground, while another person comes and lifts up the half from the pillar — will you maintain here also that the first one acquires it but the last one does not acquire it, for the reason that [the first one] can pull it violently and bring [the other half also] to himself?16  [We must] therefore [say that] the view of R. Abbahu is a mistake.17

Come and hear: R. Eliezer says: One who rides [on a found animal] in the country, or one who leads [a found animal] in the city, acquires it!18  — Here also the rider drives [the animal] with his feet.19  But if so, it is the same as 'leading'? — There are two ways of 'leading'.20  But if so, why does not he who rides [on an animal] in the city acquire it? — R. Kahana said: It is because people are not in the habit of riding in a city.21  R. Ashi then said to R. Kahana: According to this, he who picks Up a purse on a Sabbath should not acquire it either, seeing that people are not in the habit of picking up a purse on a Sabbath?22  But in fact he does acquire [the purse] because [we say:] What he has done is done;23  so here also [we ought to say]: What he has done is done, and he acquires [the animal by riding on it in the city]! — It must therefore be that we deal here with [a case of] buying and selling, where he says to him:24  'Acquire it in the way people usually acquire [a bought article]',25

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. [Camels are usually tugged at the halter; asses are driven from behind.]
  2. I.e., that leading is valid even in the case of a camel, and that pulling is valid also in the case of an ass.
  3. If there is no distinction between the mode of acquiring a camel and that of acquiring an ass, there is no need to state the two cases separately.
  4. Therefore the Tanna could not adopt the phrasing first suggested, and he had to say: 'If two persons were pulling a camel or leading an ass, or if one was pulling and one was leading,' viz., the animal which can be acquired by either method, — but this would not apply to the other animal, which could only be acquired by one of the methods.
  5. Some of the Rabbis thought that an ass could not be acquired by pulling (while a camel could be acquired either by pulling or by leading), and others thought that a camel could not be acquired by leading (while an ass could be acquired either by leading or by pulling).
  6. This was at first understood to mean that both the camel and the ass could be acquired by either method.
  7. I.e., pulling in the case of an ass, and leading, in the case of a camel.
  8. According to R. Judah pulling is applicable to a camel only, and leading is applicable to an ass only, while according to the first Tanna one of the animals can be acquired by either method.
  9. But does not lead or drive the animal.
  10. If the rider has acquired the ass legitimately, the reins should also go to him, as they are attached to the ass and are intended to serve as an ornament for the animal.
  11. Seeing that the other end is attached to the ass and has not been lifted up by the person to whom the reins are awarded, and seeing also that an ownerless object can be acquired only by one who removes the whole of it, how can the person that holds the reins attached to the ass be said to have acquired them?
  12. For the part that he holds in his hand has been entirely lifted by him.
  13. And if a third person were to come and appropriate it, it would be his.
  14. Viz., one acquires the ass, and the other the reins, including the halter.
  15. The person that holds the other end of the reins could, by violent pulling, remove also the end that is attached to the head of the ass, as owing to the elevated position of the ass's head it would be easy to pull off the halter with the reins by one sharp tug.
  16. If a distinction were to be made between cases on the ground that the position of the other end, or the other half, of the found object might facilitate its removal by the person that holds the first end or first half, then if a garment is found one half of which rests on a pillar, or on some other elevation that would facilitate the removal of the whole garment by one strong pull on the part of the person that has seized the low-lying end, the law of our Mishnah which divides the garment between the two claimants should not apply, and the first claimant (who seized the low-lying end of the garment) should receive the whole garment. But the law recognises no such distinction. Hence R. Abbahu is mistaken in the view he advances
  17. The word used in describing R. Abbahu's error occurs in several places in the Talmud. It is regarded as a courteous substitute for other terms which might be used in refuting wrong decisions, but which would appear derogatory to the dignity of the Rabbis who committed the error. The term is associated with the word [H], meaning something external, which does not fit in, and which is therefore rejected. In other places, however, (such as Pes. 11a; B.B. 145a) the rendering is [H], an invention, an unfounded assertion.
  18. This would at least prove that riding is a legitimate method of acquiring an animal, even though riding in a city is excluded (for the reason given below).
  19. V. supra p. 44, n. 3.
  20. V. ibid. n. 5.
  21. It is regarded as unbecoming to ride in the streets of a town.
  22. As it is improper to pick it up and carry it away on a Sabbath.
  23. Even if the action is improper, it has legal validity.
  24. I.e., the seller to the buyer.
  25. And as long as the buyer takes possession of the animal in a manner which is not unusual, he acquires it legally.
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Baba Mezi'a 9b

so that if [the buyer rides on the animal in] the open street1  he acquires it, or if he is an important personage he acquires it,2  or if [the buyer] is a woman she acquires it,3  or if [the buyer] is a mean person4  he acquires it.

R. Eleazar inquired: If one says to another, 'Pull this animal along so that you may acquire the vessels that are [placed] upon it,'5  what is the law? [But, it is at once objected, by saying], 'so that you may acquire;' does he really tell him, 'Acquire'?6  [The question must] therefore [be put this way]: [If one says to another,] 'Pull this animal along and acquire the vessels that are [placed] upon it,' what is [the law]? Does the pulling of the animal enable him to acquire the vessels or not? — Said Raba: [Even] if he says to him, 'Acquire the animal and the vessels [at the same time],' does he then acquire the vessels?7  Is not the animal like a moving courtyard? And a moving courtyard does not enable [its owner] to acquire [the objects placed in it]!8  And if you should say [that he acquires them] when it stands still,9  [then it would be objected:] Is it not [the law] that whatever does not acquire while in motion, does not acquire even while standing still or at rest? [It must be admitted, however, that] the [above] law obtains when [the animal] is tied.10

R. Papa and R. Huna said to Raba: According to this,11  if one sails on a boat, and fish jump and fall into the boat, [do we] then also [say] that [the boat] is [like] a 'moving courtyard' and it does not enable [its owner] to acquire [the objects placed in it]? — He [Raba] answered them: The boat is really at rest, only the water moves it along.

Rabina said to R. Ashi: According to this, if a married woman walks in a public street, and the husband throws a bill of divorcement into her lap or into her basket,12  [do we] then also [say] that she is not divorced?13  — He answered him: The basket is really at rest, and she walks underneath.14


GEMARA. We have learned elsewhere:16  If one gleaned the corner of a field17  and said, 'This is for that poor person.' R. Eliezer says: he conferred possession [of the gleaning] on that person.18  But the Sages say: He must give it to the first poor person that comes along. 'Ulla said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: The difference of opinion [between R. Eliezer and the Sages] concerns [a case where] a rich person [gleaned] for a poor person. R. Eliezer is of the opinion [that] [i] since, if he had wished, he could have declared his possessions public property, so that he would have become a poor man [himself] and would have been entitled [to the gleanings of the corner], he is entitled [to them] even now, and [ii] since he might thus take possession [of them] for himself,19  he could also confer possession [of them] upon his neighbour. But [the Sages] are of the opinion [that] we can use the Since argument once but not twice.20  But [in a case where] a poor person [gleaned] for [another] poor person all are of the opinion that he could confer possession [of the gleanings] upon that person, for since he could take possession [of them] for himself he could also confer possession [of them] upon his neighbour.21

R. Nahman said to 'Ulla: And why not say, Master, that the difference of opinion [between R. Eliezer and the Rabbis] concerns [even a case where] a poor person [gleaned] for a poor person. — seeing that in regard to a found object all are [in the same legal position as the] poor are in regard [to the corner of the field]?22  And we learned: IF ONE, RIDING ON AN ANIMAL, SEES A LOST ARTICLE AND SAYS TO HIS NEIGHBOUR: 'GIVE IT TO ME'; THE LATTER TAKES IT UP AND SAYS: 'I ACQUIRED IT [FOR MYSELF].' — [THEN] IT IS HIS. Now, it is all correct if you say that the difference of opinion [between R. Eliezer and the Rabbis] concerns [even a case where] a poor person [gleaned] for a poor person.23  [for]

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Where it is usual to ride on a bought animal, instead of leading it, in view of the possibility of passers-by intervening between the animal and the person that leads it.
  2. For it is usual for an important person to ride on an animal even in a side-street where there are no people about, as leading an animal by the reins is undignified.
  3. A woman is, as a rule, not strong enough to prevent the animal from breaking loose. She does not, therefore, usually lead it.
  4. A person that has no dignity will ride on an animal in any circumstances, whether it is regarded as proper for him to do so or not, but the ordinary person, whose standing is neither too high nor too low, will not, as a rule, ride on an animal in town in a quiet street. In such circumstances, riding would not be a legitimate way of acquiring the animal if the buyer has been told to acquire it 'in the usual manner'.
  5. The speaker has sold the vessels to the other, but he has not sold him the animal.
  6. I.e., the words 'so that you may acquire', spoken by the seller, do not convey the direct authorisation which the buyer must receive before he can really acquire the vessels.
  7. Raba assumes that R. Eleazar asks his question regarding the vessels placed on the animal because he has in mind a case where the animal itself has not been sold, and he concludes from this that, where the animal has been sold with the vessels, R. Eleazar would be sure that the buyer would acquire the vessels simultaneously with the animal, as he pulls it along, because the animal would then be regarded in the same light as his courtyard, which enables the owner to acquire whatever is placed in it. Raba then objects that the moving animal, like anything else on the move, does not convey to the owner possession of the articles placed upon it.
  8. The original law regarding the utilisation of a person's premises for the purpose of acquiring the objects placed within them only applies to fixed premises; cf. Git. 77a.
  9. I.e., after it has been pulled along by the buyer, and has thus been acquired by him, the animal comes to a standstill, and it may then be regarded as a 'fixed courtyard'.
  10. As the animal is then unable to move, it is rightly regarded as a 'fixed courtyard'.
  11. I.e., according to your view that a 'moving courtyard' does not enable its owner to acquire the objects placed therin,
  12. The basket which women used to carry on their heads, and which served the purpose of a work-basket.
  13. The Mishnah in Git, 77a makes it clear that in such circumstances the wife is divorced.
  14. The basket is therefore like a 'fixed courtyard'.
  15. For as soon as he handed over the found object to that person it became the latter's property, no matter whether the former first acquired it for himself or not, and his subsequent declaration is of no avail.
  16. Pe'ah. IV, 9; Cf. Git. 113.
  17. V. Lev. XIX, 9.
  18. The gleaner of the corner of the field, who according to R. Eliezer may confer possession of the gleanings upon a poor individual, would have to be a stranger, not the owner of the field. For the owner, even if he is poor himself, has no right to the gleanings of the corners of his field (cf. Hul., 131a), and he could not therefore acquire it for others. As the argument 'Since (Miggo) he can take possession of it for himself he may also confer possession of it upon someone else' could not in this case be used, R. Eliezer would also say that the other poor person is not entitled to the gleanings to the exclusion of anyone else.
  19. I.e., if he had, in the stated circumstances, desired to acquire the gleanings, he could have legally made them his own.
  20. Only one miggo can be applied to a case, but not two miggos. In this case we would first have to say: miggo (since) a poor man can acquire the gleanings for himself he can also acquire them for a poor neighbour; and then we would have to say: miggo (since) if he wished to renounce his property he could acquire the status of a poor man, he may be given such status even if he is rich.
  21. The one miggo would be accepted by all.
  22. Just as every poor person has a right to glean the corners of a field, so every person who finds an object has a right to pick it up and acquire it.
  23. And the Rabbis who differ from R. Eliezer would hold the view that although we may say, in the case of two persons picking up together a found object that each one acquires it for the other at the same time as he acquires it for himself (v. supra p. 37), yet in this case they would say that one poor man cannot acquire the gleanings for the other poor man. For in the case of the found object the argument is: 'Since (Miggo) he takes possession of it for himself, he may also take possession of it for his neighbour.' But in the case of the gleanings the argument would have to be: 'Since (Miggo), if he had wished, he could have taken possession of it for himself, he may also take possession of it for his neighbour' — and such an argument the Rabbis would not adopt. It would only be a potential miggo, which the Rabbis would not regard as valid.
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