Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Bava Metzia 101

Bava Metzia 101 contains a number of interesting issues and could easily be a tikun leil shavuous gemara. Having said that, I would like to briefly touch on a few things which I found interesting.

Within a discussion about trees which were washed away by a river, the gemara digresses to discuss an ancestral field in Israel which was stolen by a gentile, who then wanted to rent it to the family of the original owner. The proposed arrangement allowed the farmer to keep half of the produce from the field. The gemara relates that the farmer was given a fine in that when he pays the gentile, he must pay him a full half of the produce and cannot pass off half the ma'aser obligation on the gentile. After discussing whether a gentile's acquisition of land in Israel can nullify the obligation to give ma'aser, the gemara then quotes R' Yochanan who says that the fine exists to make the field "firm" in his hands.

Rashi explains that because the family member must pay the extra ma'aser obligation, he will eventually get fed up and buy the field back from the gentile. Thus the fine acts to encourage him to reacquire the land.

Tosafos (d'h "Kidei") quotes Rabbeinu Chananel who says that the fine works in the opposite direction. The farmer will not want to pay the fine and no one will work the land. As such, the gentile will have an impetus to sell it back to the family at a reduced rate.

Another interesting discussion can be found on Bava Metzia 101b which contains the halachic rules of the landlord/tenant relationship. Included in this discussion is the amount of notice a landlord must give the tenant before he chooses to not renew the tenant's lease. Additionally, the gemara discusses when a landlord may raise the rent at the expiration of the lease. Furthermore, the gemara discusses the landlord's obligation in relation to the upkeep of the premises, including maintaining the doors, windows, lock and supports for the roof and walls. Meanwhile, the tenant is obligated to perform all maintenance which does not require a skilled laborer. Examples of these tasks included thatching a leaking roof and fixing a gutter/leader which broke away from the building.

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