Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Bava Basra 88

Bava Basra 88 contains the gemara's version of "you break it, you pay for it." Towards the top of Bava Basra 88a, the gemara states in the name of Shmuel that if one takes an object from a craftsman to examine and through an unfortunate circumstance the item breaks, the prospective purchaser must pay the craftsman for the item, provided that the item had a known fixed price.

The Rashbam explains that this involves an item like a pepper grinder where the craftsman makes many at a time and does not derive any benefit from the purchaser picking it up to examine the item. Indeed, the purchaser at this point becomes like a shoel (borrower) and is thus responsible for loss through oness.

The gemara then offers another example of "you break it you pay for it" where a prospective purchaser had picked up a piece of thigh meat to examine it. While he was looking at the meat, a horseman passed by and grabbed it out of his hand. They went for judgment before R' Yemar who ruled that the purchaser must reimburse the seller, provided that there was a set price for the meat.

Before the new mishna on 88a, the gemara discusses whether a person who separates produce while in the market may return the produce, or whether his separation has acted as a kinyan. The question is of importance when the produce is demai and the purchaser must take off ma'aser, then return the remainder of the produce and reimburse the seller for the ma'aser portion. The gemara says that a yarei Shamayim like R' Safra would have done this, but the gemara does not explain why R' Safra was pious.

The Rashbam fills in the blanks - that R' Safra was once praying when a man came and offered to buy something from him. R' Safra did not respond as he was in the middle of prayer. Taking the silence as refusal, the man then doubled his offer. R' Safra finished his prayer, but would only take the lower amount offer because he had decided to accept the first offer, but could not answer during the prayer.

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