Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Bava Basra 102

Bava Basra 102 continues the discussion of what to do when graves are found in a field. As part of this discussion, the gemara cites to a beraisa which poses the question of how to treat one, two, or three bodies which are found "mushkav k'darko" - lying in the proper fashion. The gemara recites that if it is one or two bodies, the field is not deemed a graveyard and the bodies can be disinterred and reburied on another site, provided that the earth which surrounded the bodies is transferred as well. If there is a third body buried in the same row, then depending on the spacing between the bodies, they may not be disinterred.

While the commentaries on the daf spend a considerable amount of space discussing the proper way to make measurements (including taking shots at the Rashbam for rounding up 7.2 to 8 when computing the diagonal used for the measurement of the next segment of the field), they do not discuss what mushkav k'darko means.

I spoke with a member of my daf group who happens to be on the chevra kadisha about this mushkav term. He explained that when preparing a body for burial, the custom is to have the hands down folded over the body. Thus if the body found buried in the field is discovered in a seated position, or with the head between its legs, the body would not be suspected to have been intentionally buried and would not count in the determination as to whether the field was a graveyard.

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