Bava Basra 137 continues the recent "Blackacre" discussions. I refer to them in this manner as my Property professor, Eva Hanks, used to call the land which was being given as a life estate "Blackacre". Now more than eighteen years later, I am learning gemara which offers hypotheticals including A gives Blackacre to B for long as he shall live, with the remainder to C. Or to use language of the gemara "Nichasai Lach, V' Achacrecha L'Ploni."
On Bava Basra 137a, Rav Nachman raises the following scenario - what happens if a person gives an Esrog to another for as long as he shall live, with the Esrog passing to another after his death. Can the person actually be mikayaim the mitzva of Esrog with this fruit, if part of the mitzva requires that the Esrog belong to the the user (learned from the use of "Lachem" in Parshas Emor)? In this scenario he only can use it during his lifetime, but title to the Esrog passes to another after death? The gemara resolves that it can be used, but then ties the question of whether it can be sold or eaten by the original grantee to a machlokes between Rebbi and Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel as to whether the benefit of using the peiros of an object also allows the recipient to alienate the item.
The more intriguing Esrog scenario comes on Bava Basra 137b where the gemara asks whether a person who receives an Esrog as a gift on condition to return it (Matana al Minas L'Hachzir) can be mikayaim the mitzva of the Esrog. Rava resolves that he can, provided that he actually returns the Esrog to the grantor. The Rashbam explains that the mitzva does not become effective until he returns the Esrog. As such, if he returns the Esrog, it bears out that he had proper ownership of the gifted Esrog when he used it. On the other hand, if he never returns it, then his use of the Esrog is illegal and he is not mikayaim the mitzva.
The gemara reminded me of a halacha I learned in regard to the use of Esrog on the first day by a minor. It is well established that a child does not have the ability to alienate property. Therefore, if one gives the child the Esrog on the first day of Yom Tov, the person cannot take the Lulav & Esrog back and be able to use them on the second day, since the items still "belong" to the child and cannot qualify as "lachem." For an in depth discussion of this problem and possible solutions, click here http://www.shemayisrael.com/yomtov/sukkot/arba.htm .
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