ט׳ באייר ה׳תשע״ז (May 5, 2017)

Bava Batra 103a-b: Rocks in a field

As we learned on yesterday’s daf, if someone agreed to sell an area of land that will produce a beit kor, then obstacles on the field that will keep it from producing will not be included in the size of the field. The Mishna differentiated between rocks that are higher than ten tefaḥim, which are considered obstacles, and those that are lower than ten tefaḥim, which are considered part of the field.

The Gemara limits this allowance to specific circumstances. Thus Rabbi Yitzḥak teaches that even smaller rocks will only be considered part of the field if they are less than the space needed for planting four kabin, and Rav Ukva bar Ḥama and Rav Ḥiyya bar Abba teach that they must be spread out over the field, and not collected in one place.

Rabbi Yirmeya asks a series of questions to clarify this ruling. What if the rocks were set up in a pattern?

What if they were set up in a circle?

What if they were in a straight line?

What if they were in the shape of a “V”?

What if they were in a zig-zag shape?

The rishonim explain that all of these questions aim at a similar point. In a case where the above criteria are met – there are fewer than four kabin of rocks spread out over the field – will a pattern change our ruling? The Rashbam explains that an occasional rock does not serve as a major obstacle, but that a series of rocks may be bothersome when working a field. The Ra’avad and Ramah understand the question to be whether rocks set up in a pattern will be considered to be gathered together in one spot, which would make them an obstacle which is not counted as part of the field.

To all of these questions, the Gemara responds “Teiku.” The question stands and we do not have an answer.

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