כ״ד בשבט ה׳תשע״ז (February 20, 2017)

Bava Batra 29a-b: Three Years Without Protest

As we learned on yesterday’s daf, when someone has a ḥazaka – presumptive ownership, he has been living or working on land for three years – it can serve as a proof to his claim that he had purchased the property. Although Rabbi Yoḥanan had suggested that the source for this might be the rule that an ox becomes mu’ad (considered a goring ox) after three consecutive violent incidents, on our daf Rava concludes that it is based on a psychological evaluation of property owners. According to Rava, someone might choose to allow his friend to use his field for one or two years without complaint, but if he returns to use it for a third year, he will protest. If he does not do so, it is an indication that the person working the field must have purchased it.

Abaye objects to this reasoning, arguing that we know that certain people will not let anyone step foot on their property without complaint, yet we cannot create a different set of rules based on each individual’s attitudes and reactions. In response to Abaye, Rava clarifies his explanation, saying that the three year period is based on how long we can anticipate that a person would hold onto the contract that serves as proof to the purchase of the field. After three years, we can no longer expect a person to produce the contract, and the fact that he has been working the field without complaint will serve as proof of purchase. Only if there had there been a complaint, can we expect the purchaser to know that he had to hold onto the contract to prove ownership.

Abaye objects to this reasoning, as well, arguing that according to this idea, the original owner could only complain in the presence of the person claiming the land, because if he complained in front of witnesses in another place, the person claiming the land could always say that he did not know that he needed to protect the contract, since he did not know that his claim was contested.

Rava responds to this argument by saying ḥavrakh ḥavra it lei, ve-ḥavra d’ḥavrakh ḥavra it lei – your friend has a friend, and your friend’s friend has a friend, as well. Thus we can be certain that word of a challenge or complaint should reach the ears of the claimant.

Previous
Next