כ״ו באדר ה׳תשע״ז (March 24, 2017)

Bava Batra 62a-b: Defining a Field By Its Corners

How should we approach unclear statements made by the seller when delineating the borders of the field that was to be sold?

As we learned on yesterday’s daf, the fourth perek of Massekhet Bava Batra focuses on how to interpret agreements involving real estate sales. Our daf discusses a variety of cases where the field is described by means of neighboring fields. Among them are cases where the Gemara itself is unable to reach a clear conclusion about how to rule.

What if the seller specified what the corners of the field are? Should we assume that recognizing each of the four corners indicates that the entire field is to be sold, or might it indicate that only a limited area of the field is being sold?

Several options are raised by the rishonim in defining the possible limits of the sale.

According to the Rashbam, the option limiting the sale would be to recognize that emphasizing the four corners would create two diagonal strips that are sold (assuming that they have a minimum size of nine kabim – a unit of measurement), leaving the rest in the hands of the seller.

Rabbeinu Yona suggests that specifying the corners may limit the sale just to the corners themselves.

Another approach is suggested by the Ri Migash, who argues that the possible division suggested by four corners being sold would draw diagonal lines from one corner of the field to the other, dividing the field into four triangular quarters. The purchaser could conceivably receive two of those triangles, which would give him a share of each one of the four corners of the field.

The Ramah rejects all of these approaches and argues that in such a situation the purchaser may only get an area of nine kabim near one of the corners, as determined by the purchaser, since the other corners were mentioned only for the purpose of clarifying which field was under discussion, but not to serve as a commitment to the sale.

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