א׳ באייר ה׳תשע״ז (April 27, 2017)

Bava Batra 95a-b: Selling a Cellar

As we learned on yesterday’s daf it is reasonable for a buyer to anticipate that there will be a certain amount of waste with produce that is purchased. One of the examples that appears in the Mishna (93b) is that ten barrels of slightly sour wine out of every hundred is a reasonable percentage to expect.

The Gemara on our daf examines this ruling and its parameters. According to a baraita brought by the Gemara, if a person agrees to sell a wine cellar, all of the wine must be of good quality. If he agrees to sell a specific wine cellar, then the wine can all be of lower quality – what the Gemara refers to as yayin ha-nimkar be-ḥanut – wine that is sold in stores. If he agrees to sell a cellar, without specifying that it was a wine cellar, then whatever was there is what was sold.

Yayin ha-nimkar be-ḥanut refers to low quality wine. When the vintner realizes that his wine is beginning to turn, he needs to sell it quickly before it becomes vinegar. The simplest way of doing this was by selling it to a storekeeper who would sell it to people passing in the street who were not ordinarily as careful about the quality of the wine that they drank as were people who purchased wine by the barrel. The continuation of the Gemara refers to this as wine that smells like vinegar but tastes like wine.

The explanations for the differences are clear. An agreement to purchase a wine cellar indicates an interest in buying what is considered wine on every level. Once the agreement specified wine that was in the cellar, as long as it could still be considered wine, the agreement is fulfilled. If the word “wine” is not mentioned in the agreement at all, then any contents of the cellar will suffice, even if the wine had all turned to vinegar.

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