כ״ה בטבת ה׳תשע״ז (January 23, 2017)

Bava Metzia 119a: Whatever His Hand Can Reach

The Mishna on yesterday’s daf (118b) discusses a situation where two fields were terraced so that one was situated above the other, with vegetation growing out of the side of the terrace. The Mishna records a disagreement between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda, with Rabbi Shimon suggesting a compromise position. According to Rabbi Shimon, all fruit that can be reached by the owner of the top field will belong to him; the rest belongs to the owner of the bottom field.

The Gemara on our daf reports that Efrayim Safra, one of Reish Lakish’s students, quoted Reish Lakish as accepting Rabbi Shimon’s position. When this was shared with Shavor Malka, he praised the good sense of Rabbi Shimon’s ruling.

According to Rashi and other rishonim, our Gemara is referring to the first king Shapur, who continued his father’s success in wars against the Roman Empire, capturing the city of Netzivim and arriving at the border of Syria. In the course of a number of attacks, he not only defeated the Roman emperor Velrinus, but he captured him and held him until his death. With regard to internal matters, he was an open-minded leader, and allowed a good deal of freedom of religion. It appears that he showed an interest in Judaism and was on good terms with the amora Shmuel.

Although we find a number of places in the Talmud where Shmuel is referred to by the nickname Shavor Malka, Rashi rejects the possibility that this is the case here, since it is obvious that Shmuel would have known the Mishna and would have been familiar with Rabbi Shimon’s ruling. Therefore it does not make sense to suggest that he praised Rabbi Shimon after hearing Efrayim Safra quoting Reish Lakish’s ruling.

In his Ye’arot Devash, Rabbi Yonatan Eibeschutz discusses how this teaching could have been shared with Shavor Malka, given the tradition that forbids teaching Torah to non-Jews. He explains that among the Noachide laws that non-Jews are obligated to follow are monetary laws. Thus it is appropriate to teach Noachides property law as interpreted by .

Previous
Next