י״ט בשבט ה׳תשע״ו (January 29, 2016)

Gittin 48a-b: Paying One’s Obligations

The fifth perek of Massekhet Gittinperek ha-nizakin – begins on our daf. There are no discussions of divorce law in this perek; it is a continuation of the previous perek which dealt with cases of rabbinic enactments established mipnei tikkun ha-olam.

The first Mishna in the perek describes how different monetary obligations are paid differently:

  • Nizakin – debts that stem from damage done to someone will be paid in idit – the best land;
  • Ba’al hov – debts whose source is borrowing will be paid in beinonit – middling quality land;
  • Ketubat isha – payment of the ketuba (the obligations stemming from a marriage contract) are paid in ziburit – the lowest quality land.

According to the Gemara’s conclusion, the actual value of the land in each of the above cases will be the same; nevertheless idit – the best land – is preferred by all, even though the size of the land will be larger if payment is made in ziburit. The preference for idit stems from the fact that its quality will make it easier to tend and its harvest will be larger even though the cost and effort put into the land is smaller. This reality leads to the fact that there will be more potential buyers and it will be easier to sell, even though the ziburit has the same value.

These distinctions are only made with regard to the quality of land. If payment is to be made with moveable objects then we consider them meitav – the best – no matter what they are, so long as they are truly worth the amount of the debt. This is true even though the ideal is to pay with money, particularly in the case of a loan where the basic obligation is to return the money that was borrowed.

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