For the week ending 30 January 2010 / 14 Shevat 5770

Bava Batra 163 - 169

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Problem of empty space between text of document and signature of witnesses
  • Erasure in text or by signatures
  • Subtle use of the evil tongue
  • When a tied document is written instead of a regular one and vice versa
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  • Deciphering the amount of the loan written in a document in unclear fashion
  • When there is a conflict between amount written on top and one written on bottom
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  • Who pays for the writing of a document
  • Whether an exaggerated commitment is binding
  • Certifying a loan document or a document of sale which became erased
  • Can one party impose on the other the need to guard a receipt

The Happy Buyer

  • Bava Batra 168a

When a field is being sold it is the buyer who must pay the scribe to write the document of sale.

This ruling of the mishna seems superfluous since the responsibility for paying for the writing of a document is always that of the party gaining the greater benefit, as we see in the cases of a divorce document or a loan.

The explanation given by the gemara for stating this rule is that it applies even in a case in which the seller derives a great benefit from getting rid of a field he doesn't want because there is something wrong with it. To dismiss the idea that in such a case the seller should be responsible for paying the scribe, the mishna declares that it is nevertheless the responsibility of the buyer whose benefit is still greater.

Rashi offers two sources for this approach that the buyer is always happier than the seller. One is a passage in the Book of Yechezkel (7:2), which speaks of the buyer rejoicing and the seller mourning. The other source is this folk saying: "If you bought, you gained; if you sold, you lost." (Bava Metzia 51a)

What the Sages Say

"Most people are vulnerable to sinning in money matters, a minority sin in sexual matters and all of them in subtle form of lashon hara (evil speech)."

  • Rabbi Yehuda in the name of the Sage Rav - Bava Batra 165a

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