Daf Yomi

For the week ending 20 June 2009 / 27 Sivan 5769

Bava Metzia 58 - 64

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Survival Begins at Home

The Case: Two people are walking along a deserted road and only one of them has a canteen of water. If both drink from this limited amount of water they will both die of thirst before reaching civilization. Should the owner of the water alone drink he alone will survive but his companion will die sooner.
The Problem:
Must they share the water?
The Ruling: It is preferable that they both drink and die together rather than one drink and see his companion die earlier.

The Sage Ben Patura

"Your brother shall live with you" says the Torah, which means that your life comes first.

Rabbi Akiva

(Even Rabbi Akiva, whose opinion is accepted as law, will concede that if the water belongs to both of them they must share it. This is based on the principle of "who says your blood is redder than the other fellow's?" which mandates martyrdom where the only means of survival is another's life. - Maharsha)

  • Bava Metzia 62a

Dyeing for a Living

It is forbidden to dress up an old item in order to pass it off as new to an unwitting buyer, whether the item be human, animal or vessel.

The story is told of an old non-Jew who dyed his gray hair and beard black to appear younger and then tried to sell his services to the Sage Rava. After Rava refused because of the Talmudic counsel to employ needy workers from his own people this fellow succeeded in selling himself to Rabbi Papa ben Shmuel. But no sooner was he asked to bring some water to his new master than this cunning servant rinsed the dye from his hair and beard and chided Rabbi Papa for asking him to do such menial work "when I am older than your father."

Rabbi Papa then cited a passage from King Solomon's "Proverbs" as an appreciation of the cautious wisdom of Rava which saved him from this pitfall.

  • Bava Metzia 60b

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