For the week ending 1 April 2017 / 5 Nisan 5777

Bava Basra 67 - 71

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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The Mind of the Kind

The Case: Reuven made a deathbed gift of a house to Shimon. He described this house as being large enough to contain 100 barrels. When the executors of his will measured the house they found that it was large enough to contain 120 barrels.
The Question: Do we award Shimon the entire house or only that portion (5/6) of it which is the area required for 100 barrels?
TheRuling: Rabbi Ashi argued in favor of giving Shimon only the area required for 100 barrels. But he was overruled by the Sage Mar Zutra on the basis of a law found in the Mishnah. When one sells a field the purchaser does not acquire items such as a cistern or aviary which are installed in the field but are not an integral part of it. When he presents a field as a gift, however, even these items are included because we assume that one who gives something away does so in a generous spirit and intends to include them as well. In similar fashion, he concludes, we assume that Reuven intended to give Shimon the entire house but was unaware of its exact measurements and only mentioned the figure of 100 barrels to stress that he was giving a major gift.
  • Bava Basra 71a

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