Bava Batra 171aבבא בתרא קע״א א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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171aקע״א א

בשלמא בי דינא אלימי לאפקועי ממונא אלא עדים שעשו שליחותן חוזרין ועושין שליחותן

Granted, a court can write a new document, because the court has the power to confiscate money. A creditor has the right to seize any property that the debtor had owned on the day the promissory note was written, even if that property was subsequently sold to others; the earlier the date on the note, the more properties it applies to. By dating the new document on the date of the original document the creditor is once again given the right to seize properties from those who had purchased land from the debtor in between the date of the original loan and the date the new promissory note is actually written. The court has such confiscatory power. But with regard to witnesses, who already performed their agency, i.e., fulfilled their assigned role, the first time they wrote the promissory note, can they return and perform their agency again by writing a second promissory note?

ולא והא אמר רב יהודה אמר רב עדים כותבין אפילו עשרה שטרות על שדה אחת

The Gemara asks: And is it so that witnesses are not empowered to do so? But doesn’t Rav Yehuda say that Rav says: Witnesses who were commissioned to write a deed for the transfer of property may write even ten deeds for one field? If the original deed is lost or destroyed, the witnesses may write a replacement deed for the purchaser, even if the deed is lost many times.

רב יוסף אמר בשטר מתנה

Rav Yosef says an answer to this question: Rav Yehuda’s statement was concerning a deed of gift, not a bill of sale. A gift of land has no guarantee; if it is repossessed from the recipient by the giver’s creditor to repay the giver’s debt, the recipient has no recourse and cannot collect any money from anyone. Therefore, in this case no one is jeopardized by the writing of many replacement deeds, which are intended only to serve as a proof that the recipient is actually entitled to the land.

ורבה אמר בשטר שאין בו אחריות

And Rabba says: It is possible to say that Rav Yehuda’s statement applied even with regard to a bill of sale that does not have a guarantee in it. In that case as well, there is no potential loss to any purchasers of land. By contrast, in the case of a promissory note, which can be used to repossess property from those who have purchased land from the debtor, witnesses do not have the authority to predate a document and thereby subject more purchasers to possible land seizures due to the predating of the document.

מאי ברייתא דתניא הרי שהיו נושין בו אלף זוז ופרע מהן חמש מאות זוז עדים מקרעין את השטר וכותבין לו שטר אחר מזמן ראשון דברי רבי יהודה רבי יוסי אומר שטר זה יהא מונח במקומו ויכתבו שובר

The Gemara cited an excerpt from a baraita earlier. It now cites it in full: What is the full text of the baraita? As it is taught: If one thousand dinars are owed by a debtor, and the debt is recorded in a promissory note, and the debtor repaid five hundred dinars out of the total, the witnesses tear the original promissory note and write another promissory note for him, dated from the time of the first note. This is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda. Rabbi Yosei says: This original promissory note shall remain in its place, in the custody of the creditor, and witnesses write a receipt for the five hundred dinars that were repaid. This receipt is given to the debtor to protect himself against a possible attempt by the creditor to use the promissory note to collect the entire one thousand dinars.

ומפני שני דברים אמרו כותבין שובר אחת כדי שיכוף לפורעו ואחת כדי שיגבה מזמן ראשון

Rabbi Yosei continues: And there are two reasons why the Sages said that they write a receipt, as opposed to writing a new promissory note: One reason is so that the creditor can coerce the debtor to repay him, i.e., the psychological pressure for the debtor of knowing that the creditor has a promissory note with a larger amount listed than what he owes him will induce the debtor to repay the remainder promptly. And the other one is so that he, the creditor, should be able to collect liened property from the first date, that of the original document.

והא רבי יהודה נמי מזמן ראשון קאמר הכי קאמר ליה ר' יוסי לרבי יהודה אי מזמן ראשון קאמרת פליגנא עלך בחדא אי מזמן שני קאמרת פליגנא עלך בתרתי

The Gemara asks with regard to Rabbi Yosei’s second reason: But doesn’t Rabbi Yehuda also say that the new document must be dated from the time of the first document? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yosei did not hear a full explanation of Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion; he heard only that Rabbi Yehuda prescribed writing a new promissory note recording the new balance. And this is what Rabbi Yosei is saying to Rabbi Yehuda: If you mean to say that the new promissory note is dated from the time of the first document, I disagree with you on one count, as I hold a receipt should be written to pressure the debtor. If you mean to say that the second promissory note is dated from the second date, i.e., from when the second promissory note was written, I disagree with you on two counts.

תנו רבנן שטר שזמנו כתוב בשבת או בעשרה בתשרי שטר מאוחר הוא וכשר דברי ר' יהודה רבי יוסי פוסל אמר לו רבי יהודה והלא מעשה בא לפניך בצפורי והכשרת אמר לו כשהכשרתי בזה הכשרתי

§ The Gemara discusses a related halakha. The Sages taught in a baraita (Tosefta, Makkot 1:3): If there is a promissory note whose date is written as a Shabbat or as the tenth of Tishrei, i.e., Yom Kippur, it is assumed to be a postdated promissory note, as writing is forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Kippur, and it is therefore valid. This is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda. Rabbi Yosei deems the promissory note invalid. Rabbi Yehuda said to Rabbi Yosei: But didn’t such an incident come before you in Tzippori, and you yourself deemed the promissory note valid? Rabbi Yosei said to him: When I deemed the promissory note valid, it was in a case like this, where the date was a Shabbat or Yom Kippur, that I deemed it valid.

והא רבי יהודה נמי בזה קאמר

The Gemara is puzzled by Rabbi Yosei’s response at the end of the baraita: But Rabbi Yehuda was also speaking in a case like this, where the date was a Shabbat or Yom Kippur, and yet Rabbi Yosei’s opinion was that the promissory note is invalid.

אמר רבי פדת הכל מודים שאם הוזקקנו לעונתו של שטר ונמצאת עונתו מכוונת בשבת או בעשרה בתשרי ששטר מאוחר הוא וכשר

Rabbi Pedat says: All parties to this dispute agree that if we engaged in an investigation of the date of the document, and its date was found to be exactly on Shabbat or on the tenth of Tishrei, that it is self-evident that it is a postdated promissory note and is valid.