Bava Metzia 16b:2בבא מציעא ט״ז ב:ב
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16bט״ז ב

משום כדי חייו

the Sages instituted an ordinance that the sale is effective because of their concern for his immediate livelihood.

אמר רב הונא אמר רב האומר לחברו שדה שאני לוקח לכשאקחנה קנויה לך מעכשיו קנה

§ The Gemara continues to discuss the matter of selling property that one does not yet own. Rav Huna says that Rav says: With regard to one who says to another: With regard to the field that I am about to buy, when I buy it, it will be retroactively transferred to your ownership from now, the stipulation takes effect, and once he buys it, the second party has acquired the field.

אמר רבא מסתברא מלתא דרב בשדה סתם אבל בשדה זו לא מי יימר דמזבין לה ניהליה

Rava said: The statement of Rav is reasonable only with regard to an unspecified field, as one is capable of buying a field. But with regard to a case where one says to another that he is selling him this specific field that is not yet in his possession, the transaction does not take effect, as who is to say that the current owner will sell it to him? Since it is not in his power alone to purchase the field, it is tantamount to an entity that has not yet come into being, and therefore he cannot sell it to anyone.

והאלהים אמר רב אפי' בשדה זו מכדי רב כמאן אמרה לשמעתי' כר"מ דאמר אדם מקנה דבר שלא בא לעולם

The Gemara emphatically rejects Rava’s qualification of Rav’s statement in the form of an oath: By God! Rav said his statement even in a case where the seller said: This field. After all, in accordance with whose opinion did Rav state his halakha? It was in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Meir, who says that a person can transfer ownership of an entity that has not yet come into the world.

דתניא האומר לאשה התקדשי לי לאחר שאתגייר לאחר שתתגיירי (קידושין סו ב) לאחר שאשתחרר לאחר שתשתחררי לאחר שימות בעליך לאחר שיחלוץ לך יבמיך (דברים כה, ה) לאחר שתמות אחותיך (ויקרא יח, יח) אינה מקודשת

As it is taught in a baraita: With regard to one who says to a woman: Be betrothed to me after I convert, or: After you convert, or if he is a slave and says: After I am freed, or if she is a maidservant and he says: After you are freed, or if he says to a married woman: After your husband dies, or if he says to a widow waiting for her yavam to perform the ritual through which he frees her from her levirate bonds [ḥalitza]: After your yavam performs ḥalitza with you, or if he says to his wife’s sister: After your sister dies (see Leviticus 18:18), in all these cases she is not betrothed. Since he cannot betroth her at the present moment, his attempt at betrothal is ineffective.

ר"מ אומר מקודשת

Rabbi Meir says: She is betrothed. Rabbi Meir holds that one can acquire that which is not yet available, and the acquisition will take effect once the item is available. In this case as well, the betrothal will take effect once it becomes possible for her to become betrothed to him.

והא אשה כשדה זו דמיא וא"ר מאיר מקודשת:

And isn’t the case of betrothing a specific woman comparable to the case of selling this specific field? And yet, Rabbi Meir says that she is betrothed. It is therefore clear that Rav, who accepts the opinion of Rabbi Meir, holds that the sale is effective even if the seller specified a particular field.

אמר שמואל המוצא שטר הקנאה בשוק יחזירו לבעלים דאי משום דכתב ללות ולא לוה הא שעבד נפשיה ואי משום פרעון לא חיישינן לפרעון דאם איתא דפרעיה מקרע הוה קרע ליה

§ Shmuel says: With regard to one who finds a deed of transfer, i.e., a promissory note that establishes a lien on the debtor’s property from the date it is written, regardless of whether or not he borrows the money at that time, in the marketplace, he must return it to its owner, i.e., the creditor, as, if one were to be concerned because of the possibility that the debtor wrote the note intending to borrow money, but did not borrow it in the end, he is nevertheless liable, since he committed himself to pay at the time it was written. And if one were to be concerned because of the possibility that repayment had already taken place, this is not a justified concern, as in general we are not concerned that there was repayment, as, if it were so that the debtor had repaid it, he certainly would have torn up the note.

אמר רב נחמן אבא מן ספרי דייני דמר שמואל הוה והוינא כבר שיתא כבר שבע ודכרנא דהוו מכרזי ואמרי הני שטרי אקנייתא דמשתכחי בשוקא נהדרינהו למרייהו

Rav Naḥman said: My father was one of the scribes of the judges of Mar Shmuel, and I was about six or seven years old, and I remember that they made an announcement, saying: Those deeds of transfer that are found in the marketplace should be returned to their owners, the creditors, in accordance with the opinion of Shmuel.

אמר רב עמרם אף אנן תנינא כל מעשה בית דין הרי זה יחזיר אלמא לא חיישינן לפירעון א"ל רבי זירא מתניתין בשטרי חלטאתא ואדרכתא דלאו בני פרעון נינהו

Rav Amram said: We, too, learn similarly in a mishna (20a): One must return any court enactment, i.e., a promissory note that has been authenticated by the court, to its owner. Apparently, we are not concerned that there may have been repayment. Rabbi Zeira said to him: The mishna is not proof for Shmuel’s ruling, as it is stated not with regard to all court enactments but with regard to bills of foreclosure, which award property to a creditor as payment for the debt owed to him, and bills of authorization to locate and seize property from the debtor, both of which are not subject to repayment.

אמר רבא והני לאו בני פרעון נינהו והא אמרי נהרדעי שומא הדר עד תריסר ירחי שתא ואמר אמימר אנא מנהרדעא אנא וסבירא לי דשומא הדר לעולם

Rava said to him: And are these bills not subject to repayment? But didn’t the Sages of Neharde’a say that after property is repossessed in order to pay an unpaid debt based on the court’s appraisal of its value, the property is returned if the debtor pays the debt until twelve months of the year have passed after the repossession? And furthermore, Ameimar said: I am from Neharde’a, and nevertheless, I hold that property repossessed based on an appraisal of an article’s value can always be returned. If the debtor pays his debt, he can reclaim his property at any point. Consequently, even bills of foreclosure or authorization might be obsolete, and nevertheless the mishna states that one who finds them must return them to the creditor.

אלא אמר רבא התם היינו טעמא דאמרי איהו הוא דאפסיד אנפשיה דבעידנא דפרעיה אבעי ליה למקרעיה לשטריה א"נ למכתב שטרא אחרינא עילויה

Rather, Rava said that the mishna is not proof for the ruling of Shmuel for a different reason: There, this is the reason that the documents are returned: As I can say that if the debtor has already repaid his debt, it is he who caused the loss to himself, as at the time he repaid his debt he should have either ripped up the document, or alternatively, he should have demanded of the creditor to write another document for the debtor’s redeemed property, returning it to him.

דמדינא ארעא לא בעיא למיהדר ומשום (דברים ו, יח) ועשית הישר והטוב בעיני ה' הוא דאמור רבנן תהדר הלכך מרישא הוא דקא זבין איבעי ליה למכתב שטר זביני

The reason for a new document to be written is that according to the letter of the law, the land need not be returned by the creditor to the debtor, and it is due to the principle: “You shall do that which is right and good in the eyes of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:18), that the Sages said that the land should be returned. Therefore, it is as though the debtor is purchasing it anew, and the creditor must write a bill of sale.

גבי שטר חוב מאי איכא למימר אם איתא דפרעיה איבעי ליה למיקרעיה לשטריה אימור אשתמוטי קא משתמיט ליה דא"ל למחר יהבנא לך דהשתא ליתיה גבאי אי נמי אפשיטי דספרא זייר ליה:

The Gemara explains why this reasoning is not applicable to deeds of transfer or other promissory notes. With regard to a found promissory note, what is there to say to justify returning it to the creditor? That if it is so that the debtor repaid the debt, he should have ripped up the promissory note? This is not so, as one could say that the creditor avoided returning the note, as he said to him: Tomorrow I will give you the note, as it is not with me now. Alternatively, the creditor may have held back the note as security for the debtor’s payment of the fee of the scribe who wrote the promissory note. Consequently, it is possible that the debtor was never given back the note and was unable to rip it up, through no fault of his own.

א"ר אבהו א"ר יוחנן המוצא שטר חוב בשוק אע"פ שכתוב בו הנפק לא יחזירו לבעלים

§ Rabbi Abbahu says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: With regard to one who finds a promissory note in the marketplace, even if a ratification of the court is written in it, he may not return it to the owner, i.e., the creditor.

לא מיבעיא היכא דלא כתוב בו הנפק דאיכא למימר כתב ללות ולא לוה אלא אפי' כתוב בו הנפק ומאי ניהו דמקוים לא יחזיר דחיישינן לפרעון

The Gemara explains: It is not necessary to say that one should not return the promissory note in a case where a ratification is not written in it, as in that case there is room to say that the debtor wrote it intending to borrow money, but he did not end up borrowing it, and therefore the creditor has no rights to the promissory note. But even if a ratification is written in it, one should not return it. And what is this authorization? It is an approval that the promissory note has been ratified by the court, which examined the note and the signatures of the witnesses and found everything to be in order. The reason one may not return the promissory note to the creditor is that we are concerned that repayment has already taken place.

איתיביה רבי ירמיה לר' אבהו כל מעשה ב"ד הרי זה יחזיר א"ל ירמיה ברי לא כל מעשה ב"ד שוים אלא כגון שהוחזק כפרן

Rabbi Yirmeya raised an objection to Rabbi Abbahu from the mishna that states (20a): One must return any court enactment, i.e., a promissory note that has been authenticated by the court, to its owner. Apparently there is no concern about repayment. Rabbi Abbahu said to him: Yirmeya, my son, not all court enactments are equal. Rather, the ruling that one must return such a document applies only in a case where the debtor has the presumptive status of one who denies his debts, and therefore, if he claims the debt was repaid, his claim is not accepted.

אמר רבא ומשום דהוחזק כפרן חדא זמנא תו לא פרע כלל אלא אמר רבא מתניתין בשטר חלטאתא ואדרכתא וכדרבי זירא

In response to this explanation of that mishna, Rava said: But does it necessarily follow that just because a debtor assumed the presumptive status of one who denies his debts after one time that he did so, he will never again repay a debt that he owes, and therefore the promissory note should be returned to his creditor? Rather, Rava said: The mishna is referring to a bill of foreclosure, or a bill of authorization, which are not subject to repayment, in accordance with the explanation of Rabbi Zeira.

וכפרן הואיל ואתא לידן נימא ביה מלתא דאמר רב יוסף בר מניומי אמר רב נחמן אמרו לו צא תן לו

The Gemara adds: And with regard to the topic of one who denies his debts, since it came to us, let us say something about it. As Rav Yosef bar Minyumi said that Rav Naḥman said: If the court said to the litigant against whom they ruled: Go and give the other litigant what you owe him,