Exodus 12:3 again clearly implies that one person performs an action on behalf of others—this time it refers to setting aside the pesach sacrifice. But again, this might not be sufficient to prove agency in cases where the agent is not part of the mitzvah.
The Talmud now resolves the problem by pointing out that we have two verses that teach the same thing. Since we don’t need to learn this twice, we can apply this teaching to a case where it does not belong, meaning an agent who does not have a partnership in the sacrifice.
The Talmud argues that that verse is needed for another purpose—for R. Yitzchak’s derashah that an adult can acquire, in this case the sheep, on behalf of others but that a minor does not have such legal ability. If the verse is needed for that derashah, it is not available to teach agency.
The Talmud locates another use of the word “man” in the same context. This frees up the earlier verse.
The word “man” in this last verse (Exodus 12:4) is needed for another derashah—that the pesah may be slaughtered even if only one person is going to eat it.
This is resolved by reference to a dispute—Rabbi Yonatan, who learns agency from the second verse, would hold that the pesah may not be slaughtered for an individual. This frees up the earlier verse to derive agency even when the agent is not participating in the mitzvah.
Today’s section continues to discuss the source for a person’s legal ability to appoint an agent.
Rav derives the institution of agency from another verse—the verse where each prince is designated to allocate the land to the members of the tribe. But why doesn’t he derive agency from the verse about slaughtering the pesah, or any of the other verses used above (such as the verse about designating terumah).
The Talmud questions whether agency can explain how the princes allocated the land. After all, they had to allocate portions to minors and minors cannot appoint agents. Thus this source does not seem to be a valid source of agency. The right of the princes to allocate the land must be understood in another way.
The Talmud now offers another version of Rav’s statement, which derives a different principle from the allocation of the land—one can confer benefit on another person even in his absence.
The problem with deriving this principle is that in order to confer a benefit on someone without their presence what is being conferred needs to be a complete benefit without any disadvantage. It cannot have some aspects that are beneficial and some that are not. While every person does benefit from inheriting the land, people have different preferences as to which land one inherits. Thus the princes were in some sense disadvantaging those who inherited land.
Finally we learn a different principle from the verse about the allocation of the land. When a court allocates a father’s estate for his minor children inheriting from him, the court can appoint a guardian on their behalf, even if there is a temporary disadvantage that will eventually lead to an advantage. This is essentially what Moses does in appointing the prines to allocate the land.
This brings this part of the discussion to the conclusion. We cannot use this verse to derive agency, but we have properly understood what principle is derived from this verse.
Having mentioned the topic of orphans that divide their father’s property, the Talmud now dives deeper into the subject.
All rabbis agree that the guardian can choose which part of the inheritance the orphan receives. The argument is over whether the orphan can protest against the choice once the child reaches majority age. Shmuel says that he may, while R. Nahman says that he may not.
In another source, R. Nahman does not seem to worry about the authority of the court in making evaluations. This source deals with a court that evaluates property to be sold. According to R. Shimon b. Gamaliel, even if the court’s assessment deviates by 1/6, which is the standard level of accepted deviation, the sale is valid. In other words, the court’s authority is greater than that of an individual. However, R. Nahman rules with the sages, who say the court has the same authority as an individual. This seems to contradict his view in our case.
In the case of the orphans, the judges did not err. Therefore, the guardian’s allotment of the property cannot be undone. But in the case of the court, the court made a mistake.