Elu Metziot shiur #23, 27a
YESHIVAT HAR ETZION
ISRAEL KOSCHITZKY VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH (VBM)
Introduction to the Study of Talmud
By Rav Josh Amaru
Elu Metziot shiur #23, 27a.
Today's shiur includes the vocabulary list for the shiur itself. If you
wish to consult the full cumulative vocabulary list, it is found at
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Key words and phrases are marked in blue, and their translation/explanation can be seen by placing the cursor over them. Other vocabulary words are marked in red and can be found on the vocabulary list at the end of the shiur. Particularly important vocabulary words will be underlined and either have a link to the vocabulary list or a pop-up window that will appear if you place the cursor on them.
Summary of last shiur: Last week we learned the way the gemara, and Rava in particular, extract the halakha from verses in the Torah. The gemara discussed the added value of each one of the exemplary animals mentioned in the verse contribute to the laws of hashavat aveida.
In this week's shiur we will continue interpreting the verses about hashavat aveida. Let us look again at the verses:
1) You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep driven away,
and hide yourself from them; you shall surely return
them to your brother.
דברים פרק כב
(א) לÉא תÄרÀאÆה אÆת
שÑוÉר אÈחÄיךÈ אוÉ אÆת שÒÅיוÉ נÄדÌÈחÄים וÀהÄתÀעÇלÌÇמÀתÌÈ מÅהÆם הÈשÑÅב
The gemara opens with a baraita which records a disagreement regarding a lost object that is nearly worthless; i.e., that is worth less than a peruta. Both opinions agree that there is no obligation to return such an object (more on why this is so later), but disagree as to the scriptural source of this rule. The Tana Kama (anonymous first tana) derives this from the words "was lost from him," while R. Yehuda derives it from the words "you have found." Apparently, in order to be considered a loss or a find, an object must have a minimum value.
The gemara asks, what is the difference between the two positions? Abaye explains that they disagree only about the scriptural source for the derivation, but there is no practical halakhic difference between the Tana Kama and R. Yehuda's position. Remember, that according to the midrashic principle we learned about last week, the Rabbis assumed that there are no redundancies in the Torah's legal passages. One of the tasks of midrash halakha is to account for apparent redundancies. According to Abaye, R. Yehuda and the Tana Kama disagree as to how to explain Devarim 22:3, much of which seems unnecessary:
Given that both "was lost from him" and "and you have found" are redundant, the gemara needs to explain how each side explains the passage it did not use for the derivation of the rule in the mishna. Learn now from "u-leman de-nafka lei... ולמאן דנפקא ליה" until "lo mashma lei לא משמע ליה", lines 4-12 in the schematic analysis.
How does the tana kama, who derives the minimum value rule from "was lost from him," interpret the rest of the verse, "and you have found"? The gemara explains that he follows Ravnai in deriving a different law from "and you have found". Ravnai understands that this passage teaches us "until it comes into his hands." Now what does that mean?
Before we explain Ravnai's statement, notice the little letter (א) in Rashi script next to the word le-khederavnai לכדרבנאי. This letter, as we have explained before, is a marker for Hagahot ha-Bach that appear in the bottom left hand corner of the page. Note that the Bach glosses "Ravina רבינא" instead of "Ravnai רבנאי". The significance of this will be clear in a moment.
Now notice the asterisk (*), after the word "le-khederavnai לכדרבנאי" and before "de-amar דאמר". This is the marker for the Masoret ha-Shas on the inner margin of the page, opposite the asterisk in the text. The Masoret ha-Shas gives us other places in the Talmud in which the same phrase or ruling appear. Here we see the words, .ב"ק קיג: ע"ש לעיל ב , which means that the same phrase appears in Bava Kama 113b and "l'eil לעיל"; i.e., "above" (in our tractate) 2a. With reference to the first place, the Masoret ha-Shas adds " ע"ש = ayen sham עיין שם ," meaning, "look closely there." In order to understand Ravnai's (or Ravina's) statement, let us look in those two places. Afterwards, we will look in Rashi and and see how Rashi makes use of one of the places and not the other.
First look at Bava Kama 113b, 11 rows above where the
wide lines begin, "de-amar Rav Chama...דאמר רב חמא"
until "aveidato asur. אבידתו אסור". The text and translation
appear below if you do not have access either to the web link or an old
תלמוד בבלי מסכת בבא קמא דף קיג עמוד ב דאמר רב חמא בר גורי' אמר רב: מנין לאבידת הכנעני
שהיא מותרת? שנאמר: דברים כ"ב+ לכל אבדת אחיך+, לאחיך אתה מחזיר, ואי אתה
מחזיר לכנעני. ואימא: הני מילי היכא דלא אתי לידיה, דלא מחייב לאהדורי בתרה,
אבל היכא דאתי לידיה אימא ליהדרה! אמר רבינא: +דברים כ"ב+ ומצאתה,
דאתאי לידיה משמע. תניא, ר' פנחס בן יאיר אומר: במקום שיש חילול
השם, אפי' אבידתו אסור.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת בבא קמא דף קיג עמוד ב
דאמר רב חמא בר גורי' אמר רב: מנין לאבידת הכנעני שהיא מותרת? שנאמר: דברים כ"ב+ לכל אבדת אחיך+, לאחיך אתה מחזיר, ואי אתה מחזיר לכנעני. ואימא: הני מילי היכא דלא אתי לידיה, דלא מחייב לאהדורי בתרה, אבל היכא דאתי לידיה אימא ליהדרה! אמר רבינא: +דברים כ"ב+ ומצאתה, דאתאי לידיה משמע. תניא, ר' פנחס בן יאיר אומר: במקום שיש חילול השם, אפי' אבידתו אסור.
The gemara here discusses the source for limiting the mitzva of hashavat aveida to fellow Jews. Rav Chama bar Gurion in the name of Rav teaches us that this limitation is derived from the fact that the verse refers to "every lost thing of your brother's", implying that only one's brother's, i.e. fellow Jew's, lost objects must be returned to him. The gemara seems troubled by this conclusion. Why not return property that belongs to someone else, even if he happens to be a non-Jew? Perhaps when the Torah taught us that we must return "every lost thing of your brother's," that only applies to the requirement to actively pursue a lost object in order to return it. However, when one is already in possession of a lost object, one should have to return it to a non-Jew. Ravina then claims that the verse deliberately addresses this situation as well and includes it in the limitation of the mitzva to fellow Jews. It does this by adding the words "and you have found;" in other words, the rule above, that hashavat aveida applies only to fellow Jews, applies the same way to lost objects that you have already found, including the exclusion of non-Jews. The gemara then rushes to point out that this is the theoretical law, but, as R. Pinchas ben Yair says, when there is a chance of chilul Hashem, of God's name being desecrated through the perceived misbehavior of Jews, one may not take a non-Jew's lost object.
In any case, we see here how Ravina makes use of the words "and you have found". They are required to show that there is no difference between a lost object already in the finder's possession and one he or she is aware of but has not taken. In both cases there is a mitzva of hashavat aveida and that mitzva is limited to the lost objects of fellow Jews, to the exclusion of others. Now let us look in Rashi, s.v. de-ata le-yadei mashm'a דאתא לידיה משמע, back in Bava Metzia 27a (nine lines from the bottom of the Rashi text). Rashi explains the gemara based on Ravina's statement in Bava Kama, as above. The words "and you have found" are included in the verse in order to ensure that the limitation of hashavat aveida to one's fellow Jew encompasses even cases where the lost object is already in one's possession. We can also understand now what motivated the Bach to gloss "Ravina" over "Ravnai". The Bach, following Rashi, understood the gemara, in explaining the need for "and you have found" to be referring to Ravina's statement in Bava Kama. Therefore "Ravnai" must be a mistake and should be corrected to Ravina.
To reiterate: we now see how the Tana Kama interprets both "was lost from him" and "and you have found". The former is the source for the fact that hashavat aveida does not apply to objects worth less than a peruta. The latter is used to exclude non-Jews from all levels of hashavat aveida.
But remember, the Masoret Ha-Shas offered us a different source for "Ravnai's" statement. That source is Bava Metzia 2a. The first mishna in Bava Metzia deals with a case of two people who come before the court, both holding onto a garment. Each side claims, "I found it and it's all mine." The gemara investigates why the mishna describes their claims in such redundant fashion. Why not have them simply claim "I found it?" Is not the additional claim "it's mine" implicit, and hence unnecessary? Let us look there now, five lines down from the beginning of the gemara.
The gemara explains that the mishna added the words "its all mine" to the claims described in order to preclude a possible mistake. One could claim "I found it" upon seeing some lost object. However, such a claim has no legal weight, since the found object does not belong to the finder until it comes into his or her possession. The mishna wants to emphasize that it refers only to competing claims in which finding includes taking possession.
At this point, the gemara introduces Ravnai's statement. How could "I found it" ever be interpreted as "I saw it"? asks the gemara. Did not Ravnai already explain that the words "and you have found it" mean that the lost object must come into the finder's possession! The gemara then goes on to distinguish between the colloquial meaning and the Scriptural meaning of the verb matza מצא, such that the above explanation of the mishna can be maintained.
It appears that we have here a statement of Ravnai's that is distinct from that of Ravina in Bava Kama. In Bava Metzia, the gemara understands Ravnai's comment as implying that one is not defined as a finder until the moment of taking possession. In Bava Kama, the opposite is the case. One's obligation to return a lost object does not depend on possession. On the contrary, Ravina there asserts that the point "and you have found" is to indicate that there is no difference, in terms of hashavat aveida, between finding and seeing. In both cases one is obliged to return the object to a fellow Jew and the object is permitted if it belongs to a non-Jew.
To return to our gemara, which is concerned with the interpretation of the verses relating to hashavat aveida, the understanding of Ravnai as based on the gemara in the beginning of Bava Metzia is a little difficult. According to what we have just learned, the words "and you have found it" were added to the verse not in order to teach us another rule of hashavat aveida but relate rather to a situation in which hashavat aveida does not apply. This does not give rise to a smooth reading of the verse: "And so shall you do with his ass; and so shall you do with his garment; and so shall you do with every lost thing of your brother's, which was lost from him, and you have found; you may not ignore." Until "lost from him," the verse describes the scope of hashavat aveida. The final clause "you may not ignore" also applies to a situation where the finder is obligated to return the lost object. The middle clause, however, refers to a situation in which the finder is not obligated to return it (after yeush). The object becomes his property only once it comes into his possession.
In any case, whether we understand Ravnai's interpretation of u-metzata ומצאתה, "and you have found it" as teaching us that the scope of hashavat aveida is limited to Jews, or whether it comes to teach us that the finder can become the owner only upon taking possession, the Tana Kama, who learns that a lost object must have a minimum value from "was lost from him," uses the additional word u-metzata ומצאתה, to teach us this statement of Ravnai's (or Ravina's).
We have now accounted for both the phrases "was lost to him" and "and you have found" according to the Tana Kama. How does R. Yehuda, who learns the minimal value rule from "and you have found", account for "was lost to him"? The gemara explains that that phrase is reserved to teach a halakha that we have already encountered - that of a lost object that is lost to all. The gemara quotes R. Yochanan in the name of R. Shimon ben Yochai who explains that the additional "asher tovad mimenu אשר תאבד ממנו", "was lost to him," teaches us that hashavat aveida applies only objects specifically "lost to him", i.e. the owner. If, however, it was lost to all; e.g., swept away by the river, then there is no obligation to return it and it is permitted to the finder.
We have thus accounted for all of the phrases in the verse according to each side, by introducing additional halakhot that are extracted from whatever passage is left over. We are left with one difficulty. The additional halakhot, that of Ravnai (or Ravina) and that of R. Yochanan are not controversial. The gemara assumes that both the Tana Kama and R. Yehuda espouse them too. From where does each side derive the law he left out? Specifically, from where does the Tana Kama derive R. Yochanan's rule about "lost to all" and from where does R. Yehuda derive Ravnai's rule about finding meaning possession?
The gemara explains that the R. Yehuda learns Ravnai's rule from "u-metzata ומצאתה". Rashi, s.v. u-metzata ומצאתה explains that the letter "vav", meaning "and," is superfluous and because of this R. Yehuda can essentially use "u-metzata ומצאתה" twice: once to teach us that the lost object must be worth at least a peruta and once to teach us Ravnai's rule that finding implies possession.
The Tana Kama, in turn, extracts R. Yochanan's "lost to all" rule from the fact that the Torah does not merely say "that was lost" but adds "that was lost to him". Rav Yehuda does not regard this addition as significant and therefore needed to allocate the whole phrase to teach R. Yochanan's rule.
We have thus played out the full implications of Abaye's assertion that the only difference between the Tana Kama and R. Yehuda is in how they interpret the verse. Both sides agree about the halakha and disagree as to the appropriate way to derive the halakha from the verses of the Torah.
According to Rava, there is a halakhic difference between the Tana Kama, who learns the minimum value rule from "that was lost to him" and R. Yehuda, who derives it from "and he found it." This difference comes to light when we look at a lost object whose value was once more than a peruta and has subsequently depreciated to be worth less than a peruta. According to the Tana Kama, since the source for this rule is "that was lost to him", the crucial time is the time of its loss. Since it was worth at least a peruta at that time, the finder must return it, even though it is now nearly worthless. According to R. Yehuda, the crucial time is the moment in which it is found. A lost object that was then no longer worth a peruta, even if it had been earlier, need not be returned.
This interpretation incisively points out the difference between the two sources. The verse, however, includes both passages: "which was lost from him, and you have found." According to the Tana Kama, since we understand "which was lost from him" to imply that the object must have a minimum value when it is lost, then "and you have found" should imply that it also have a minimum value when it is found. How then can the Tana Kama hold that an object that has depreciated to less than a peruta must still be returned!
In response to this criticism, the gemara considers an alternative case that shows up the difference between the Tana Kama and R. Yehuda. An article was originally worth less than a peruta and then appreciated. According to the Tana Kama, since it was not worth a peruta at the time of the loss, it need not be returned. According to R. Yehuda, since it was worth a peruta when it is found, it must be returned.
This suggestion, of course, runs into exactly the same problem of before, only inverted. Since the verse includes both passages, it seems that the object must have the value of a peruta both at the time of the loss and when it is found. If so, what is the makhloket between the Tana Kama and R. Yehuda?
The gemara then comes up with a case that points to the difference between the two Tanaim. Both sides do require that the lost object be worth a peruta both when it is lost and when it is found. The difference between them is only when it depreciates while it is lost, only to regain value before it is found. According to the Tana Kama, the finder must return the lost object in such a case. R. Yehuda, however, holds that the object must maintain its minimum value throughout and that if it ever depreciates to less than a peruta it need no longer be returned, even after it has regained its value.
The gemara's discussion of Rava's initial statement seems very odd. At first glance, Rava's original analysis seems perfectly coherent: According to the tana kama, we define the obligation of returning the lost object in terms of the original owner. If he or she did not lose something of value then there is not obligation to return it. R. Yehuda, on the other hand, defines the obligation in terms of the finder. If he or she found something of value, he or she is obliged to return it to its original owner. The gemara rejects this interpretation of Rava's statement on the grounds that since the verse quoted includes "that was lost to him" and "and he found it", then it is clear according to everyone that the object must have value at both the time of the loss and the time of it being found. Why is this point so obvious? Have we not just seen, in our exposition of Abaye's position, the multifarious interpretations that can and are attached to this verse?
It would appear that the gemara has a hidden agenda here. The gemara's unwillingness to take Rava's initial statement at face value does not stem from any logical problem. Rather, the gemara rejects in principle the notion that the mitzva of hashavat aveida can be analyzed as a relation between the object and either the owner or the finder. Hashavat aveida, fundamentally, is not about returning specific objects to one who has lost them but about protecting one's brother's economic interests. If either no significant loss was incurred or there is nothing significant to return, those economic interests are not affected. If we understand hashavat aveida this way, then both the loss and the return of a (practically) worthless object are insignificant and do not incur the obligation of hashavat aveida.
What about R. Yehuda's position according to this understanding? Why does it matter that the object was worthless in the meantime? Why should that absolve one from returning the again valuable object? Perhaps, according to R. Yehuda, once an object depreciates to less than the value of a peruta, then it ceases to have an owner. Ownership is a function of at least minimal value and for this reason one is not liable for theft of an object that is worth less than a peruta. Ordinarily, this fact does not make any difference, since once the object appreciates again, the original owner takes possession. However, a lost object that is not in the possession of the original owner loses its attachment to the original owner upon depreciating to less than the value of a peruta. It cannot revert to his even if it appreciates afterwards, since it is no longer in his possession. For this reason, R. Yehuda requires that the lost object to never have lost at least its minimal value if its finder is to be obligated to return it.
We thus conclude our discussion of the midrash
halakha on the verse: "And so shall you do with his ass; and so shall
you do with his garment; and so shall you do with every lost thing of thy
brother's, which was lost from him, and you have found; you may
not ignore." As we have seen, Abaye and Rava interpret the makhloket
between the Tana Kama in different ways. According to Abaye,
only one section of the verse is used to derive the minimum value rule and
the rest is allocated to teaching other halakhot. According to Rava,
at least in the gemara's conclusion, the whole passage "which was lost from him,
and you have found" teaches us about the requirement that the lost object be a
thing of value.