BAVA BASRA 151 (28 Sivan) - dedicated to the memory of Hagaon Rav Yisroel Zev (ben Rav Avrohom Tzvi) Gustman, ZT'L, Rosh Yeshiva of "Yeshivas Netzach Yisrael-Ramailes" (in Vilna, Brooklyn, and then Yerushalayim), author of Kuntresei Shi'urim, and renowned Dayan in pre-war and post-war Vilna, on the day of his Yahrzeit. Dedicated by Harav Eliezer Stern of Brooklyn NY, and Michoel Starr of Yerushalayim, who merited to learn from Rav Gustman in Yerushalayim.

1)SELLING A SEFER TORAH OR SEFORIM

(a)Gemara

1.Question: Is a Sefer Torah called 'property'?

i.Since one may not sell it, it is not called 'property'. Or, since one may sell it to learn Torah or marry a wife, it is called 'property.'

2.Megilah 26a (Rava): If the seven Tuvei ha'Ir (overseers of the city) sold a Beis ha'Keneses in the presence of the residents, the money may be used for anything, even to buy beer to drink!

3.27a - Question: May one sell an old Sefer Torah to buy a new one?

4.Answer #1: R. Yochanan permits to sell a Sefer Torah only to learn Torah or to marry a woman. (Here also, one may sell Torah for Torah!)

5.Rejection: Perhaps one may sell for Talmud Torah or to get married because learning brings to fulfilling Mitzvos, and "(the world) was created to be settled (with people)", but one may not sell to buy a Sefer Torah.

6.Answer #2: Rabah bar bar Chanah forbids to sell an old Sefer Torah to buy a new one.

7.Rejection: There, the concern is lest he neglect to buy a new one. Our question is when the new one is ready (he needs only to give the money).

8.(Beraisa): One may not sell a Sefer Torah even if he doesn't need it;

9.R. Shimon ben Gamliel says, even if one lacks what to eat and sells a Sefer Torah, he will see no Berachah from the money!

(b)Rishonim

1.Rambam (Hilchos Sefer Torah 10:2): One may not sell a Sefer Torah, even if he does not have what to eat and he has many Seforim. One may not even sell an old Sefer to buy a new one. The only Heterim to sell it are to learn Torah or marry a wife, if he has nothing else to sell.

2.Rosh (Megilah 4:1): If an individual sold his Sefer Torah, he may use the money, for he sells it according to his will. It is as if the seven Tuvei ha'Ir sold it in the presence of the residents. Rashi explains that in such a case, the money may be used for anything, and what they sold may be used for anything.

3.Rosh (Hilchos Sefer Torah 1): The Mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah is in order to learn from it. Previously, they learned from a Sefer Torah. Nowadays we leave it in the Beis ha'Keneses for the Tzibur to read. Nowadays it is a Mitzvah for every Yisrael to write Chumashim, Mishnah, Gemara and their explanations. Therefore, one may sell them only to learn Torah or get married.

(c)Poskim

1.Shulchan Aruch (YD 270:1): One may not sell a Sefer Torah, even if he has many Sifrei Torah (Rema - and he barely has what to eat). He may not even sell an old Sefer to buy a new one. He may sell it to learn Torah or marry a wife, if he has nothing else to sell.

i.Beis Yosef (DH u'Mah she'Chosav Afilu): Since R. Shimon ben Gamliel says that he will see no Berachah from the money, this implies that it is forbidden. Hagahos Maimoniyos (10:3) asked, if one may sell it to learn Torah or marry a wife, all the more so he may sell it if needed for food! Also the Yerushalmi permits.

ii.Taz (2): In Pesachim (60), we say that 'he will see no Berachah from it' even about something permitted! Here it is forbidden, for the first Tana forbids, and R. Shimon ben Gamliel came to add.

iii.Beis Yosef (DH u'Mah she'Chosav Afilu): The Ran (Megilah 7b) says 'the Gemara never settled whether one may sell a Sefer Torah to buy another. My Rebbeyim, the Rif are the Rambam are stringent.' R. Mano'ach says that the concern is negligence, so if the new one is ready in the Sofer's house and he merely needs to pay for it, he may sell.

iv.Bach (DH u'Mah she'Chosav Afilu and Taz 3): The Gemara never settled this question! R. Mano'ach learned from the Rif, who did not bring this question. Surely he is lenient, for it is a Safek mid'Rabanan. This is unlike the Ran, who says that the Rif is stringent. The Rif, Rambam, Rosh, Ran and Tur are stringent. We follow them. The primary reason is because we do not increase the Kedushah (not due to concern for negligence).

v.Beis Yosef (DH u'Mah she'Chosav v'Ein): R. Mano'ach permits a Tzibur to sell a Torah if they must support an orphan. This is only if they are poor and have nothing else they could sell. He says that the Isur applies only to a Sefer Torah from which the Tzibur reads. An individual may sell his Sefer for any purpose, for he wrote or bought it with this intent. Also, selling it does not lower its Kedushah. He discusses scribes or merchants, but if one wrote a Sefer Torah for himself, he may sell it only to learn or marry. The Gemara uses the singular (one may not sell a Sefer Torah even if he doesn't need it). However, the Tur (OC 153) permits one to sell his Sefer and use the money for for anything. Some say that this is like the Rosh, who says that nowadays there is no Mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah, but according to the Gemara it is forbidden. I disagree. The Rosh agrees that nowadays there is a Mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah. Also the Mordechai (Megilah 824, citing Avi ha'Ezri) permits one to sell his Sefer Torah, just he will not see Berachah from this. The Rosh (Megilah 4:1) agrees. He says that one who sells his Sefer Torah is like the seven Tuvei ha'Ir selling in the presence of the residents.

2.Rema: Likewise, one may sell it to redeem captives.

i.Gra (2): Tosfos (Bava Basra 8b DH Pidyon) says that there was no need to teach this, for it is obvious.

3.Shulchan Aruch (2): Nowadays it is a Mitzvah to write Chumashim, Mishnah, Gemara and their explanation, and he may sell them only to learn Torah or get married.

i.Beis Yosef (DH v'Chosav): The Rosh only adds a Mitzvah for us to write these other Seforim, and an Isur to sell them.

ii.Rebuttal (Prishah 2 and Drishah 4): The Rosh says that since nowadays there is (only) a Mitzvah to write them. He did not say that it is also a Mitzvah to write them! In CM 93, the Tur cites Ri Bartzeloni, who forces a borrower to sell his Seforim, even a Sefer Torah. The Tur did not comment (that nowadays, the Rosh gives precedence to other Seforim), for that is not the primary place for this law. Alternatively, regarding paying a debt it is a bigger Chidush that one must sell his Sefer Torah.

iii.Taz (4 and Gra 4): The Beis Yosef's Perush is primary. The Magid Mishneh agrees.

iv.Beis Yosef (CM 248): Even though the Tur cited the Rosh, who says that nowadays one may sell Mishnah, Gemara... only to learn or marry, surely they are not as stringent as a Sefer Torah. People often sell them. The Tur himself (in this Siman) cites the Ramah, that if one gave 'my property', it is unresolved whether a Sefer Torah is included, but surely other Seforim are included.

4.Shulchan Aruch (OC 153:10): Some say that an individual may sell his own Sefer Torah and do with the money as he desires, if he did not Makdish it for the Rabim to read from.

i.Beis Yosef (DH uva'Meh): The Rosh permits one who sold his Sefer Torah to use the money. If he sold it to learn Torah or marry, this is obvious! If he sold it for another purpose, why did we learn that one may sell only to learn or marry? If he transgressed and sold, we cannot compare this to our Mishnah, in which one may sell it! The Mordechai (Megilah 824, citing Avi ha'Ezri) permits an individual to sell his Sefer Torah, just he will not see Berachah from this. One may sell a Sefer Torah designated for the Rabim only to learn Torah or marry. The Nimukei Yosef says so in the name of R. Meshulam, and Orchos Chayim says in the name of Ba'al ha'Hashlamah.

ii.Beis Yosef (DH Kosav Rivash, citing Rivash 285): The Rosh does not permit the seven Tuvei ha'Ir to sell even a Sefer Torah of villagers in their presence. He holds that the seven Tuvei ha'Ir may sell only a Beis ha'Keneses. It seems that the Rambam agrees. We never settled whether one may sell a Kedushah to buy something else of the same Kedushah; we are stringent, even through the seven Tuvei ha'Ir. They are no stronger than an individual over his own. An individual cannot sell it for a lower Kedushah.

iii.Taz (10): If one bought it in order to sell it, and all the more so if he received it for a debt, he may sell it. If not, a Sofer could not sell a Sefer Torah! In both cases, he never intended to keep it.

iv.Kaf ha'Chayim (90): The Pri Megadim says that all permit one who inherited a Sefer Torah to sell it, like one who collected it for a debt. I say that if when he inherited it he intended to keep it, he is like his father, and the latter opinion forbids selling it. However, if the father gave it to the Beis ha'Keneses, he lost his rights to it and also his son cannot sell it.

v.Mishnah Berurah (60): This opinion agrees that he will not see Berachah from the money.

vi.Mishnah Berurah (61): The Magen Avraham holds that if one gave a Sefer Torah (even if he was not Makdish it) for the Rabim to read from, he may not sell it. Why are people lenient today? Perhaps it is as if they stipulated that it will not get Kedushah of the Rabim.

vii.Kaf ha'Chayim (89): Nowadays, no one who gives a Sefer Torah to a Beis ha'Keneses sells it later, so one must be stringent. Ginas Veradim says that we are lenient, for we assume that it is Pasul. Acharonim disagree, for we consider Seforim to be Kesherim and we bless on them.

5.Shulchan Aruch (ibid): Some permit only to learn Torah or marry.

i.Mishnah Berurah (62): This opinion holds that also the seven Tuvei ha'Ir may sell only for Talmud Torah. They buy another Sefer Torah with the money. The Levush permits them to use the money for anything.

ii.Kaf ha'Chayim (88): The first opinion permits, just like the seven Tuvei ha'Ir may sell in a village. The latter forbids, for even the seven Tuvei ha'Ir may sell only a Beis ha'Keneses, but not a Sefer Torah. The Shulchan Aruch favors the stringent opinion. We hold like this.

iii.Mishnah Berurah (63): The Pri Megadim permits so that one can support himself liberally. He was unsure if one may sell a Sefer Torah for Gemara, Poskim and Meforshim, for one cannot learn without them.

iv.Kaf ha'Chayim (95): All permit one to sell other Seforim.

v.Kaf ha'Chayim (98): One may sell even to enable others to learn.

See also:

THE MITZVAH TO WRITE A SEFER TORAH (Menachos 30)

OTHER D.A.F. RESOURCES ON THIS DAF