BAVA BASRA 2-8 - Two weeks of study material have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham Fawer to honor the Yahrzeit of her father, Rav Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Rabbi Morton Weiner) Z'L, who passed away on 18 Teves 5760. May the merit of supporting and advancing Dafyomi study -- which was so important to Rav Weiner -- during the weeks of his Yahrzeit serve as an Iluy for his Neshamah.

1) AGADAH: THE EYE OF THE WORLD

QUESTION: The Gemara relates that when Hurdus sought advice from Bava ben Buta about how he might be able to do Teshuvah for killing the Chachamim of that generation, Bava ben Buta told him, "You extinguished the light of the world (Torah) and blinded the eye of the world (the Chachamim). Therefore, you must do a Mitzvah with that which brings light into the world and which is the eye of the world (the Beis ha'Mikdash)."

Why is the Beis ha'Mikdash referred to as "light" and as an "eye"?

ANSWERS:

(a) A number of sources teach that light radiated forth from the Beis ha'Mikdash to the entire world. The Midrash says that the reason why the windows of the Beis ha'Mikdash were wider on the outside than on the inside was in order for the light to go from inside the Beis ha'Mikdash and spread forth into the world, instead of light going from outside into the Beis ha'Mikdash.

TOSFOS in Shabbos (22b, DH v'Chi) writes that despite the draping over the Mishkan which prevented light from the outside from coming in, the Kohanim did not need to bring any candle or lamp into the Mishkan since it was illuminated by the radiance of the Shechinah.

RABEINU BACHYE (in KAD HA'KEMACH) writes that the presence of light indicates the Divine Presence, just as the presence of candles in the king's chambers give honor to the king.

Light also symbolizes the wisdom of Hash-m as expressed in the Torah, and the attribute of having the proper worldview. When people came to the Beis ha'Mikdash, they were overcome with a love of Hash-m's ways and a desire to follow those ways, as Tosfos in Bava Metzia (21a, DH Ki) quotes from a Midrash.

The Beis ha'Mikdash is referred to as an "eye" as well since the eye is the part of the body that is able to perceive light and to transmit what it sees to the rest of the body. Likewise, the Beis ha'Mikdash is the place which is able to receive the light of Hash-m and spread it to the entire world. (From the perspective of what the Beis ha'Mikdash provides to the world, it is called "light." From the perspective of what it receives from Above, it is called "eye.")

(b) The Chachamim allude to the same theme when they teach that Olam ha'Zeh is compared to night, and Olam ha'Ba is compared to day (Bava Metzia 83b, Pesachim 2a). In Olam ha'Zeh, the presence of Hash-m is veiled, and thus this world is compared to nighttime, during which there is an absence of light. In Olam ha'Ba, Hash-m will reveal His presence, and thus Olam ha'Ba is compared to the brightness of day (see Avodah Zarah 3a).

The Chachamim allude to this further when they expound the verse, "Hash-m called the light 'day' and He called the darkness 'night'" (Bereishis 1:5). The verse does not mention the Name of Hash-m with regard to night because Hash-m does not place His name with something associated with evil (Tosfos to Ta'anis 3a, DH v'Ilu). The Midrash does not mean that night is evil, but that darkness represents the lack of clarity in man's perception of Hash-m's presence in the world.

(c) Based on this understanding, RAV YITZCHAK HUTNER zt'l explains the choice of words in the Mishnah at the beginning of Pesachim. The Mishnah there refers to the night of the fourteenth of Nisan (the night of Bedikas Chametz) as "Or l'Arba'ah Asar." The Gemara there explains that although the Mishnah means to say the night of the fourteenth and not the day, it uses the word "Or" (which literally means "light"), because that it is a more refined expression.

What is more refined about using the word "light" to refer to night, and why is that word used to mean "night" only in the beginning of Pesachim (and in Kerisus 1:6)?

The answer is that the quality of the Yom Tov of Pesach is that it reveals the light that is hidden in the darkness of night. Even in times of Galus, when Hash-m's presence is less apparent, when the Jews relive the miracles of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim they see more clearly the guiding hand of Hash-m in this world and during Galus. Both Olam ha'Zeh and Galus are compared to night. This is why Maseches Pesachim begins by calling the night, "Or."

(d) The source for Rav Hutner's insight may be found in a comment of the VILNA GA'ON in his commentary to the Hagadah regarding the question, "Why is this night (ha'Lailah ha'Zeh) different from all other nights?" In Hebrew, nouns are classified as either masculine or feminine. Masculine nouns must be modified by masculine adjectives and pronouns, while feminine nouns must be modified by feminine adjectives and pronouns. Although there is no fixed rule that determines the gender of a particular noun, there is one principle that is constant: when a noun ends in the vowel "Kamatz" followed by a silent letter "Heh," that word is of feminine gender. When, then, is the word "Lailah" (night), which is a feminine noun, always modified by masculine adjectives and pronouns (such as "ha'Zeh")?

The question of "Mah Nishtanah" is why "Lailah," night, is modified by the word "Zeh," a masculine pronoun. It should be referred to as "ha'Lailah ha'Zos," with the feminine pronoun!

The Vilna Ga'on adds than not only would it be grammatically proper for "Lailah" to be feminine, it would also be logically consistent. Night, he notes, is feminine in its very essence. It is for this reason that many positive commandments must be performed exclusively during the daytime. (Examples of these are blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah, holding the Arba'as ha'Minim on Sukos, and wearing Tzitzis and Tefilin.) This is in accordance with the "feminine" nature of the night. Just as women are exempt from fulfilling these positive commandments (see Mishnah, Kidushin 29a), so, too, the night, with its feminine element, is "exempt" from these Mitzvos.

(The source for the Vilna Ga'on's comment that night is "feminine" may be found in the Zohar (Bereishis 20b) which asserts that daytime is when man actively provides for the family's livelihood, as the verse says, "The sun shines... and men go out to do their work until evening" (Tehilim 104:22-23). The woman, on the other hand, provides for her family at night. As the verse says, "She arises while it is still night, and she prepares sustenance for her household..." (Mishlei 31:15). In the words of the Zohar, the man "rules" during the daytime and the woman "rules" during the nighttime.)

The Vilna Ga'on explains that inherent in this understanding of night as feminine is an even deeper meaning to the Hagadah's question. Although time-related Mitzvos Aseh normally apply only during the day, there are a small number of exceptions. The exceptions are the Mitzvos performed on the Seder night: the eating of Matzah, Maror, and, in the times of the Beis ha'Mikdash, the Korban Pesach, and the Mitzvah of relating the story of the Exodus. The Torah specifically commands that these Mitzvos be performed exclusively at night.

The question of the Hagadah is why the night of Pesach is even more "masculine" ("ha'Zeh"), than other nights, as it is laden with positive Mitzvos. (According to this interpretation, the four questions can be understood to correspond to the four positive Mitzvos of Pesach night; see the Mishnah's version of the four questions in Pesachim 116a (M. KORNFELD). See also SHELAH in his commentary "Matzah Shemurah" on the Hagadah, who makes a similar point in his commentary on the words "Kol Oso ha'Lailah," and see also GAN RAVEH to Shemos 12:42.)

This night's masculine character must somehow be related to the broader question mentioned above: Why does the word "Lailah" in general display a certain duality? Although it has the feminine "Kamatz-Heh" ending, it is consistently described with masculine modifiers.

If this is the intention of the Hagadah's question, then what is the answer to the question? The Vilna Ga'on does not elaborate on this, but the answer may be explained as follows (based on the words of the Shelah and Gan Raveh mentioned above).

The trials and tribulations of this world are compared to the night because, in the present world, man is often blind to Hash-m's presence in and control of the world. The radiant, joyful period of the world of the future in times of Mashi'ach is compared to the day, because then Hash-m will make His majesty clear for all to see. In retrospect, all events that occurred in this world will be clearly seen to have been for the best. This is the meaning of the Midrash (Shemos Rabah 18:11) that states that during the future redemption the nighttime will be lit up like the day.

This means that at the dawn of the era of Mashi'ach, it will become abundantly evident that even when man does not "notice" Hash-m's presence during the "night" of Olam ha'Zeh, it is there all the same. When one sees things in the proper perspective, the guiding Hand of Hash-m is "as clear as day." Femininity denotes privateness (since it is characteristic of women to be less conspicuous than men; see Yevamos 77a). Night may "look" feminine (as denoted by the "Kamatz-Heh" ending) but it is in fact masculine in nature; Hash-m's Hand can be seen if one just looks at it in the proper perspective, that of one who has witnessed Yetzi'as Mitzrayim: "Anochi Hash-m... Asher Hotzeisicha me'Eretz Mitzrayim." This explains the duality of the word "Lailah."

The Zohar (2:38a) teaches that the night of the redemption from Mitzrayim was lit up as bright as day. During that time of miraculous redemption, night "became day." The reason why the night of Pesach is imbued with such a masculine character is that it commemorates the night of the Exodus, during which Hash-m's presence was "as clear to us as day." This is why the Torah, which usually assigns positive Mitzvos to the daylight hours, makes an exception in this instance. On this night, the Torah designates the nighttime for the performance of such Mitzvos.

May we merit to witness the ultimate manifestation of Hash-m's Glory and the end to all suffering, speedily in our days.

2) THE OWNERSHIP OF STONES OF A WALL THAT FELL

QUESTIONS: The Mishnah teaches that since the two neighbors must share in the expenses of building a wall between them, if the wall between them later falls they divide the stones and the place upon which the wall stood. It is assumed that the wall was built by both of them on land contributed by both of them.

The Gemara asks why the Mishnah needs to teach that the two neighbors divide the stones. It should be obvious that they divide them, since the stones fell on the properties of both neighbors (RASHI DH Peshita)! The Gemara answers that the Mishnah's ruling is necessary in a case where the stones fell mainly on the property of one of the neighbors.

(a) Why is it obvious that if the stones are spread over both properties that the two neighbors divide them? This case should be comparable to the case in the Mishnah in Bava Metzia (2a) which teaches that when two people are holding a Talis and each one claims it belongs to him, they divide it only after they each make a Shevu'ah. The Gemara in Bava Metzia (7a) teaches that even if the hands of each of the two claimants are grasping an entire half of the Talis, they still may not divide it without first making a Shevu'ah (see TOSFOS to Bava Metzia 7a, DH Machvei). The Mishnah here is teaching a great Chidush when it says that the two neighbors divide the stones without a Shevu'ah! Why, then, does the Gemara ask that this is obvious?

(b) How does the Gemara's answer explain why the Mishnah needs to teach that not only the stones but even the land upon which the wall was built belongs to both of them? Even though it is possible that all of the stones fell on the property of only one neighbor, the land upon which the wall stood cannot be transferred to the possession of one of the neighbors!

ANSWERS:

(a) The Gemara in Bava Metzia (5b) concludes that the reason why the claimants holding the Talis must make a Shevu'ah before they divide it is that if they did not need to make a Shevu'ah, everyone would go and seize someone else's object and claim that it was his. This concern applies when a person is physically holding an object together with another person. If an object is resting in the Chatzeros of two people, there is no concern that a Chatzer will "seize" a person's object, and therefore they divide it without a Shevu'ah.

(b) TOSFOS (2a, DH Lefichach) explains that the Mishnah mentions only tangentially ("Agav") that the land on which the wall was standing is divided when it mentions the primary Halachah that the stones are divided.

The YAD RAMAH questions the answer of Tosfos and says that the Mishnah should have mentioned first that the stones are divided. Instead, the Mishnah mentioned first that the land is divided, indicating that this Halachah is also part of the Chidush of the Mishnah.

The Yad Ramah answers instead that with regard to the land, the Mishnah is teaching that even if one neighbor claims that the entire area beneath the wall is his, and the other neighbor claims that half of it is his, they split the area. The claims are not judged like the case in the Mishnah in Bava Metzia (2a), in which one claims that the entire Talis is his while the other claims that half of it is his, in which case they divide half of it, and the one who claims that all of it is his takes the other half. Here, there is no doubt that they built the wall on both properties, and the one who is claiming that half is his is telling the truth.

The RASHASH writes that the same point could have been taught with regard to the stones. The Gemara could have answered that the Mishnah is teaching that even if one says that all of the stones belong to him and the other says that half belong to him, they still divide them. Why does the Gemara not give this answer? Perhaps since stones are Metaltelin, the Gemara was able to give a simpler answer and say that all of the stones fell into the property of one of the neighbors.

3) THE OWNERSHIP OF STONES THAT FELL INTO ONE NEIGHBOR'S PROPERTY

QUESTION: The Mishnah teaches that since the two neighbors must share in the expenses of building a wall between them, if the wall between them later falls they divide the stones and the place upon which the wall stood. It is assumed that the wall was built by both of them on land contributed by both of them.

The Gemara asks why the Mishnah needs to teach that the two neighbors divide the stones. It should be obvious that they divide them, since the stones fell on the properties of both neighbors (RASHI DH Peshita)! The Gemara answers that the Mishnah's ruling is necessary in a case where the stones fell mainly on the property of one of the neighbors.

Why, though, would one have thought that the stones are not divided in such a case? The Rishonim offer various approaches to this question.

ANSWERS:

(a) The RASHBA explains the Gemara in a simple manner. Had the Mishnah not taught that the stones are divided, one might have thought that the one in whose property the stones fell has a Chazakah.

TOSFOS (2a, DH Lefichach) rejects this explanation because the Gemara (4b) says that if two people build a wall together in a field of grain ("Bik'ah") between their properties, it is not necessary for either of them to make a "Chazis." This implies that when no proof is present, it is assumed that the wall was built by both neighbors, and if it falls there is no concern that the one in whose field the stones have fallen will claim that he built the wall himself.

The Rashba rejoins that this is not a question, and that Rashi answers this question in his commentary later (4b, DH v'Lo Ya'asu). The Gemara does not mean that the lack of proof allows for the division of the wall when it falls. Rather, it means that when a wall in a Bik'ah has no "Chazis" on either side, it is considered proof that the wall was built jointly and not by either neighbor independently. This proof does not apply to the wall of a Chatzer (the subject of the Reisha of the Mishnah), because a "Chazis" cannot be used as proof of ownership in a Chatzer, as the RI MI'GASH (cited by the Rosh) writes.

(b) However, RASHI (DH Peshita) in a Hagahah in the name of RABEINU CHANANEL explains the Gemara differently. He writes that one would have thought that the neighbor in whose property the wall fell could claim that the stones belong to him, since his neighbor did not protest the fact that his stones are resting in another person's domain. The Mishnah teaches that since the two neighbors owned the wall jointly when it was built, they give permission to each other to store the stones of the wall in the domain of the other. Therefore, it is as if the stones fell into jointly-owned property, in which case no one would expect either of the neighbors to protest about the location of his stones (as in Bava Metzia 116b, and Rashi there, DH Lo Kapdi). This is also how the YAD RAMAH and the ROSH (1:6) explain the Gemara.

Rabeinu Chananel does not explain the Gemara in the straightforward manner that the Rashba suggests -- that when the stones fall into the domain of one of the neighbors, that neighbor should have a Chazakah and be able to claim that he built the wall originally by himself. Instead, it is assumed that the wall was built by both of the neighbors, and the one in whose property the wall fell has no Chazakah. Why is this?

Rabeinu Chananel's reasoning seems to be that such a Chazakah is considered to be a "Tefisah Achar she'Nolad ha'Safek," an act of seizing an item after a doubt about its ownership has already arisen, which is not an acceptable Chazakah, as Tosfos writes (2a, DH Lefichach). Proof for this understanding may found in Bava Metzia (6a), where the Gemara teaches that when two disputants are holding a Talis together, and one of them snatches it away from the other in front of Beis Din and the other party protests, it is not considered a Chazakah since there was already a doubt about the ownership of the Talis before one party snatched it away.

The Rashba, on the other hand, differentiates between a case in which the object was snatched after it was brought to court, and a case in which the object was snatched before it was brought to court. In the latter case, it would be considered a Chazakah if not for the fact that a wall between two Chatzeros must be built by both neighbors.

OTHER D.A.F. RESOURCES ON THIS DAF