1) THE 22 YEARS ADDED TO BINYAMIN HA'TZADIK'S LIFE
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Binyamin ha'Tzadik saved the life of a woman and her seven sons by giving them Tzedakah from his own money when there was nothing left in the public charity funds. As a reward for his deed, a Divine decree against him was annulled and an additional 22 years were added to his life.
Why was Binyamin ha'Tzadik given specifically 22 extra years of life?
(a) The VILNA GA'ON explains that 22 years were added to Binyamin ha'Tzadik's life because, as the Gemara earlier (9b) teaches, a person who appeases and encourages a poor person is blessed with 11 blessings. Binyamin ha'Tzadik appeased the poor woman and her seven sons when he said that he wished with all his heart that he could help her, but the communal funds were depleted. He thereby appeased eight people (the woman and her seven sons) and thus was deserving of 88 blessings (11 X 8). The Chachamim teach (see Sotah 21a) that a blessing consists of three months of added life. 88 blessings times 3 months equals 264 months, or 22 years.
(b) The TORAS CHAIM writes that Binyamin ha'Tzadik was given an extra 22 years of life to correspond to the 22 letters with which the Torah is written, because he fulfilled the Torah's dictum, "Whoever saves one life is considered to have saved an entire world." (A similar reward of 22 years was granted to Rebbi Yosi, as the Zohar (Parshas Balak) relates.)
(c) The CHASAM SOFER explains that Binyamin ha'Tzadik was rewarded not only for the eight actual lives that he saved, but also for the lives of their descendants. This is based on the words of RASHI in Bereishis (4:10), who explains that Kayin was punished not only for killing his brother, but also for preventing the existence of his brother's descendants ("Kol Demei Achicha Tzo'akim"). Each of the woman's seven sons would bear in the future at least two children (a boy and a girl) in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Piryah v'Rivyah. Hence, Binyamin ha'Tzadik saved the eight lives of the woman and her seven sons, plus the 14 lives of the children of the seven sons. For these 22 lives, Binyamin ha'Tzadik was rewarded in this world with 22 extra years of life. (See also the third explanation of the BEN YEHOYADA.)
(See also MAHARSHA, BEN YEHOYADA, IYUN YAKOV, and EINAYIM LA'MISHPAT.)
2) HALACHAH: FOUR AMOS -- NET OR GROSS?
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that a jointly-owned courtyard (Chatzer) cannot be divided among the partners unless each partner will receive, after the division, at least four Amos.
The Mishnah in the beginning of Bava Basra teaches that when the partners in a Chatzer decide to build a wall to divide the Chatzer between them, they build the wall in the middle. The width of the wall depends on the local custom.
Is the area occupied by the wall included in the minimum four Amos that each neighbor must receive, or must each neighbor receive four Amos in addition to the area of the wall? For example, in a place where the local custom is to build a wall six Tefachim (one Amah) wide, what is the minimum size of a Chatzer that can be divided? Must it be nine Amos (so that each neighbor will receive four Amos after he contributes a half-Amah for the wall), or is it sufficient for the area of the Chatzer to be only eight Amos, so that each neighbor will receive a gross area of four Amos (which includes the space he will contribute for the wall), even though each partner will receive only three and a half Amos after the wall is built?
ANSWER: The YAD RAMAH (end of #136) rules that it is logical that each neighbor must receive four Amos besides the area on which the wall is built, because each neighbor must receive at least four Amos of usable Chatzer space. Therefore, each neighbor must receive at least four Amos after the area of the wall has been taken into account. (He brings proof for this assertion from Sukah 3b.) This is also the view of the CHIDUSHEI HA'RITVA (in Sukah there, printed in the Chidushei ha'Rashba) and the TESHUVOS MAIMONIYOS (Hilchos Shechenim #14). The EINAYIM LA'MISHPAT also infers from the words of the RAMBAM (Hilchos Shechenim 2:1) that this is the Halachah. The CHASAM SOFER also infers this from the words of the Mishnah itself.
A brilliant proof has been suggested in the name of RAV YEHOSHUA LEIB DISKIN zt'l, based on the words of TOSFOS at the beginning of the Masechta (2a, DH b'Gevil). The Mishnah there states that in a place where the local custom is to build a wall with "Gevil" bricks, each neighbor must contribute three Tefachim of space (so that the wall will be a total of six Tefachim wide). Tosfos asks why the Mishnah specifies that each of the two neighbors must contribute three Tefachim; it should say simply that where the custom is to build a wall with "Gevil" bricks, the wall must be six Tefachim wide. Tosfos answers that if the Mishnah had said merely that the wall must be six Tefachim wide, then it might have been mistakenly interpreted to mean that each neighbor must contribute six Tefachim worth of bricks and space, so that the total width of the wall would be twelve Tefachim. In order to clarify its ruling, the Mishnah specifies that each person must contribute only three Tefachim, which indicates that the total width of the wall should be six Tefachim.
The Maharil Diskin proves from Tosfos that the area occupied by the wall does not count toward the minimum area that each neighbor must receive. He explains as follows. Suppose, hypothetically, that the wall that must be built between the two neighbors' courtyards had to be 24 Tefachim, or 4 Amos, wide. If the width of the wall is included in the minimum area that each neighbor must receive upon dividing the Chatzer, then the Mishnah would state simply that the neighbors must build a wall that is 24 Tefachim wide, and it would be clear that each neighbor must contribute 12 Tefachim of space. The Mishnah would not need to state explicitly that each neighbor must contribute 12 Tefachim, because there would be no room for error; if the Mishnah would state that the wall must be 24 Tefachim wide, it would have to mean that the total must be 24 Tefachim and not that each person must contribute 24 Tefachim (for a wall with a total width of 48 Tefachim). If each person must contribute 24 Tefachim, then in a Chatzer of the minimum size each neighbor would receive no courtyard space whatsoever (since the Mishnah here states that each neighbor must receive a minimum of 4 Amos, which is 24 Tefachim).
It follows that if the wall had to be only 12 Tefachim wide (which is included in the area that each neighbor must receive), the Mishnah would state simply that the neighbors must build a wall with a width of 12 Tefachim, and it would be clear that each neighbor contributes 6 Tefachim of space. The Mishnah could not be misinterpreted to mean that each neighbor must contribute 12 Tefachim (for a wall of a total width of 24 Tefachim), because if the Mishnah meant that the wall must be 24 Tefachim wide, then it would state simply that the neighbors must build a wall of 24 Tefachim, and it would be clear that each neighbor contributes 12 Tefachim, as mentioned above (i.e. there would be no room to err and think that the Mishnah means that each neighbor is to contribute 24 Tefachim).
Taking this one step further, if the wall had to be six Tefachim wide (which, in fact, is the Halachah in a place where the custom is to build with "Gevil"), then the Mishnah could state simply that the neighbors must build a wall that is 6 Tefachim wide, and it would be clear that each neighbor contributes 3 Tefachim of space. The Mishnah would not need to state explicitly that each neighbor contributes 3 Tefachim, because there would be no room for error. When the Mishnah states that the wall must be 6 Tefachim wide, there would be no reason to interpret it to mean that each neighbor contributes 6 Tefachim (for a wall of a total width of 12 Tefachim), because if that were true, then the Mishnah would say clearly that the wall must be 12 Tefachim wide (which, in turn, could not be misunderstood to mean that each one must contribute 12 Tefachim, as mentioned above).
It is clear, therefore, that if the area occupied by the wall counts toward the four Amos of each of the neighbors, then it would not be possible to misinterpret the Mishnah at the beginning of Bava Basra as meaning that each neighbor must contribute 6 Tefachim for a wall of Gevil. Therefore, from the fact that Tosfos says that the Mishnah is open to this sort of misinterpretation, it is clear that the wall is not included in the minimum area that each neighbor must receive in order to divide the Chatzer. Hence, in order to teach that the wall's width must be a total of 6 Tefachim, the Mishnah must state explicitly that each person must give 3 Tefachim. Extrapolating to the above hypothetical cases, this would mean that if the wall had to be a total of 12 Tefachim wide, then the Mishnah would have said that each neighbor contributes 6 Tefachim. If the wall had to be a total of 24 Tefachim wide, then the Mishnah would have said that each neighbor contributes 12 Tefachim. The Mishnah would not have said simply that a wall of 24 Tefachim must be built, because such a statement might have been interpreted to mean that each person must contribute 24 Tefachim -- or 4 Amos -- of space. This interpretation is possible only if the space that is used to build the wall is not included in the minimum Chatzer area (i.e. 4 Amos) that each neighbor receives, because otherwise the neighbors would not receive any usable Chatzer space.
3) BRING THE DONKEY INTO THE HOUSE
QUESTION: The Gemara (11a) teaches that when a jointly-owned Chatzer is divided among the owners of the houses that open into it, each owner receives an additional four Amos of space for every doorway of his house, in order to give him a place to unload his donkey. Rav Huna rules that an "Achsadrah" (a structure that is covered by a roof but is not entirely enclosed by walls), however, does not receive this area of four Amos. Since it is not enclosed by walls, the owner can bring the donkey into the Achsadrah itself and unload it there.
Why does the case of an Achsadrah differ from the case of a doorway that is eight Amos wide? The Gemara earlier (11a) quotes a Beraisa which teaches that a doorway that is eight Amos wide receives an area of eight Amos (by four Amos) in the Chatzer. According to Rav Huna, why should a doorway of eight Amos be given an area of eight Amos for the purpose of unloading a donkey? After all, Rav Huna maintains that an owner is not granted extra space to unload a donkey when it is possible to bring the donkey indoors. A doorway that is eight Amos wide, therefore, should receive only four Amos, like every other doorway, and the owner should have to bring the donkey into the doorway and unload it there. (RA'AVAD cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes)
ANSWERS: The RA'AVAD answers that a doorway that is eight Amos wide has doors along that width which will impede the unloading of the donkey and damage the merchandise. Also, the ceiling is low and it is difficult to unload the donkey there. Because of the doors and the low ceiling, the owner is not required to bring his donkey into the doorway to unload it. In contrast, an Achsadrah has no doors, and thus the owner is required to bring his donkey into the Achsadrah and unload it there.
The RASHBA challenges the Ra'avad's answer. The Gemara says that when a house has half of a roof, even when the roof is on the outer side of the house (adjacent to the Chatzer) the owner is not given an extra four Amos for the doorway of that house because he can bring his donkey into the inner part of the house to unload it there. This contradicts the Ra'avad's answer, because in that case, too, there are two problems -- the doors and the low ceiling -- and yet the owner still is expected to bring his donkey into the house.
(b) The RASHBA answers that the difference between a house with a wide doorway and an Achsadrah is that the entire fourth side of the Achsadrah is completely open with no wall (this follows the definition of Achsadrah as given by the RA'AVAD and TOSFOS (DH Hacha), in contrast to the definition of RASHI who says that an Achsadrah has no walls at all). Since an Achsadrah is completely open on one side, the owner does not leave any objects of value there for lengthy periods of time. Therefore, it is easy for the owner to bring his donkey into the Achsadrah and unload it there, because there are no objects there that would impede his activities. In contrast, a normal house contains all of the objects that are normally used in a house, and thus it is not possible to bring one's donkey into the house to unload it there, even if the house has a larger doorway. (I. Alsheich)