QUESTIONS: The Gemara states that the original division of Eretz Yisrael, in the times of Yehoshua bin Nun, was done with the augmentation of monetary payments. Rebbi Yehudah explains that one Se'ah of land in the region of Yehudah was worth five Se'ah of land in the region of Galil. Consequently, one who received his portion in Yehudah was required to pay money to one who received his portion in Galil in order to compensate for the lower value of his portion.

The Gemara states that the advantage of receiving land of greater value cannot be that one person received land of high quality, while the other person received land of low quality, because certainly no one would agree to forgo a land of high quality as his family inheritance for all generations to come in return for a mere one-time monetary payment. Rather, the advantage of land in Yehudah over land in Galil was that Yehudah was closer to the Beis ha'Mikdash. The RASHBAM (DH li'Kerovah) explains that one who received property near Yerushalayim was obligated to pay a monetary sum to one who received his portion far from Yerushalayim.

The CHASAM SOFER (Teshuvos OC 29) questions the Rashbam's explanation.

(a) The Gemara is discussing the division of Eretz Yisrael at the time of Yehoshua. At that time, the Mishkan was not in Yerushalayim, but rather in Shilo, where it remained for 369 years (see Zevachim 118b)! The identity of the future location of the permanent Beis ha'Mikdash would not be revealed until hundreds of years after the division of the land, in the times of David ha'Melech. What advantage, then, did Yerushalayim have over any other city at that time? The Rashbam should have explained that one who received property near Shilo was required to compensate one who received property far from Shilo.

(b) Proximity to Yerushalayim is not entirely advantageous. The Gemara in Sotah (22a, see Insights there) cites a dispute between Rav and Rebbi Yochanan with regard to whether it is better to live near a Beis ha'Keneses or to live far from one. Rebbi Yochanan, who says that one should live far away from a Beis ha'Keneses, explains that one receives "Sechar Pesi'os" as reward for walking a longer distance to get to the Beis ha'Keneses. Accordingly, those who live farther away from Yerushalayim receive more reward for walking the greater distance, and thus they should have to pay those who live close to Yerushalayim as compensation!


(a) The CHASAM SOFER answers that, indeed, at the time of the division of Eretz Yisrael, the Shevet which received land near Shilo needed to pay money to the Shevet which received land far from Shilo. Later, when Yerushalayim was revealed as the permanent place of the Beis ha'Mikdash, the Shevet which received land near Yerushalayim needed to pay money to the Shevet which received land far from Yerushalayim.

(b) The Chasam Sofer explains that the advantage (or disadvantage) in having property near Yerushalayim was not that the travel-distance to the city is shorter. Rather, the advantage is that a place closer to Yerushalayim is a more important place due to its proximity to the holy city. Since a place closer to Yerushalayim is more important, those who live there receive more honor and respect, and therefore they must compensate those who live far away.



QUESTION: The Mishnah states that a son and a daughter are equal with regard to inheritance. Rav Ashi explains that the meaning of the Mishnah is that when a man has several sons, or when a man has several daughters (and no sons), he is able to declare that one of his children should receive all of his possessions when he dies. The Gemara objects to this explanation, saying that this is the opinion of Rebbi Yochanan ben Beroka, cited by the Mishnah later (130a), and thus it is unnecessary for the Mishnah here to express his opinion again. The Gemara continues and says that it is not reasonable to suggest that the Mishnah here is expressing his opinion anonymously in order to teach that the Halachah follows his opinion (in accordance with the general rule that the Halachah follows the opinion of an anonymous Mishnah), because in this case the anonymous Mishnah (here) is followed by a Mishnah later (130a) in which the Chachamim disagree with Rebbi Yochanan ben Beroka. In such a situation -- when an anonymous Mishnah is followed by a Machlokes regarding the topic of the anonymous Mishnah -- the Halachah follows the dissenting opinion expressed in the later Mishnah.

TOSFOS (DH Stam) asks that there is another rule, however, which states that even though the fact that the anonymous Mishnah is followed by a dispute means that the Halachah does not automatically follow the anonymous Mishnah, nevertheless the anonymous Mishnah still gains the status of being the opinion of several Tana'im, rather than being a single, minority opinion. The MAHARAM explains that this means that even though several Tana'im disagree later with Rebbi Yochanan ben Beroka, the Machlokes should not be considered a Machlokes between a single, isolated opinion, and a majority opinion (Yachid v'Rabim). Rather, the Machlokes should be considered a Machlokes between two groups of Tana'im (of equal numbers). Consequently, it is possible, although not certain, that the Halachah follows Rebbi Yochanan ben Beroka. Why, then, does the Gemara here say with certainty that the Halachah does not follow Rebbi Yochanan ben Beroka?

ANSWER: The RASHASH in Beitzah (28b, to Tosfos DH Gabei) suggests that the later Mishnah to which the Gemara here refers is not the Mishnah on 130a, but rather the Mishnah on 126b. There, an anonymous Mishnah discusses the case of a deathly ill person who decides to give away his property, and he gives more of his property to one son than to another, or he gives to the firstborn son a portion equal to the portions he gives to his other sons. The Mishnah states that if the father articulates that he is giving away his property as an inheritance (and not as a gift), his declaration is not binding because it contradicts the law of the Torah which says that "inheritance" means that the firstborn son receives a double share and the other sons all receive equal shares. The RASHBAM there (126b, DH v'Im Amar) says that the Mishnah there does not follow the opinion of Rebbi Yochanan ben Beroka, because Rebbi Yochanan ben Beroka maintains that if the person receiving the extra portion has the status of an heir (even if, according to the priority of inheritance, he is preceded by heirs with a higher priority), the father's declaration is valid even as an inheritance.

Accordingly, the Rashash asserts that the Mishnah here (122b) and the Mishnah there (126b) should be considered an anonymous Mishnah followed by another anonymous, but opposing, Mishnah. In such a case, the Halachah always follows the second anonymous Mishnah (and the first Mishnah is considered an isolated opinion, and not the opinion of several Tana'im).

It seems that the logic behind this is that when Rebbi compiled the Mishnayos, by writing the second Mishnah anonymously he intended to show that he did not accept the opinion expressed in the first Mishnah. This is why it is obvious to the Gemara here that the Halachah follows the later Mishnah and does not follow Rebbi Yochanan ben Beroka's opinion which is expressed in the Mishnah here. (See Tosfos, who gives a different answer to this question.) (Y. MARCUS)