1) THE MINIMUM NUMBER OF "COINS" OF DIFFERENT DENOMINATIONS
QUESTION: The Beraisa teaches that when a Shtar states that a person borrowed "gold Dinarin" but it does not mention the number of Dinarin, the creditor may claim only two gold Dinarin, since the minimum number to which the plural word "Dinarin" refers is two ("Mi'ut Rabim Shenayim"). The Beraisa earlier (165b) teaches the same with regard to a Shtar that says "silver Dinarin." Similarly, the Mishnah (165b) teaches that when a Shtar states that a person borrowed "Zuzin," "Sela'in," or "Darkonos," and the number of those coins was erased, the creditor may claim only two, the minimum number of the plural word used in the Shtar.
Why do the Mishnah and Beraisa need to repeat this law with regard to different types of coins? The Mishnah and Beraisa should teach this law in only one case, and one would know that whenever there is an unspecified amount of "coins" (in the plural) the creditor may collect only two, regardless of what type of coin. (TORAS CHAIM, TOSFOS YOM TOV; see SHINUY NUSCHA'OS in the Mishnayos, and DIKDUKEI SOFRIM #7.)
(a) The PNEI SHLOMO answers that the Mishnah and Beraisa are teaching a Chidush in each case. Since the subject of the Shtar is coins, which are divisible entities, one might have thought that even though the word used is plural it refers not to two coins but to one and a half coins. The Mishnah is teaching that the creditor is entitled to more than one and a half coins; he is entitled to take two full coins of the specified denomination, because if it is true that the debtor borrowed only one and a half coins (such as a Sela and half a Sela), the value of the half-coin would have been expressed in terms of a smaller denomination (a Sela and two Dinarin).
The Pnei Shlomo adds that this is why the Mishnah and Beraisa use the phrase, "it is not less than two...," instead of the phrase, "he may collect only two." "It is not less than two" excludes a lesser amount and implies that one might have thought that the creditor is allowed to collect only an amount which is less than two (such as one and a half). "He may collect only two" excludes a greater amount and implies that one might have thought that the creditor should collect more than two. Since the Mishnah is teaching that he may collect more than just one and a half, it says, "it is not less than two."
The Mishnah and Beraisa, therefore, need to teach this Chidush with regard to each denomination of coins, since one would not have been able to learn one from the other. People might write "one and a half Zuzin" without expressing the fractional Zuz in terms of a smaller denomination. Therefore, the Mishnah must teach in each case that the plural word is not less than two.
(b) The TIFERES YISRAEL explains that each case in the Mishnah is necessary for the following reasons. In the case of "Kesef Zuzin which are...," where the number of Zuzin was erased, one might have thought that the creditor is entitled to collect four Zuzin, since the words "Kesef Zuzin which are..." imply that the author of the Shtar is defining an equal value for "Kesef Zuzin." The lowest number of Zuzin which are equivalent to a different coin is four, and the Shtar originally said, "Kesef Zuzin which are one Sela." Therefore, the Mishnah needs to teach that the creditor may collect only two Zuzin, because perhaps the author of the Shtar was giving a number of Zuzin and not an equivalent value in another denomination.
In the case of "Kesef Sela'in which are...," where the number of Sela'in was erased, one might have thought that the author of the Shtar was referring to two inferior Sela'in (as mentioned earlier in the Mishnah), which are equal to seven Zuzin (or 6 2/3 Zuzin), and not eight Zuzin, and the Shtar originally read, "Kesef Sela'in which are seven Zuzin." Therefore, the Mishnah teaches that the creditor may collect two standard Sela'in and not merely inferior ones.
In the case of "Kesef Darkonos which are...," where the number of Darkonos was erased, one might have thought that the author of the Shtar certainly was referring to inferior Darkonos, for the following reason. A Darkon is a large and valuable gold coin, and people do not usually pay back debts with such coins. Accordingly, one might have thought that the author of the Shtar meant inferior gold Darkonos, and that is why he wrote the actual value of the Darkonos, which was less than the value of two standard Darkonos. Therefore, the Mishnah needs to teach that the creditor indeed is entitled to collect two normal Darkonos and not inferior ones.