More Discussions for this daf
1. Reuven acting as witness to the sale of his own field 2. Halachah k'Admon 3. Friends
4. Admon and false testimony 5. Melachos that a Mother does for her kids

Jeff Ram asked:

I was mystified by the gemara (109a) regarding Reuven's field, which was stolen by Levi. Then, Levi sells this field to Shimon and Reuven is a witness to the sale, without protesting that it is, in fact, his (Reuven's) field.

Admon holds that Reuven can make a claim in Beis Din, and that he only signed as a witness because he knew that Levi was a "tough customer" to deal with (I understood that to mean that Levi would not submit himself to a Din-Torah) and Shimon was a more reasonable person.

It seems the outcome, according to Admon, is that Shimon, who paid money to Levi to buy this field, now has neither his money nor the field; and Reuven, who helped Levi sell this field falsely, gets his field back by means of signing a false sh'tar (by deceiving Shimon).

We had cases earlier in Mes. Kesuvos (19a at the top) where witnesses came to court and said they were forced to sign a sh'tar because (for example) the seller threatened to kill them if they didn't sign. Rebbi Meir says the witnesses are not believed (yet Admon believes Reuven here). Rav Chisda even goes so far as to say that the witnesses should give up their lives rather than sign falsely.

It seems that by Reuven signing this sh'tar falsely (he knows the field was not Levi's to sell), that Admon's Beis Din is rewarding his false testimony (on Levi's sh'tar mechira) by giving him his field back. It would also seem that the Beis Din is also unable to take the money away from Levi (because he's a "tough customer") - and if Reuven (through the Beis Din) couldn't get Levi to submit, we must assume that Shimon will have the same problem).

What could Admon's reasoning be to allow such a deception to take place with the "blessing" of the Beis Din? - and isn't this contrary to the gemara on 19a? How could Admon argue with both Rebbi Meir and Rav Chisda?

The only explanation we could come up with in our Shiur was that Shimon now had an action against Levi; but that just begs the question, since we already know that Levi won't submit himself to a Din-Torah.

Jeff Ramm

The Kollel replies:

Whenever someone buys a stolen field, no matter who the witnesses to the sale are, he is his own victim. It is the buyer's responsibility, not the witnesses, to verify the ownership of a property before he enters into a transaction. The witnesses are signing only on the mutual agreement between the buyer and the seller to sell the field, not on the validity of the agreement (i.e. they do not attest that the field actually belongs to the seller and it is his to sell). See Kesuvos 93a, that when one sells a field without Achrayus, the sale is valid even if the field did not belong to him. The Chachamim (who argue with Admon) also do not consider the owner's signing as proof to the seller's ownership because it would be "false Edus" otherwise, but rather because it is an implicit admission. (Therefore this cannot be compared to the Halachah on 19a about not signing a bill of sale when no transaction at all actually took place.)

Dov Zupnik