1) ONE WHO SOLD HIS PROPERTY UNNECESSARILY
QUESTIONS: The Gemara discusses the Halachah in the case of a person who sells his property in order to use the proceeds to purchase a specific item, and after he sells his property he discovers that he no longer needs the money for his intended purchase (for example, the buyer of the item decided not to sell it). Is he permitted to retract the sale of his property since it turned out to be a mistaken sale? (That is, is it as if there was an unspoken condition at the time of the sale that if the money from the sale is not needed, the sale should be annulled?) On the other hand, is the sale final and irrevocable because he did not expressly articulate such a stipulation at the time of his sale?
The Gemara attempts to prove from a ruling of Rav Nachman that the seller may retract the sale. It once happened that there was a sudden, extreme increase in the price of wheat in Neharde'a due to a drastic decrease in the supply of wheat. All of the residents of the city sold their houses in order to be able to buy food. Suddenly, boats arrived carrying wheat and the price normalized. Rav Nachman ruled that the sales of the houses may be retracted and everyone may return the money he received for his house and get his house back.
The Gemara refutes this proof. Perhaps in a case in which one does not need the money from the sale, the sale may not be retracted, and the case of Rav Nachman was different. In the case of Rav Nachman, the sales were revoked because there really was wheat on the way to the city at the time the sales were made, and therefore the sales were based on a mistaken assumption and lack of knowledge of the present situation. If the wheat, on the other hand, had been shipped after the houses were sold, then the case would have been similar to the case of the Gemara's question and Rav Nachman's ruling would have provided valid proof that the sale may be cancelled.
The Gemara (according to Rashi's explanation) then records a dialogue between Rami bar Shmuel and Rav Nachman to support the refutation of the proof from Rav Nachman's ruling. Rami bar Shmuel said to Rav Nachman, "If you let them retract the sales, then the next time there is a famine no one will buy the houses, out of fear that the seller will retract the sale!" Rav Nachman replied that such famines are so uncommon that there is no concern for what potential buyers will think. Rami bar Shmuel responded that in Neharde'a, such famines are relatively common, and thus there is a concern that potential buyers will refrain from purchasing houses if the sales may be retracted.
RASHI explains that in the situation in Neharde'a, if the ships with wheat "came from a nearby place" and thus embarked after the sales were made, or even if the wheat embarked before the sales were made but the wheat "came only to these certain people alone (and not to others)," then the case indeed would have been similar to the case of the Gemara's question. However, if that had been the case, it indeed would have been a very unusual situation even in Neharde'a, and Rav Nachman would have been correct. Since Rami bar Shmuel criticized Rav Nachman's ruling on the basis that the situation which arose was relatively common in Neharde'a, it must be that the wheat was already on its way and was held up by coves and inlets in the river, which is relatively common and easily could occur again.
There are a number of points in Rashi's explanation that are difficult to understand.
(a) Rashi differentiates between a case of a "Mekach Ta'us" (a sale made in error) where the people sold their houses not knowing that wheat was already on the way (which is not the same as the case of the Gemara's question), and the case of the Gemara's question where either the wheat was shipped after the sale or it was shipped before the sale but only a few people in the city received it.
If the wheat was shipped before the sale, what difference does it make if it was enough to supply the entire city or just enough to supply a few people (who, as a result, now want to revoke their sales)? In either case, the food was on its way already and it was their lack of knowledge that caused them to sell their houses. (RASHASH)
(b) Rashi writes that if in the case of Neharde'a the food was shipped after the people sold their houses, there is no concern that in the future potential buyers might refrain from buying houses during times of famine, since the only time a sale is revoked is under highly uncommon circumstances.
Why is that? The Gemara says that the sale certainly may be revoked when the wheat was already on the way, which is a common occurrence, and it questions only whether the sale is also revoked when the wheat embarked after the sale, for that might also be considered a "Mekach Ta'us." If the sale is revoked under such circumstances, as well as when the wheat was already on the way, then it is even more common for a situation to arise that will cause the sale to be revoked! Why, then, does Rashi say that if the sale is revoked because the person ended up not needing the money (i.e. the boats were not yet on the way), then the sale is revoked only in an uncommon situation? On the contrary, if the sale is revoked whether the boats left before or after the sale, the revocation of sales is even more common! (TOSFOS DH Iy Hachi)
(a) When only enough food for some of the people was on the way, no particular person in Neharde'a could be certain that he would be the one to receive the food. Therefore, even had he known that food was on the way at the time of the sale, he still would have sold his house on the chance that he would receive the wheat that was on the way. The sale did not take place due to a lack of knowledge about the present situation.
(b) Rashi assumes that it is more common for people to sell their houses during a famine after food has been sent from afar and is already en route than for people to sell their houses during a famine before food has been sent from afar. If the sale is not revocable when the food was shipped after the sale, the only situation in which the sale can be revoked is when the food was already en route at the time of the sale. The Gemara says that this is a fairly common situation. As such, there is a concern that it might happen again in the future, and thus the sale should not be revocable so that in the future buyers will not refrain from buying houses during a famine.
If, on the other hand, the sale is revocable even when the sale was conducted before the food embarked, it must be that such a sale is considered a "Mekach Ta'us," for the following reason. A "Mekach Ta'us" occurs when a person sells his property with an implicit understanding that certain conditions must be met in order for the sale to be valid. This means that he is aware of the conditions that are significant to him. In the case of the Gemara here, if the sale is a "Mekach Ta'us" when food is shipped after the sale, this means that the seller is aware that food might be sent after the sale, and he implicitly stipulates that the sale should be valid only if the food is not shipped shortly after the sale.
However, when a person sells his house during a famine when shipments of food are already on the way (which is a more common situation), he certainly realizes at the time of the sale that boats might be on the way. If there exists such a strong likelihood that food is on the way and nevertheless he sells his house, he presumably intends to sell the house despite the fact that food might arrive. Such a sale is not a "Mekach Ta'us" at all since the possible arrival of food is something that a person considers when he sells his property and yet he takes the risk of selling nevertheless. Therefore, he will not be able to revoke the sale upon the delayed arrival of the shipment of food. That is why the Gemara says that the situation in which the sale may be revoked is uncommon, because the sale will be revoked only when the boats embarked after the sale and not when the boats had already embarked before the sale was made. (M. KORNFELD)
2) A HUSBAND'S OBLIGATION TO SUPPORT HIS DIVORCED WIFE
QUESTIONS: The Tana Kama in the Mishnah states that a widow may sell the property of her husband's heirs (the Yesomim) outside of Beis Din to raise proceeds to buy Mezonos for herself or even to collect her Kesuvah. Rebbi Shimon does not permit her to sell their property outside of Beis Din in order to collect her Kesuvah.
The Amora'im give two reasons for why, according to the Tana Kama, the widow may sell the property of the Yesomim outside of Beis Din in order to collect her Kesuvah. Ula says that the Chachamim enacted for a woman's benefit an easy way for her to collect her Kesuvah even after her husband dies so that women will not refrain from marrying because of the potential difficulties they might encounter when they try to collect the Kesuvah ("Mishum Chen"). Rebbi Yochanan explains that a man does not want his wife to be disgraced by having to go to Beis Din to collect her Kesuvah, and thus he marries her with the implicit condition that she may sell his property after his death to collect her Kesuvah without having to go to Beis Din.
The Gemara says that the following Mishnah -- which states that a Gerushah (a divorcee) may not sell the property of Yesomim outside of Beis Din in order to collect her Kesuvah -- expresses the view of Rebbi Shimon, who says that a widow may not sell the property to collect her Kesuvah outside of Beis Din. The Gemara asks that the Mishnah there cannot be expressing the view of Rebbi Shimon, because Rebbi Shimon already says in the Mishnah here that a Gerushah may not sell property outside of Beis Din to collect her Kesuvah because "Kol she'Ein Lah Mezonos" may not collect outside of Beis Din, and "Kol she'Ein Lah Mezonos" must refer to a Gerushah.
The Gemara answers that when the Mishnah says "Kol she'Ein Lah Mezonos" it does not refer to a Gerushah but to a Safek Gerushah (the husband threw a Get to his wife and there is a doubt whether it landed closer to her or closer to him before it was destroyed). Rebbi Zeira says that in such a case the husband is obligated to give to his wife Mezonos while she is married (before he gives her a proper divorce).
RASHI (DH Megureshes) writes that according to the Gemara's answer, the Mishnah here teaches that when a woman's husband dies during Erusin, she does not receive Mezonos from the Yesomim if she was a Safek Gerushah.
Rashi's words are difficult to understand.
(a) Rashi says that the Mishnah teaches that a woman who is a Safek Gerushah from Erusin does not receive Mezonos after her husband's death, which implies that as long as her husband is alive she does receive Mezonos from him. However, a husband during Erusin is not obligated to feed his Arusah! Only after Nisu'in does he become obligated to feed his wife. If he gives her a Safek Get during Erusin, why should he suddenly become obligated to feed her? Only a husband during Nisu'in who gives his wife a Safek Get should be obligated to continue feeding his wife since he did not give her a proper divorce and he was already obligated to feed her. (MAHARSHA)
(b) Why does Rashi explain the Gemara in such a forced way, that the Gemara means that the Mishnah refers to a Safek Gerushah from Erusin? Rashi should explain that the Mishnah refers to a Safek Gerushah from Nisu'in.
(c) Rashi writes that the Mishnah teaches that the husband during Erusin must give Mezonos to his Arusah who is a Safek Gerushah only while he is alive. After his death, the Yesomim do not have to feed her. Why should the Mishnah need to teach that? The only reason why a husband must give Mezonos to a Safek Gerushah is because she cannot remarry because of him, but now that he is dead she may remarry. Hence, it is obvious that the Yesomim should not be obligated to give her Mezonos! (TOSFOS DH la'Asuyei)
(a) The TOSFOS HA'ROSH (see also PNEI YEHOSHUA) discusses the first question. He explains that Rashi apparently maintains that even during Erusin a husband must feed his Arusah if he causes her to become a Safek Gerushah, even though he is not obligated to feed her when she is fully his Arusah and not a Safek Gerushah.
The reason why the Chachamim enacted that he must feed her when she becomes a Safek Gerushah is that he is the one who prevents her from marrying someone else. Normally, a husband during Erusin may not indefinitely prevent his wife from marrying someone else. After a certain period of time, he must either marry her himself or she may demand that he free her from her commitment by divorcing her. However, the Safek Gerushah from Erusin has no assurance that her husband will ever marry her; her husband can say that since she is a Safek Gerushah, he does not want to perform Nisu'in because perhaps she is actually divorced from him (and since Nisu'in involves a monetary obligation, "ha'Motzi me'Chaveiro Alav ha'Re'ayah"). On the other hand, she cannot marry anyone else because she is prohibited as a Safek Eshes Ish. Therefore, the husband must give her Mezonos right away during Erusin, since he is preventing her from getting married with no other recourse for her to follow.
The Tosfos ha'Rosh adds that the case of a Safek Gerushah during Erusin is comparable to a situation in which a husband refuses to marry his Arusah after twelve months, in which case he is obligated to give her Mezonos (or to divorce her).
(b) The TOSFOS HA'ROSH (see also PNEI YEHOSHUA) answers the second question as follows. Rashi has no choice but to explain that the Mishnah refers to a Safek Gerushah during Erusin, because if the Mishnah means that a Safek Gerushah may collect neither her Kesuvah nor her Mezonos from the Yesomim, why does the following Mishnah need to teach that a definite Gerushah may not collect her Kesuvah from the Yesomim (according to Rebbi Shimon)? This is already implied by the previous Mishnah!
For this reason, Rashi explains that the first Mishnah refers to a Safek Gerushah during Erusin who does not have a claim to "Chen," as the Gemara earlier mentions. The next Mishnah teaches that a definite Gerushah from Nisu'in also may not sell property outside of Beis Din for her Kesuvah, even though she does have a claim to "Chen."
(c) Rashi maintains that there is a reason to suggest that a Safek Gerushah should be able to collect her Mezonos from the Yesomim even after her husband's death. In the case of a man who gives his wife a Safek Get, the Chachamim give the husband an incentive to give her a valid Get as soon as possible. One might have thought that the Chachamim enacted that if he does not give her a Get before he dies she may continue to collect Mezonos from his estate even after his death until the Yesomim give her the Kesuvah (like a widow). Therefore, the Mishnah teaches that the Chachamim did not impose such a penalty on the husband and did not have such considerations. (M. KORNFELD)