THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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Bava Basra, 19
BAVA BASRA 19 (26 Nisan) - has been dedicated by Mr. Avi Berger (Queens,
N.Y.) in memory of his mother, Leah bas Michel Mordechai in honor of her
1) PLASTERING ONE'S BOR
OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that one may not dig a Bor (pit) next to the
Bor of his neighbor unless he distances his Bor at least three Tefachim from
the wall of his neighbor's Bor, "and plasters it with his plaster." The
Gemara asks whether the Mishnah means that he must distance himself by at
least three Tefachim *and* plaster his Bor with plaster, or whether the
Mishnah means that he may *either* distance his Bor *or* plaster it. The
Gemara cites several proofs but does not answer its question conclusively.
What is the Halachah? Does the one who wants to build a Bor near his
neighbor's Bor have to distance his Bor by three Tefachim *and* plaster it,
or is he required to do only one of these two things?
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Shechenim 9:1) writes that one must do both --
distance his Bor from his neighbor's Bor by three Tefachim *and* plaster his
Bor with plaster.
There are two different explanations given for the ruling of the Rambam.
1. The MAGID MISHNAH explains that the Rambam maintains that since the
Gemara states that "it is obvious that the Mishnah means [that the person
building the Bor must distance his Bor] '*and* plaster it'," that is the
Gemara's conclusion. Even though the Gemara proceeds to refute this, the
fact that the Gemara said that this is obviously the meaning of the Mishnah
indicates that this is the Halachah. This is also the way the RITVA explains
the ruling of the Rambam. He adds that when the Gemara refutes its
assumption that the Mishnah requires both conditions, the Gemara is merely
suggesting possible refutations ("Dilma"), but it is not refuting it
(b) The ROSH writes that since this question is unresolved, we cannot force
the builder of the Bor to do both -- distance his Bor *and* plaster it --
out of doubt. Rather, it suffices for him to do one of the two things. This
is also the ruling of the MORDECHAI (end of Bava Metzia) as cited by the
BI'UR HA'GRA (CM 155:51).
This is also the view of RABEINU YONAH, who writes that when the Gemara
refutes its assumption by saying "Dilma" ("perhaps..."), it is merely
suggesting possible ways of refuting the assumption, but it is not
conclusively refuting it. This also seems to be view the view of the RIF,
who quotes the wording of the Mishnah ("v'Sad b'Sid") but does not mention
the Gemara's question.
2. The VILNA GA'ON (in Bi'ur ha'Gra to Choshen Mishpat 155:51) explains that
the Rambam is consistent with his own view regarding unresolved questions in
the Gemara. The Rambam maintains that in any case of a Safek in the Gemara,
we rule stringently. Even if the Safek is a question that the Gemara asks
but does not resolve ("Ba'ayah d'Lo Ifshita"), nevertheless the Rambam
maintains that we act stringently. Thus, in the case of our Mishnah, the
person digging the Bor must both distance his Bor from his neighbor's Bor by
three Tefachim *and* cover it with plaster.
(However, the Bi'ur ha'Gra earlier (CM 155:26) -- when explaining the words
of the Shulchan Aruch (who rules like the Rambam) -- explains like the Magid
Mishnah who says that the Gemara's refutations of its initial assumption are
only suggestions and not conclusive. See MA'AREI MEKOMOS of RAV CHAIM
KARELENSTEIN who discusses this apparent contradiction in the words of the
The Vilna Ga'on writes further that the Rosh is consistent with his view
that in any case like this one of an unresolved doubt in the Gemara, we rule
Regarding this dispute between the Rambam and Rosh with regard to how we
rule (whether stringently or leniently) in a case of an unresolved doubt in
the Gemara, the Vilna Ga'on (Bi'ur ha'Gra CM 155:8, in "Likut") writes that
the reasoning of the Rambam is that since, mid'Oraisa, it is prohibited to
cause damage to someone else's property, we therefore rule stringently in a
case of doubt. (Where, however, the person went ahead and built his Bor
adjacent to his neighbor's Bor and did not distance it, we do not obligate
him to remove his Bor, because, as the Shulchan Aruch there writes,
"ha'Motzi me'Chaveiro Alav ha'Ra'ayah.") The Rosh, on the other hand, holds
that even though it the prohibition to cause damage to someone else's
property is mid'Oraisa, since it is a monetary matter we rule leniently, as
in all doubts of monetary matters. The Rambam, though, maintains that we
rule leniently in monetary matters only with regard to extracting money from
someone who is "Muchzak," since there is a principle of "ha'Motzi
me'Chaveiro Alav ha'Ra'ayah."
2) WHEAT SEEDS PLANTED AT THE SIDES OF A VINE SHOOT
QUESTION: The Gemara says that when one replants a shoot of a grapevine, it
is not permitted to sow wheat seeds directly over the replanted vine shoots,
because of the Isur of "Kela'im. However, one may sow wheat seeds to the
sides of the replanted vine shoot.
Even though the seeds will not take root to the sides (where the vine shoot
is), nevertheless the roots of the vine shoot themselves take root to the
sides, and thus there should still be a problem of Kela'im! (RAMBAN, RABEINU
YONAH, RASHBA, CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN, RITVA (19a), TOSFOS RID)
(a) The RAMBAN, RAN, and RITVA answer that it is not considered "Harkavah"
(grafting) when the seeds and roots of wheat are not mixed with the
*grapevine* itself. When the seeds of wheat are mixed with the *roots* of
the grapevine, even though the roots intermingle, this is not considered
Kela'im. Only when the roots of the wheat mix with the grapevine itself is
it considered Kela'im.
The Ramban adds that the reason it is not considered Kela'im when the roots
of one plant are mingling only with the roots of the other (and not with the
plant itself) is because in such a case, the roots of each plant are
absorbing nourishment from the ground and producing a fruit that is not
grafted. (The Ramban writes, though, that this reason needs further
(b) RABEINU YONAH and the RASHBA answer that the roots of a grapevine
descend lower than three Tefachim into the ground (and they do not ascend
upwards at all), and thus the roots that grow from the wheat seeds do not
mingle with the roots of the grapevine. This is also the explanation of the
RAN on the Rif in Kidushin (end of the first Perek).