Bava Metzia

Bava Metzia (Talmudic Aramaic: בבא מציעא, "The Middle Gate") is the second of the three Talmudic tractates in the order of Nezikin ("Damages"). Bava Metzia discusses civil matters such as property law and usury. It also examines one's obligations to guard lost property that have been found, or property explicitly entrusted to him.

Bava Metzia contains 119 pages divided into ten chapters.

Honorary trustee ("Shomer Ḥinnam" chaps. i-v)

A honorary trustee is one who finds lost property. He has to keep it as "shomer ḥinnam" until he can restore it to the rightful owner ().

Borrower ("Shoel", chap. viii.1-3)

A borrower or hirer is liable to pay for every kind of loss, including loss through accident, except "if the lender is with him" (). The last section of chap. ix. defines the rights of the creditor in accordance with .

The concluding chapter (x) regulates the relations between joint owners and neighbors, in dwellings and in fields. The last case mentioned is especially interesting as showing a highly developed state of agricultural jurisdiction in the Mishnaic days.

Tosefta and Gemara

The Tosefta in Bava Metzia is divided into eleven chapters, which correspond to the ten chapters of the Mishnah in the following way: Chaps. i.-ii. correspond to chaps. i.-ii. of the Mishnah; chap. iii. to chaps. iii.-iv. of the Mishnah; chaps. iv.-vi. to chap. v. of the Mishnah; chap. vii.—which begins "he who hires workmen" ("po'alin") instead of "he who hires artisans" ("umanin") to Mishnah vi. 1; and chap. viii. correspond to chaps. vi.-viii. of the Mishnah; chaps. ix.-x. to chap. xi.; chap. xi. to chap. x. of the Mishnah.

The Gemara, in explaining the laws of the Mishnah, discusses a variety of kindred problems, especially the Babylonian Gemara; the Jerusalem being very meager in this respect. Rabbi Zeira, coming from Babylonia to Jerusalem, is said to have fasted a hundred times within a certain period of time, praying that he might forget the Babylonian Gemara, and fully grasp the teachings of Rabbi Johanan, the Jerusalem master (B. M. 85a). According to Rashi, the rabbis of Jerusalem were not of a contentious disposition, and settled difficulties without much discussion (compare p. 38b: "Are you from Pumbedita, where they make an elephant pass through the eye of a needle?").

References

*JewishEncyclopedia


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