Bava Metzia

Bava Metzia 30: The Straight Law

October 31, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Torah demands we do much to help others. However, while we may have to love others like ourselves, there is no requirement to love them more than ourselves. Thus if one who were to lose an object worth $5 would not find it worthwhile to spend any time trying to find it, one need not spend any time to return a $5 object to someone else. Determining when we might spend the time recovering an object will depend on my opportunity cost –...
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Bava Metzia 28: Lost and Found

October 30, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Until when must he declare the lost object? Until his neighbours know about it, these are the words of Rav Meir.” (Bava Metzia 28a) One who finds a lost object that is both identifiable and has some value must declare his finding in the hope of being able to return it. In an era with no email, social media or even printing, letting people know you had found a lost object was not an easy matter. Rav Meir argues that one’s...
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Bava Metzia 21: Intro to Talmud

October 22, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
I, probably like many of you began my formal study of Talmud learning Eilu Metziot, the second chapter of masechet Bava Metzia. “These are the lost objects one can keep, and these are the ones that one must declare.” (Bava Metzia 21a) For many years I thought this was a rather poor choice as an introductory Talmud text. It deals with complex and abstract issues more suited to law school than elementary. On the first page we...
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What's a Little Lie?: Bava Metzia 5

October 09, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Two people are holding onto a tallit. This one says…‘it is all mine’ and this one says ‘it is all mine’” (Bava Metzia 2a). Unable to determine who is the rightful owner – and taking into account that it is possible that both picked up the object at the same time and truly believe it is theirs - the Mishna rules that each one is to take an oath that “they do not own less than half and they...
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Crime Pays: Bava Metzia 5

October 06, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Crime doesn’t pay" is a nice moral message but not a very practical one. Most criminals, especially those who commit petty crime, get to enjoy their ill-gotten gains. While every once in a while some white-collar criminal is convicted, most will never be detected – provided they do not become too greedy. A little unreported income here, a little exaggeration at customs and one should be home free. The reason the...
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