Tuesday, January 27, 2009

As if it is in his Possession

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary here. We now have a “less than ten minute” audio summary as well.

Rabbi Elozar said in the name of Rabbi Yishmael (Bava Kamma 29b) : There are two things which are not legally in one’s possession and the Torah views them as if they are in his possession. One thing is a pit that one digs in a public domain, and even though he does not own the public domain, he is responsible for any liability that occurs regarding the pit. Similarly, one cannot have benefit from chametz after the sixth hour on the fourteenth of Nissan, and the chametz is rendered as ownerless, but one who retains chametz after the sixth hour is considered to have violated the transgression of owning chametz when it is prohibited to own chametz.

Rashi seems to say that the chametz is regarded as his only in the sense that he is held accountable for violating the two commandments of “chametz being seen in his possession” and “leaven being found in his house.” However, he does not actually own the chametz.

Similarly, the Meiri writes with respect to the pit. If there is water in the pit, everyone is allowed to draw water from there. The digger of the pit cannot prevent them from drinking the water by saying that he is the owner, for the Torah considers him the owner only with respect to liability for the damages.

The Chasam Sofer writes that if one would have chametz on Pesach and on Pesach, he would sell it to a gentile, he still would be liable, for the Torah considers it his. And so too, the halachah would be by a pit – if a gentile would acquire the pit, it would still be regarded as the digger’s pit with respect to liability for its damages.

The Noda Beyehudah disagrees and maintains that if without the prohibition of chametz, it would not be in the Jew’s possession, we do not say that the Torah treats it as if it is in his possession.