Friday, June 12, 2009

Kinyan through Admission

The Gemora struggles to figure out a way how Reuven can transfer his money that he has at home to Shimon, who will then use that money to redeem the ma’aser sheini of Reuven and avoid the additional fifth surcharge.

The Gemora suggests that if Reuven would have land to transfer to Shimon, he could transfer the money “agav” the property. Although Tosfos in Bava Kamma (12a) writes that kinyan agav is only Rabbinical, apparently Tosfos understands that even a Rabbinical kinyan would be sufficient to establish Shimon as an owner of the money to redeem the ma’aser sheini and biblically avoid the additional fifth surcharge.

Tosfos raises a question: Even without a kinyan agav or kinyan chalifin, can’t Reuven very directly transfer to Shimon the money by “admitting” that it actually belongs to Shimon?

In this question, Tosfos evidently assumes that an admission doesn’t merely allow Beis Din to act as if witnesses testified, but it actually transforms the ownership of the item to belong to Shimon and would be considered Shimon’s money for ma’aser sheini redemption purposes.

The Ketzos HaChoshen (40) answers Tosfos question by establishing a clause in this type of kinyan that it must be done in the presence of witnesses. Therefore, we can easily state that we are dealing with a case where there are no witnesses available to allow the kinyan hoda’ah (admission) to go into effect.

The Ketzos (194:4) has an elaborate discussion where he explains that this type of admitting would serve as a kinyan even for the purpose of transferring chametz that is another place to belong to a gentile. We see from the fact that it works for ma’aser sheini that it not only works for monetary purposes, but even for prohibition purposes, therefore it should work for chametz as well.

However, Tosfos in Bava Kamma (104b) implies that it would not work on a Biblical level and wouldn’t work for ma’aser sheini purposes. Nevertheless, the Ketzos argues that it should still work for chametz since one has nullified the chametz and the requirement to rid himself of the chametz is only Rabbinical. But in truth, the Ketzos points out that even if kinyan hoda’ah is only Rabbinic in origin, it shouldn’t be any worse than kinyan agav which works for ma’aser sheini.

Reb Avi Lebowitz suggests that Tosfos in Bava Kamma doesn’t necessarily contradict our Tosfos because Tosfos in Bava Kamma is speaking about a case where he is admitting that he owns property by which he will transfer the money through a kinyan agav - to which Tosfos says that it doesn’t work on a Biblical level. But our Tosfos speaks of directly transferring the money through an admission, which would work on a Biblical level.

The rationale for the distinction is that admitting to owning property would require two Rabbinical allowances - one for the kinyan hoda’ah and a second for kinyan agav. A kinyan which is based on a combination of two Rabbinical allowances is weaker and perhaps would not work on a Biblical level.