Monday, June 01, 2009

200 - 1,000!!??

The Mishna had stated: Two people deposited money with a guardian, one deposited one hundred and one deposited two hundred, and each claims that he was the one who deposited two hundred. Each one receives one hundred, and the other hundred is left until Eliyahu ha’Navi arrives (to settles the issue for us). Rabbi Yosi says: If this is the law, what does the liar lose by lying? [He will receive his money back, and merely cause the other person to lose!] Rather, all of the money deposited is left until Eliyahu ha’Navi arrives.

Similarly, two people deposited vessels with a guardian, one is worth one hundred and one is worth one thousand, and each claimed that they were the owner of the expensive vessel. The smaller vessel should be given to one, and from the value of the expensive vessel should be given the value of the smaller vessel to the other, and the rest should be left until Eliyahu arrives.

Why by the case of money is the example of “two hundred” given, and by the case of the vessels – “one thousand” is given?

Imrei Daas answers: The Gemora below (38a) states: A person would prefer a kav of his own produce more than nine kavs belonging to his fellow. This is because that which he toils for is regarded as more precious to him.

Accordingly, we can explain as follows: With respect to money, a person is willing to lie that the two hundred is his when, in truth, he only gave one hundred. However, with respect to vessels, if his friend’s vessel is merely worth two hundred, he will not wish to lie, for he would rather have his own although it is worth less. If his friend’s vessel, however, is worth more than nine times the value of his own, he would be willing to lie. This is why the Mishna gives the example where his vessel was worth one hundred and the other vessel was worth a thousand.

This explanation is based upon two assumptions: 1. The logic that a person would prefer to have one of his own than nine of his friend’s is precise, and if his friend’s value exceeds his by more than nine times the value, he would not want his own. It is quite possible that the Gemora means that he would prefer his own over that of his friend’s even if his friend’s vessel is worth ten or twenty times the amount! 2. This logic applies by vessels as well as produce. It is quite possible that the Gemora’s logic applies only with respect of produce, where he toiled in the land – that is why the produce is more precious to him. However, with respect to vessels, it wouldn’t make any difference to him.