Sunday, December 13, 2009

Halachos on the Daf - Bava Basra 101


When one sells a ma’amad, the buyer gets the area of 4 kavs. The purpose of a ma’amad was to allow the people returning from burying a dead person, to reflect on the vanities and hollowness of this world and to repent. Its main purpose though, was to comfort the mourners and to cry along with them. So they would walk along this area, and repeatedly sit and then get up again.

When one sold a grave and included in the sale was the path to the grave and the room for eulogies and the area for ma’amad, the relatives of the dead person in the grave may bury another family member there, even over the objections of the buyer. The reason being, since it was the custom to bury all the family members in one area, the buyer is of course entitled to a full refund on the grave. However, the buyer is not forced to give back the area used for ma’amad and eulogies, rather he allows them to use it as needed for the funeral, and then he takes it back.

When one sells an area for the purpose of making a grave, then he gets an area 4 amos by 6 amos. The custom in those days, was not to bury the dead in single graves in a cemetery, rather they would dig out an area 4 by 6 amos, and they would bury up to 8 people in that area, usually all belonging to one family. The design was as follows. Along the length of the wall (6 amos) they would bury 3 on each side, in individual chambers, and along the width – the back wall (4 amos), they would bury two more. The front wall was used as an entranceway or a stairwell to get underground. Each chamber was 6 tefachim wide and 4 amos deep and the height was 7 tefachim (basically the shape of a coffin). Between the chambers on the length, there was a space of an amah and a half, and between the two along the back wall, there was a space of two amos.