Bava Batra Chapter Four Mishnah Nine



Mishnah nine continues the discussion began in mishnah eight, what is sold as part of the sale of a field.


Mishnah Nine

1)                     But [one who sold a field] has not sold the stones that are not necessary to it or the canes in a vineyard that are not necessary to it or the produce that is already picked from the ground.

a)                                           But if he had said, “It and all that is in it” all of these are sold also.

b)                                          But in neither case has he sold any partition of reeds that covers a quarter-kav’s space of ground, or the watchman’s hut if it was not fastened down with mortar, or grafted carob trees or cropped sycamores, or any cistern or winepress or dovecote, whether they are lying waste or in use. 

2)                     And [the seller] must purchase [from the buyer] a way thereto, according to Rabbi Akiva.

a)                                           But the sages say:  “He need not.”

b)                                          And Rabbi Akiva agrees that if he had said, “Excepting these”, he need not buy himself a way thereto. 

c)                                           If he had sold them (the cistern, winepress or dovecote) to another, Rabbi Akiva says:  “He [that bought them] need not buy himself a way thereto.

d)                                          But the Sages say:  “He must buy himself a way thereto.”

3)                     When is this so?  With regards to he that sells his field.  But if he gives it as a gift, he gives everything that is in it.

a)                                           If brothers who divided [an inheritance] came into possession of a field, they come into possession of everything that is in it.

b)                                          If a man secured title by possession of the property of a convert, and secured title by possession of the [convert’s] field, he secures title to everything that is in it.

c)                                           If a man dedicated a field [to the Temple] he has dedicated everything in it.

i)                                                        Rabbi Shimon says:  “If a man dedicated a field, he has dedicated only the grafted carob trees and cropped sycamores.”



Since this is an extremely long mishnah we will explain it section by section.

Section one:  In the previous mishnah we learned what things are sold as part of a field and now in our mishnah we learn the opposite categories, things that are not sold as part of a field.  Anything that is not necessary for the maintenance of the field is not sold with it, such as stones not used as part of a fence or canes in a vineyard not used for the vines.  Picked produce is not considered part of the field.  If the seller had specified that he was selling all that was in the field than he has sold the preceding items but he has still not sold the partition of reeds that is of significant size, nor the watchman’s house which is not attached to the ground.  Since these items are separate from the field they are not sold with the field and are not considered to be “in the field”.  He also has not sold the grafted carob or the cropped sycamore.  These are more important than the ungrafted carob and the young sycamore that are sold with the field, as we learned in mishnah eight.  Since they are important, they must be sold on their own.  Finally he has not sold any of the major structures which may be in the field, such as a cistern for storing water, a wine press and a dovecote.  These are not sold even if they are not in use.

Section two:  In this section we learn of a dispute between Rabbi Akiva and the other sages regarding the necessity for a seller to buy a path to reach his cistern, wine press or dovecote which are on the field he just sold. According to Rabbi Akiva the seller must buy a path from the buyer; according to the sages he need not.  We also learn of the opposite case, where the seller sold a cistern, wine press or dovecote but did not sell the field.  According to Rabbi Akiva in such a case the buyer need not buy a path from the seller; according to the sages he must.  This entire section was taught in mishnah two of our chapter and there we explained it in greater depth.

Section three:  This section states that all that we have learned in the previous parts of the mishnah is true only when a person sells a piece of land to another.  However, if he were to give the land to another person as a gift, we assume that he is giving not only the land but all of the things in it as well.  This is true even though he does not specify that he is giving all that is in it.  Furthermore, when brothers inherit land, they also inherit all that is on the land.  When a person secures property that belonged to a convert who died without inheritors, he too secures not only the land but all that is in it.  [A convert’s non-Jewish family do not inherit him.  Therefore if he dies without children his property will not go to any inheritors.]  Finally, when one dedicates a piece of land to the Temple, we assume that he is dedicating not just the land, but all that is in it.  Over this last detail Rabbi Eliezer disagrees.  According to him when a person dedicates a piece of land he is only dedicating the trees which receive their water and nutrients directly from the land.  All of the other things are not part of his dedication to the Temple. 


Questions for Further Thought:

·                      Section 1b:  Why does the mishnah need to emphasize that cisterns, wine presses and dovecotes are not sold with a field no matter if they lie in waste or are in use?  What might you have thought had the mishnah not included this line? 

·                      Section 3:  Why is there a difference between one who sells a piece of land to another and one who gives it away?