Bava Batra, Chapter Four, Mishnah Seven



Mishnah seven discusses what is sold as part of a town, if one should sell the town without specifying what is included in the sale.


Mishnah Seven

1)                     If a man sold a town, he has also sold the houses, cisterns, trenches, caves, bath houses, dovecotes, olive presses, and irrigated fields, but not the movable property.

a)                                           But if he had said:  “It and all that is in it”, even if cattle and slaves were in it, all of these are sold.

b)                                          Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel says: “If a man sold a town he has also sold the town watchman.”



As we have learned on several occasions in our chapter, we learn in mishnah seven that when a person sells a piece of property, he sells only the parts of that property that are fixed in their place.  In this case, when a person sells a town, included in the sale are all of the fixed institutions of that town, such as the houses and the commercial institutions.  If he wishes to sell the movable property as well, such as the animals and the slaves, he must specify that he is selling “it and all that is in it”.  In that case, he has sold even the cattle and the slaves.

Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel disagrees slightly with the previous opinion.  According to him when a person sells a town he sells the town watchman, presumably a slave, as well.


Questions for Further Thought:

·                      Why might Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel hold that when a person sells a town he sells the town watchman but not other slaves?