Bava Batra, Chapter Two, Mishnah One



Most of the second chapter of Bava Batra deals with the obligations to distance damaging things from another person’s property.  Mishnah one deals with distancing things from a person’s wall lest they damage the wall.


Mishnah One

1)                     One may not dig a cistern near his fellow’s cistern;

2)                     Nor may he dig a ditch, cave, water-channel, or laundry pool unless it is three handbreadths away from his fellow’s wall, and he must plaster it with lime.

3)                     They distance piles of olive refuse, manure, salt, lime or stones three handbreadths from his fellow’s wall, and he plasters it with lime.

4)                     They distance seeds, and a plow and urine three handbreadths from the wall.

5)                     And they distance the mill [from the wall]: three [handbreadths] from the lower millstone and four [handbreadths] from the upper millstone.

6)                     And [they distance] the oven [from the wall]:  three from the belly of the oven and four from the rim of the oven.



Section one states that a person should not dig a cistern close to another person’s cistern since one cistern may cause the other to break.  A cistern is where they would store collected rain water, as opposed to a well which collects water from underground.

The remainder of the mishnah deals with distancing things from another person’s wall, lest they cause damage to the wall. The items mentioned in section two may cause the wall to fall, therefore he must distance them three handbreadths and plaster them to prevent water from seeping out.

The items mentioned in section three also may cause damage to another person’s wall and therefore he must distance them and plaster the place in which he places them.

Section four deals with three more items which also must be kept three handbreadths away from another person’s wall:  seeds, a plow and urine.  The difference between these items and those mentioned previously is that plastering is not applicable in these cases.

Sections five and six mention large items, a mill and an oven which also must be distanced from another’s wall.  In both of these cases there are different measurements given for different parts of the item.


Questions for Further Thought:

·                      What is the difference between the objects mentioned in sections four and those in sections two and three?  Why is the law slightly different in the different sections?