Bava Batra, Chapter One, Mishnah Three



Mishnah three discusses a person who builds a fence partially around another person’s property and wishes that person to share in the costs of the fence.



Mishnah Three

1)                     If a man’s land surrounded his fellow’s land on three sides, and he fenced it on the first and the second and the third sides, they do not obligate him [to share in the costs].

a)                                           Rabbi Yose says:  “If he rose a built a fence on the fourth side, they obligate him to share in all of the costs.”



In the scenario discussed in this mishnah Reuven owns three fields which surround Shimon’s fields on three of its four sides.  If Reuven were to fence in all three of his fields he would have built a fence around three sides of Shimon’s fields.  Since this fence does not totally surround Shimon’s field, Reuven cannot claim that Shimon benefited from the field and should therefore share in the costs. Rabbi Yose adds that if Shimon were to fence in four sides, he would thereby show that he wished to have his field fenced in.  In that case he is obligated to share in the costs of all of the fences, since he now benefits from them all.



Questions for Further Thought:

·                       If Reuven owns fields surrounding all four sides of Shimon’s field and he puts a fence around all of them, will Shimon have to share in the costs?