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Ketubot, Daf Tzadi Tet, Part 2
Reading for Monday, March 20
Today’s sugya addresses the question asked in yesterday’s sugya—if the agent sells less than he was supposed to sell, is the sale valid.
אמר רבי חנינא מסורא, תא שמע: נתן לו דינר של זהב ואמר לו הבא לי חלוק, והלך והביא לו בשלש חלוק ובשלש טלית – שניהם מעלו; אי אמרת בשלמא שליח כי האי גוונא עושה שליחותו ומוסיף על דבריו הוי, משום הכי בעל הבית מעל, אלא אי אמרת מעביר על דבריו הוי, אמאי מעל?
Hanina of Sura said: Come and hear: If one gave to another a gold denar and told him, “Bring me a shirt,” and the other brought him a shirt for three sela’s and a cloak for three sela’s, both are guilty of trespass.
Now if you say that an agent in similar circumstances has performed his mission and was only adding to his instructions, one can well see why the owner is guilty of trespass.
But if you say that [the agent in such circumstances] was transgressing his instructions, why should [the owner] be guilty of trespass?
In this case the sender gave him a denar, which is worth six sela’im and he told him to buy him a shirt. The agent found him a shirt for three sela’im and bought a cloak for the other three sela’im. If we say that the agent has fulfilled his mission and just added on to it, then both have “trespassed” (if the denar turns out to be holy). But if we say that the agent has transgressed his instructions, then why should we say that the sender has trespassed.
הכא במאי עסקינן – דאייתי ליה שוה שש בשלש. אי הכי, שליח אמאי מעל? אטלית.
Here we are dealing with a case where [the agent] brought him [a shirt that was] worth six sela’s for three.
If so why should the agent be guilty of trespass?
On account of the cloak.
The Talmud rejects this and says that agent actually fulfilled his duty because he got a good deal on the shirt. The shirt was worth six and he bought it for three. Therefore, he has fulfilled the agency he was sent to perform and the sender has trespassed. But why then is the agent also guilty of trespass? Because he also bought the cloak.
אי הכי, אימא סיפא, רבי יהודה אומר: אף בזה בעל הבית לא מעל, מפני שיכול לומר חלוק גדול הייתי מבקש ואתה הבאת לי חלוק קטן ורע.
But if that were so, read the final clause: R. Judah says, Even in this case the owner is not guilty of trespass because he might say [to the agent,] “I wanted a big shirt and you brought me one that is small and bad.”
The problem with this interpretation is that it makes R. Judah’s words difficult to interpret. R. Judah says that the owner is not guilty of trespass because the agent did not fulfill his words. But if the agent bought a six sela shirt for three selas, why would the owner complain? This is not a “bad” shirt.
מאי רע? רע בדמים, דאמר ליה: אי אייתית לי בשית, כל שכן דהוה שוה תרתי סרי. דיקא נמי, דקתני: מודה רבי יהודה, בקטנית – ששניהם מעלו, שהקטנית בסלע וקטנית בפרוטה, שמע מינה.
What does “bad” mean? “Bad in respect of the price,” for [the owner can] tell him, “Had you brought me one for six sela’s [my gain would have been] even greater since it would have been worth twelve sela’s.”
This may also be proved by a precise reading, for it taught: R. Judah admits [that if the transaction was] in pulse both are guilty of trespass because [the quantity of] pulse for a sela” [is in exactly the same proportion as] that for one perutah.
This is conclusive.
“Bad” does not mean that the shirt was of poor quality. It means that the owner can complain that he should have bought a bigger shirt that was worth more. This interpretation is also borne out by a precise reading in the baraita. R. Judah agrees that if the owner sent him to buy a certain amount of pulse and he bought less, that both of them have committed trespass. Pulse is sold for the same rate no matter how much is bought so when he buys less he is not transgressing the directive of the sender. But if the item is not of this nature, then the owner can complain that the agent did not buy a greater amount.
The Talmud considers this to be a conclusive argument, but now it explains what this case of pulse actually was.
To note—the conclusion here is that we have not yet answered the question concerning the case of an agent who buys a lesser quantity. The case of the shirt was not one in which he bought less than he was supposed to. He bought “six sela’im” of shirt, but just paid only three for them. There is still another source we will learn tomorrow that will go back to determining the halakhah in the situation where he buys less.
היכי דמי? אילימא באתרא דמזבני בשומא, היכא דיהיב ליה סלע מוזלי גביה טפי! אמר רב פפא: באתרא דכיילי בכני, דאמר ליה כנא כנא בפרוטה.
How is this to be understood? If it be suggested [that it refers] to a place where [pulse] is sold by estimate, when he pays a sela he gets it at a much cheaper rate?
Papa replied: [It refers] to a place where each kanna is sold for one perutah.
In a place where pulse is sold by estimate, were he to buy a bigger quantity, he would have gotten a greater discount. Therefore, when he bought a lesser amount, the agent has harmed the sender. Therefore, the baraita must refer to a place where they sell strictly by measure, and the quantity does not matter.