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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra
thus said R. Johanan to R. Simeon b. Lakish: According to my interpretation that1 proof [is produced] through the attestation of the deed, one can well understand how it was possible for the buyers to seize2 the property.3 according to you, however, since you maintain [that] proof [is to be produced] through [the evidence of] witnesses, how was it possible for the buyers to seize4 the property?5 — He replied to him: In the case of a protest on the part of members of the family I agree with you that it is no [legal] protest; [for] what do they plead? [That] he was a minor! [But] it is an established fact [that[ witnesses do not sign a deed unless [they know that] he was of age.6
It was stated: At what age7 [may] a minor sell his [deceased] father's estate? — Raba said in the name of R. Nahman: [When he is] eighteen years of age. And R. Huna b. Hinena said in the name of R. Nahman: [When] twenty years of age.
R. Zera raised an objection: It once happened at Bene-Berak that a person sold his father's estate, and died. The members of his family. thereupon.8 protested. asserting [that] he was a minor at the time of [his] death. They came [to] R. Akiba and asked whether the body might be examined. He replied to them: You are not permitted to dishonour him; and, furthermore, [the] signs [of maturity] usually undergo a change after death.9 [Now], according to him who said, 'Eighteen years of age'.
Baba Bathra 155b
one can well understand the reason why they came and asked whether the corpse might be examined.1 If, however, it is said, 'At twenty', what useful purpose could the examination serve?2 Surely we learnt:3 [If at the] age of twenty he4 did not produce two hairs,5 they6 shall bring evidence that he is twenty years old and he [becomes] a saris;7 he may neither perform halizah8 nor the levirate marriage!9 — Has it not been stated in connection with this [Mishnah], 'R. Samuel, son of R. Isaac, said in the name of Rab: That10 only [applies to the case] where [other] symptoms of a saris11 [also] appeared on his body!'12 Raba said: [This; may] also [be arrived at by] deduction. For it was taught, 'And he [becomes] a saris', from which [this]13 may [well] be deduced.
Whenever [such a case]16 came before R. Hiyya17 he used to tell them, if [the youth was] emaciated, 'Let him [first] be fattened'; and if he was stout, he used to tell them, 'Let him [first] be made to lose weight'; for these symptoms appear sometimes as a result of emaciation [and] sometimes they develop as a result of stoutness.
The question was raised: [Is] the intervening period18 [regarded] as that of under, or over age?19 — Raba said in the name of R. Nahman: The Intervening period is [regarded] as that of under age.20 Raba son of R. Shila said in the name of R. Nahman: The intervening period is [regarded] as that of over age.20 That [view] of Raba, however, was not stated21 explicitly but was arrived at21 inferentially. For there was a certain [youth], who during [his] 'intervening period' went and sold the estate [of his deceased father]. He came before Raba22 [who] decided23 that the action was illegal.24 [The student] who saw [what had happened] thought [that Raba's reason was] because during the intervening period [one is regarded] as being under age;25 but this is not [so]. In this [particular] case26 [Raba] observed excessive foolishness, for [the youth] was [also] liberating his slaves [without any apparent cause].27
Giddal b. Menashya sent [the following enquiry] to Raba:28 Will our Master Instruct us [as to] what [is the ruling in the case of] a girl [who is] fourteen years and one day old [and] understands how to carry on business.29 He sent [word] to him [in reply]: If she understands how to carry on a business, her purchase is [legal] purchase and her sale is [legal] sale.30 Why did he not enquire of him31 [about the case of] a boy? — The incident happened to be such.32 Why did he not address his enquiry31 [with reference to] a girl [who is] twelve years and one day old?33 — That case happened to be of such a nature.32
A certain [youth who was] under twenty [years of age] sold the estate [he inherited] from his father in accordance with [the decision sent to] Giddal b. Menashya. [When] he appeared before Raba34 his relatives told him,35 'Go [and] eat dates, and throw the stones at Raba'.36 He did so; [and Raba] said to them, 'His sale is not a [legal] sale'. When the verdict37 had been written out for him, the buyers said to him, 'Go tell Raba: The scroll of Esther38 [may be obtained] at a zuz [and] the master's written verdict39 [cannot be obtained] at [less than] a zuz!' He went and told him [so]. [Thereupon. Raba] said to them, 'His sale is a [legal] sale'.40 [When] the relatives told him41 [that] the buyers had taught him,42 he41 replied to them, '[But] he understands [that which] is explained; [and] since he understands when explained, he possesses intelligence,43 and his [previous] action44 was due to45 his excessive impudence.
R. Huna son of R. Joshua said: As regards [the giving of] evidence, his46 testimony [is legal] evidence. Mar Zutra said: This applies only47 to [the case of] movables48 but not to [that of] real estate. Said R. Ashi to Mar Zutra: Why only movables? [Is it] because his sale [of these] is a [legal] sale?49 If so,50 [would] the evidence of little children,51 of whom52 we learnt [that] their purchase [is a valid] purchase and their sale [is a legal] sale in [the case of] movables,53 also [be regarded as legal] evidence?54 — He replied to him: There55 it is required [that] both the men shall stand56 which is not [the case].57
Amemar said: His58 gift [is a valid] gift. Said R. Ashi to Amemar: [How] now! If in the case of a sale, where he receives money, it has been said that it is not [valid] because it is possible [that] he might sell too cheaply, how much more so [in the case of] a gift where he receives nothing! He replied to him:
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