Pesachim 21a: When Does An Aveidah Mi-daas Become Hefker: The Beis Halevi And His Foil

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Apr 24, 2019

Li-zchus - 

R' Moshe Yehuda Hanus

R' Shmuel Stein 

R' Chaim Schreck 

R' Eytan Feldman

R' Avromi Sommers

For much success in all they do together with their families!!!😊😊


The Mishna in Pesachim [21a] says:

כל שעה שמותר לאכול מאכיל לבהמה לחיה ולעופות ומוכר לגוי ומותר בהנאתו עבר זמנו אסור בהנאתו ולא יסיק בו תנור וכירים רבי יהודה אומר אין ביעור חמץ אלא שריפה וחכמים אומרים אף מפרר וזורה לרוח או מטיל לים:

For the entire time that it is permitted to eat leavened bread, one may also feed it to his domesticated animals, to non-domesticated animals, and to birds; and one may sell it to a gentile; and it is permitted to derive benefit from it. After its time passes, it is prohibited to derive benefit from it, and one may not even light an oven or a stove with leavened bread. With regard to the manner of removal of leavened bread. 

למה לי למיתנא בהמה למה לי למיתנא חיה צריכא דאי תנא בהמה דאי משיירא חזי לה אבל חיה דאי משיירא קמצנעא לה אימא לא

The Gemara continues to read the mishna precisely. The mishna states that one may feed his leavened bread to his domesticated animals, to non-domesticated animals, and to birds. The Gemara asks: Why do I need the mishna to teach about the case of domesticated animals, and why do I need it to teach about non-domesticated animals as well? The halacha should be the same for both cases. 

The Gemara answers: It is necessary to teach us both cases, as had it taught only about domesticated animals, one would have said that it is permitted feed them because if the animal leaves over some leavened bread one will see what is left over and dispose of it. However, with regard to a non-domesticated animal, if it leaves over any of the leavened bread, it hides it to save for later. Therefore, one could say that it is not permitted to feed it so close to the time when leavened bread is prohibited.

We see from this Gemara that if one gives chometz to an animal and the animal leaves some of it over - it is still considered the possession of the person and he is liable for owning chometz. From here the Beis Halevi [1-24] proved that even though אבידה מדעת is הפקר, that is only true if he doesn't care about what happens to the object. But if he throws a כלי from the roof and wants the כלי to smash i.e. he is still connected to the object via his desire for something to happen to it - it remains his until his intentions are fulfilled. 


With this understanding we have new insight into the Gemara that says that if one throws his כלי from the roof and somebody standing below STEPPED INTO THE PITCH and CLOBBERED the כלי before it falls he is פטור because he is in effect breaking a כלי that is about to be broken and hasn't really caused the owner any undue harm. In Talmudic parlance "מנא תבירא תבר"!! But WAIT!! There is ANOTHER reason he should be פטור! That is because the כלי was rendered הפקר when heaved from the roof?? 


The answer jives nicely with our principle: Since the owner wanted to the כלי to be broken on the ground, it remains in his possession until that happens. So if the person on the ground breaks it, he would be liable if not for the fact that מנא תבירא תבר. 


In the words of the Beis Halevi:

ובזה מיושב לנו דעת הטור בחו"מ סי' רס"א שכתב דאבדה מדעת הוי הפקר והקשו עליו מהא דבב"ק דף כ"ו דקאמר זרק כלי מראש הגג ובא אחר ושברו במקל פטור מ"ט מנא תבירא תביר ופירש רש"י שם זרק כלי בעל הכלי ולהטור הא מיד שזרקו הוי הפקר ובלאו הך סברא דמנא תבירא תבר פטור וגם דאם בא אחר וחטפה מהאויר יהיה שלו. והוכיחו מזה דרש"י חלק על הטור ועיי' ברא"ש ב"ק שם מה שהיקשה על רש"י. ובאמת ניחא דהטור לא כתב כן רק בנותן כלים בר"ה דלא איכפת ליה כלל מה שיתחדש בהן ומש"ה ס"ל דנעשה הפקר אבל בזורק כלים לשוברם דרוצה בשבירתן וכיון דיש להבעלים איזה רצון בהם מש"ה קודם שנעשה רצונו ולא נשברו עדיין הם שלו. 



With this understanding in hand [or in mind] we can also explain a Gemara in Sanhedrin [48a at the bottom]: 

היו אביו ואמו מזרקין בו כלים, מצוה על האחרים להצילן

If the father and the mother of the deceased were throwing garments onto their late son’s bier so that they would be buried along with him, it is a mitzva for the others present to save those garments from being lost.

The logical part of my brain [seemingly, in my case, a very small percentage] jumps in and asks - what is the problem?? Why should people have to save these garments?? The are in the category of אבידה מדעת and thus הפקר?? 

AHHHHH!! But now we understand!! Since the parent wants the garments to be buried with the son and thus forbidden for benefit, until that happens they are not rendered הפקר!!

IN the words of the Master: 


וכן מיושב בזה ג"כ מה דהקשו על הטור מהא דסנהדרין דף מ"ח היו אביו ואמו מזרקין בו כלים מצוה על אחרים להצילן דלא נעשו הפקר כיון דמתכוונים לאסור עליו הכלים מש"ה קודם שנאסרו הוי שלהם עדיין. והוא סברא נכונה ועכ"פ חזינן מהא דב"ק דבזורק כלי לשברם קודם שנשברו אינם הפקר:

 Let's go for a trifecta!! 


With this principal we can also resolve a question of Tosfos [Bava Basra 138a ד"ה כאן]: 

The Gemara [bottom of 137b] says: 

אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל הכותב נכסיו לאחר ואמר הלה אי אפשי בהן קנה ואפילו עומד וצווח ורבי יוחנן אמר לא קנה

Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says: If one writes a document granting his property to another, and the other person says: I do not want it, he acquires it, and this is the halacha even if he is standing and shouting in protest that he does not want it. And Rabbi Yochanan says that he does not acquire it.

אמר רבי אבא בר ממל ולא פליגי

Rabbi Abba bar Memel said: And they do not disagree with each other. 

כאן בצווח מעיקרא כאן בשותק מעיקרא ולבסוף צווח

Here, in Rabbi Yochanan’s statement, it is a case where he is shouting in protest at the outset. As soon as he is given the deed of gift he states that he does not want it. In this case, he does not receive the property. There, in Shmuel’s statement, it is a case where he is initially silent when he receives the deed of gift, and is ultimately shouting in protest that he does not want it. In this case he acquires the gift before he protests, so it is his.

Says the Rashbam:

כאן בצווח מעיקרא - מתחלה כשמסר לו זה את השטר התחיל צווח הלכך לא קנה שאין מזכין לו לאדם בעל כרחו דחוב הוא לו דכתיב (משלי ט״ו:כ״ז) שונא מתנות יחיה וכדאמרינן [באלו טריפות] (חולין ד' מד:), והנותן עצמו לא תחזיר לו, שהרי סילק עצמו מהם אלא הפקר הם וכל המחזיק בהן זכה בהן כדאמרינן בכריתות בתחלת פרק המביא אשם תלוי (דף כד.) אמר ריש לקיש הנותן מתנה לחבירו ואמר הלה "אי אפשי", כל המחזיק בה - זכה בה, ואסקינן התם כריש לקיש:

The Rashbam says that if he protested from the beginning, he did not acquire because one does not acquire against his will. Even so, the giver removed himself [from his property], and it is hefker; This is like Reish Lakish, who said in Kerisus (24a) that if one gave a gift to his friend, and the latter said "I do not want it", whoever seizes it first acquires it.

Asked the famous Tosafist Rabbeinu Peter [!!]: 

ועוד קשה להר'ר פטר דאמר בהגוזל (ב'ק דף קטז.) גבי חמרא דרב ספרא דאדעתא דאריא אפקריה אדעתיה דכ'ע לא אפקריה

 It says in Bava Kama (116a) that a lion accompanied the caravan of Rav Safra. Each night, a member of the caravan gave his donkey to the lion, and the lion ate it. On Rav Safra's night, the lion did not eat it. He made a kinyan on his donkey. The Gemara says that really, he did not need to, for Rav Safra made his donkey hefker for the lion, but not for others;

וא'כ לריש לקיש קודם שבאה מתנה לידו אמאי הוי הפקר הוה ליה למימר שיחזירו לנותן דאדעתא דליקבל מיניה קא יהיב ולא שיהיה הפקר לכל

 If so, according to Reish Lakish, before the gift came to his hand, why is it hefker? We should say that it returns to the giver, for he gave it with intent for the recipient, but not that it should be hefker for everyone!

Answers the Beis Halevi: There is a difference between the two cases.. Rav Safra's intention was solely that the lion eat the donkey. Since it was not eaten, it automatically reverts back to the possession of Rav Safra. But in the Gemara in Bava Basra, the intention of the person giving the gift was to allow his friend to acquire it. Since this intention was fulfilled, the object becomes הפקר. Like we said, in a case where the person's intentions are actualized, the object becomes הפקר.  

With great brevity, writes the Beis Halevi:


דעת הרשב"ם בב"ב דף קל"ח דהא דאמר ר"ל בכריתות דף כ"ד דהנותן מתנה לחבירו ואמר הלה אי אפשי בה כל הקודם בה זכה דאיירי בצווח מעיקרא......  עוד הקשו התוס' על הרשב"ם מהא דב"ק דף קי"ו גבי חמרא דרב ספרא דאמרי' אדעתא דאריה אפקרי' אדעתא דכ"ע לא אפקרי' וכמו כן נאמר דרק אדעתא דהמקבל סילק רשותו ולא אדעתא דכ"ע?


והנראה לישב דעת הרשב"ם דס"ל דאפי' אם משליך דבר לאיבוד רק אם יש לו איזה רצון ותכלית באיבודו לא נעשה הפקר וקודם שנעשה ונגמר רצונו הם שלו עדיין.  




But it is not so simple....


Maybe the principal of the Beis Halevi does not emerge from the Gemara in Pesachim because there we are discussing an animal that belongs to the person, plus he is in his own domain [רשות]. In such an instance, the food remains in his possession if the animal doesn't eat it. But if the animal would belong to someone else and he would be in a domain that does not belong to him, then maybe the food would be rendered הפקר - even though his intention [that the animal consume the food] was not fulfilled.


Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz ztz"l bolstered the assumption that the animal belongs to him based on the Yerushalmi which says [according to the Pnei Moshe] that the latter part of the Mishna is teaching that after the time that one is no longer allowed to derive benefit from chometz, he may not feed it to an animal that belongs to him - which implies that he may feed it to an animal that is הפקר. This would mean that the beginning of the Mishna which permits him to derive benefit from the chometz is [also] talking about a case where  the animal belongs to him. ONLY THEN would the chometz remain in his possession. Otherwise - it would become הפקר!!      


Rav Chaim also noted that the answer the Beis Halevi gave to the question of Tosfos on the Rashmam is not compelling. The Rashbam could be talking about where the person gave this object to his friend by means of זכיה ע"י אחר - someone acquired on his behalf and he then refused to acceopr ownership [see the 'עין יצחק אבן העזר סי' א' אות א who also says that the Rashbam is talking about a case of זכיה ע"י אחר]. ONLY in such a case do we say that the object becomes ownerless because the מעשה הקנאה - the act of transferring ownership, was effective from the standpoint of the giver. But in the case of the donkey of Rav Safra where this wasn't the case, it remained his. So the Rashbam could really not be a source for the principal of the Beis Halevi - at least not in a compelling way. 


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