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Putting the Create Back into Procreate Bava Metzia 84 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 22nd, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the anatomy of various sages, in bizarre detail,:   When Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosei, and Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, would meet each other, it was possible for a pair of oxen to enter and fit between them, under their bellies, without touching them, due to their excessive obesity.   A certain Roman noblewoman [matronisa] once said to them: Your children are not really your own, as due to …
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When the Letter of the Law is to Go Above It Bava Metzia 83 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 21st, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses an incident where Rabbah bar Chanan’s hired porters broke a barrel of wine. Though they were legally hired as watchmen and thus responsible for the mishap, his teacher (Rav) required him to not only release them of liability for the broken barrel, but to even pay them their wages! Rabbah bar Chanan asked Rav, “Is this really the required Halacha?” Rav answered, “Yes it is”, quoting …
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Where Charity Begins Bava Metzia 82 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 20th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses a teaching of Rav Yitschak, regarding the status of a collateral object. Is the object considered still in the possession of the borrower, or once the collateral is taken, it is fully owned by the lender until such a time as the borrower repays the loan? One halachic outcome that depends on this distinction is if the object was lost due to unforeseeable circumstances. If the object is fully possessed by the lende …
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We Are Not Alone Bava Metzia 81 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 19th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph discusses what happens when two people agree to watch each other’s possessions.  Since they are both doing it in exchange, they are considered to be paid watchmen and liable for theft that could have been prevented by more vigilance.  However, the Gemara raises an objection:   But why is this the halacha? It is a case of safeguarding with the owners simultaneous involvement! There is a principle that …
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Contracting with God Bava Metzia 80 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 17th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud beis discusses what are the liabilities of a rented object.  A paid watchman is liable for ordinary theft that could have been prevented through vigilance, while an unpaid watchman is exempt, so long as he was not negligent.  The basic idea is that if you are paid, you are expected to devote more energy and focus on safeguarding the object.   However, a renter can be seen either way:  Is he like a paid watch …
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I Got You This Far, Didn’t I? Bava Metzia 79 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 17th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph discusses various scenarios and liabilities incurred where a hired porter or wagon breaks down mid trip.  Even if the wares did not reach the desired and contracted destination, if at the current location they can be sold too, albeit inconveniently, or if after a day he can hire another transport for the remainder of the journey, the person must still pay the fare for the trip up to this point.  The claim of the …
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He Sees The Moment Bava Metzia 78 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 16th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the idea that certain funds are dedicated for one purpose and cannot be transferred to another purpose, no matter how noble. Thus, charitable funds donated for the indigent to use for the festive Purim meal cannot be used for other charitable needs. (The actual Halacha is subject to discussion and qualification, see Shulchan Aruch OC 694:2)    Chavos Yair (responsum 232) rules that if a person gave some …
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Shabbos Neuroses Bava Metzia 77 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 15th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the unique status of the workers in the city of Machoza. They were conditioned to continuous hard work, and having an unanticipated day off would be harmful to their routine.    In the times of the Gemara, Machoza was a bustling metropolis. From various references in Shas one gets the impression that it was a real urban landscape with a scholarly class, wealthy business class, and many laborers. They h …
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The Right to Complain Bava Metzia 76 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 14th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph describes a scenario where a landowner sent an agent to hire contracted workers at four dinars but the agent, unsolicited, negotiated a lower rate of three dinars. Upon discovering that they could have negotiated a higher wage, the contractors have no legal recourse, since they agreed to those terms. But the Gemara says they still have a grievance, as they can say to the one who came to terms with them: Don’t you ha …
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No Interest in Interest Bava Metzia 75 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 13th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph presents a surprisingly lenient ruling: Torah scholars are permitted to borrow from each other with interest. The Gemara explains: Why is this allowed? Because they are fully aware that interest is prohibited, thus they do not intend the loan as a formal business transaction. They willingly forgo additional payments from each other at the outset, considering the extra payment a gift exchanged between them.   This unc …
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The Seal of Disapproval Bava Metzia 74 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 12th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph describes a marketplace custom and procedure that confers enough intent so that acquisitions are binding, as if a kinyan or contract was made:   אָמַר רַב פַּפִּי מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרָבָא: הַאי סִיטוּמְתָּא – קָנְיָא. לְמַאי הִלְכְתָא? רַב חֲבִיבָא אֲמַר: לְמִקְנֵיא מַמָּשׁ.   Rav Pappi said in the name of …
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Work for Your Freedom Bava Metzia 73 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 10th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses an interesting, ethical law, that is not utilized in modern times:   The Gemara relates: Rav Se’oram, the brother of Rava, would forcefully seize people who were not acting properly and have them carry Rava’s palanquin. Rava said to him: You acted correctly, as we learn: If you see a Jew who does not behave properly, from where is it derived that you are permitted to have him work as a slave? The …
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Deterrence Theory Bava Metzia 72 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 10th, 2024

  Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses what penalties are incurred should someone flout the prohibition of usury, and draw up a contract, and actually lent the money:   תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: שְׁטָר שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ רִבִּית – קוֹנְסִין אוֹתוֹ, וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה לֹא אֶת הַקֶּרֶן וְלֹא אֶת הָרִבִּית, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי מֵאִיר …
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The Woke Bystander Effect Bava Metzia 71 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 9th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph quotes a verse from Chabakuk (1:13):   You whose eyes are too pure to look upon evil, Who cannot countenance wrongdoing. Why do you countenance treachery, and stand by idle while the one in the wrong devours the one in the right?   The prophet is identifying two problematic patterns in human behavior, and suggests that they are related: People tend to act with false righteousness and self-serving piety, too pure …
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The Issue is the Feelings, Not the Facts Bava Metzia 70 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 8th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph uses an interesting idiom to refer to “older” orphans, “Diknanei”, meaning they have beards. Rashi adds, “They are no longer considered orphans.”  What does Rashi mean?  A beard does not add or detract from the status of an orphan!   To understand this, we need to appreciate the special status that orphans occupy in halacha and Jewish ethics.  There are specific proh …
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Shear Profit Bava Metzia 69 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 7th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses an interesting economic and psychological scenario regarding partnership versus working as a subcontractor on commission. As we shall soon see, psychology and economics can be heavily intertwined. In our Gemara, due to certain halachic technicalities of usury, a person who enters into 50/50 financial partnership in raising an animal, actually makes out with less profit than if the owner of the animal had contrac …
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Speech is Not Free At All Bava Metzia 68 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
May 6th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph references an incident whereby Rav Ashi raised a hypothetical question, which involved a halachic dimension of a student’s inheritance, Mar son of Ameimar. The power of Rav Ashi’s words were so great, that his mere mention of Ameimar’s possible death somehow induced his actual death.   Our tradition, among many ancient traditions of the world, believes that words have extraordinary power to create a …
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Humility or Lack of vulnerability? Bava Metzia 67 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses a practice that was technically not usury, but the Talmud ruled that rabbis should abstain from it nonetheless, because they should behave according to a higher standard. The Gemara records that Ravina did not abstain from this practice and stuck with the letter of the law. Tosafos (ibid) wonders about this, and Rabbenu Tam suggests that thiswas due to Ravina’s humility in that he did not want to portray hi …
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Mind Reader or Emotion Reader? Bava Metzia 66 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the implications of a person who appears calm but perhaps he is not. The Gemara sometimes rules that a verbal commitment is binding as there is a clear indication of serious intent, while other times we assume he was under some kind of duress and offered an empty verbal assurance but made no kinyan (physical act of transfer or acquisition) to solidify the transaction. The actual halachos are complex however we wi …
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Extra Credit in Mitzvos Bava Metzia 65 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the legal technicalities of whether a rental or hire incurs financial obligation from commencement, or only at the end, when the rental or work contract is completed. Halachically this has implications for whether advance payment at a discount is considered charging interest or not. The halacha is that the obligation to pay a rental fee is incurred only at the end of the rental period.  The Chida (Midbar Kd …
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Profiting from the Prophets Bava Metzia 64 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph uses the Hebrew word “Sachar” to describe the potential and likelihood for profit versus loss that one can achieve in a business venture. If he is a silent partner with another by contributing the funds and the other contributes the business efforts, whether it is categorized as charging interest via the profit or merely being in a partnership depends on many factors, including that there is equal or greater l …
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The Illusion of Control Bava Metzia 63 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis conceptualizes the prohibition of charging interest as any financial compensation that is an incentive for the lender to delay payment of his debt. In essence, time is money, and the charging of interest is an enactment of the value that having access to money at one time over another brings profit. Assuming that the rate of interest is not exploitative, the Torah asks us to run against a normal instinct to manage money wi …
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A Life Worth Living Bava Metzia 62 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud aleph discusses the famous moral dilemma of a circumstance where you must choose between another person’s survival or your own survival, such as you are in the desert with another person, and only have enough water for one person to survive.  Ben Petora taught: It is preferable that both of them drink and die, and let neither one of them see the death of the other. Until Rabbi Akiva came and taught that the verse sta …
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Hitting Bottom Bava Metzia 61 Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses textual and theological parallels between the prohibition of charging interest, the commandment of wearing Tzitzis and maintaining honest weights and measures in commerce. Rava says: Why do I need the mention of the exodus from Egypt that the Merciful One wrote in the context of the halachos of the prohibition against interest (see Leviticus 25:37–38), and the mention of the exodus from Egypt w …
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Beautifying or Deceiving? Bava Metzia 60 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 28th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph discusses deceitful business practices, such as feeding an animal in a certain way to make it temporarily appear more robust than it actually is, or grooming a slave and dyeing his hair so he will appear younger.  Rav Yaakov Emden (Hagahos Ya’avetz, ibid) discusses if it is permitted for a woman of marriageable age to adorn herself with make-up and other cosmetics to appear pretty, and rules that it is permitte …
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An Absorbent Jew Bava Metzia 59 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud beis discusses the ways in which Dovid Hamelech was verbally tormented by his critics:   They torment me to the extent that even at the time when they are engaged in the public study of the halachos of leprous sores and tents in which there is a corpse, they say to me: David, one who engages in adultery, what form of execution do they give him? And I say to them: An adulterer who commits this sin with a married woman befor …
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Inconvenient Truths Bava Metzia 58 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 26th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis gives examples of hurtful speech that taunts and belittles:   If one is a penitent, another may not say to him: Remember your earlier deeds. If one is the child of converts, another may not say to him: Remember the deeds of your ancestors. If one is a convert and he came to study Torah, one may not say to him: Does the mouth that ate unslaughtered carcasses and repugnant creatures, and creeping animals, comes to study …
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You Made the Wine, I Just Made the Grapes Bava Metzia 57 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 25th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis rules that the oath and various other obligations of a watchman are not applicable when it is an item that belongs to the Temple treasury. The verse states, “His peer” (Shemos 22:6) , which excludes something belonging to the sacred coffers.    Ohr Hachaim (ibid) offers a metaphysical-legal explanation. There is a well known exemption from obligations of the watchmen or borrower when we consider the o …
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Unconscious Communication Bava Metzia 56 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 24th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph uses a scriptural derivation and comparison between real estate and Canaanite slaves. Just as the regular laws of overcharging or undercharging do not apply to real estate, so too, in regard to slaves, they do not apply.   Rav Yonasan Eibshutz (Yaaros Devash 1:17) uses this ruling to explain a deeper idea behind Esther’s plea to Achashverosh (Esther 7:4):   Had we only been sold as slaves, I would have kep …
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For Morality there is no Threshold Bava Metzia 55 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 23rd, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph teaches that ordinarily sums of money below a perutah are not legally pursuable, such as theft of less than a perutah.  Yet, when it comes to the Temple treasury, one must pay restitution for even less than a perutah.   Yismach Moshe (Mattos 6:2) uses this idea to explain why a gentile who steals from a Jew even less than a perutah is still held liable. The reason why theft of less than a perutah is not legally …
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Torah Prerequisites Bava Metzia 54 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 22nd, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis makes a derivation from the word, “veyassaf - he will add”, that the ⅕ penalty for redeeming a consecrated object applies even to a situation of ⅕ on ⅕. This occurs in a case where a consecrated item is redeemed with another consecrated item (now with an additional ⅕). If this item is to be redeemed, he must now add a ⅕ onto this new item, which is effectively ⅕ on ⅕.   Gilyonei Shas (Yevamos …
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All in a Day’s Work Bava Metzia 53 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 21st, 2024

Our gemara on amud aleph discusses the well-known halachic principle, that even though often a prohibited item can be nullified in a majority or mixture of 60 times, an item whose prohibition can become permitted at some point in time, is not negated or nullified even if it is in a mixture with one thousand permitted parts.     The phrase “even a thousand times”, is not literal. It means in any amount, so to speak, even …
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The Psychology of Misers Bava Metzia 52 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 19th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud aleph describes a person who refuses to accept a slightly eroded coin as a “nefesh ra’ah” - “an evil soul.”  What does this term mean?  The term “ayin ra’ah” connotes stinginess, for example see Bechoros 11a.  The Maharal relates “nefesh ra’ah” with “ayin ra’ah”, except that ”nefesh ra’ah” is the inner manifestat …
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If You See Something, Say Something Bava Metzia 51 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 19th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph tells us an anecdote where Rami Bar Chamah noticed that his landlord appeared sad. He inquired of him, and ended up hearing about a mistake he made in business, and was able to offer him halachic guidance.   Noticing that a person is sad is an important factor in emotional intelligence. Being attuned enough to notice a person’s face or other subtle expressions allows for important opportunities to assist a pers …
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The Goldilocks Equation Bava Metzia 50 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 18th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses the laws of fraudulent overcharging:   Rava said: The Halacha is that if the disparity in actual value versus amount paid is less than one-sixth, the merchandise is acquired immediately. If the disparity is greater than one-sixth, either party can demand nullification of the transaction. If the disparity is precisely one-sixth, the buyer has acquired the merchandise, and the one who benefited from the exploi …
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The Honest Weigh to Go Bava Metzia 49 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 17th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses further the importance of keeping one’s word and honoring verbal agreements:   The verse states: “You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin.״ But wasn’t a hin included in an ephah, why is it necessary to state both measures? Rather, this is an allusion that serves to say to you that your “yes” (“hen” or “hin” m …
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Flood Assurance Bava Metzia 48 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 16th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses a particular curse that befalls one who reneges on a transaction after money was exchanged. We have learned that exchange of money alone does not accomplish acquisition without the physical object being moved or lifted. Therefore, even though technically no transfer was completed yet, and legally he can stop the process, it is an ethical violation by going back on his word after the giving and accepting of payme …
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The Clothes Make the Man Bava Metzia 47 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 15th, 2024

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph quotes the scriptural source for the chalifin acquisition, whereby transfer of possession is confirmed via exchange of an object, also known as kinyan sudar. In Megillas Rus, Boaz acquires the rights to the field from Plony Almoni and also presumably secures his agreement that he will marry Elimelech’s (their relative) former daughter-in-law, Rus (Rus 4:7):   Now this was an ancient custom done in Israel in cas …
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Special Eclipse Edition Psychology of the Daf
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 8th, 2024

Eclipses and Torah Thought Psychology of the Daf, Special Edition The Gemara Succah (29a) states: ⁦When the sun is eclipsed it is a bad omen for the entire world. The Gemara tells a parable. To what is this matter comparable? It is comparable to a king of flesh and blood who prepared a feast for his servants and placed a lantern [panas] before them to illuminate the hall. He became angry at them and said to his servant: Take the lantern from be …
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You Really Can’t Take it With You Bava Metzia 46 Psychology of the Daf Yomi
Author: Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
April 14th, 2024

Our Gemara on amud beis rules that according to Rabbi Yochanan, by Torah law, money effects acquisition. It is only a rabbinic mercantile protection that required an additional physical acquisition beyond payment for material objects, as the seller might be negligent of the merchandise, while it is still in his possession, since it was fully acquired now by the purchaser. Therefore, the rabbis enacted a protective measure that ownership does not …
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