Shabbat Parashat R'ei | 5769
Hemdat HaDaf HaYomi: The Right of the Bordering NeighborRav Ofer Livnat
This week in the Daf Hayomi, the Gemara (108) states that, when a person sells a field, the adjacent field owner (=bar metzra) is given precedence on the purchase of the field. Even if one already sold his field, the bar metzra can dismiss the buyer and purchase the field for himself. This Halacha is based on the commandment "thou shalt do that which is right and good" (Devarim 6, 18). Thus, even though a person may sell his field to anyone he chooses, the Sages ruled that it is proper that the bar metzra proceed anyone else, since it would be of great benefit to him to own the field adjacent to his.
As mentioned, the Gemara stated this law regarding fields. The Rishonim discuss whether this Halacha is applicable in other areas. The opinion of Rabeinu Tam (Tosafot 108b d"h Ara'a), is that there is no law of bar metzra on houses. His reasoning is that, only for a field, where a person can combine the two fields into one and work them together, did the Sages institute the Halacha of bar metzra.
However, the opinion of most of the Rishonim (quoted by the Tur and Beit Yosef Choshen Mishpat 175:81), is that the bar metzra is given precedence for houses as well. Their reasoning is that, for houses too, it is possible that a person will have use for an adjacent house or apartment, or that he could enlarge his house by connecting it to the adjacent one.
Another situation that the Rishonim deal with is that of seats in a shul. It was once customary that people would buy the seats in the shul, and a person could sell his seat to someone else. The question arose whether the person with the adjacent seat has priority on the purchase of the seat. The opinion of the Ra'avad (quoted by the Tur 175, 85) is that, if the seat is on a crowded bench, the rest of the bench owners can buy his seat so that they will have more space. However, if this is not the case, the adjacent seat owner does not have priority over someone else. The Beit Yosef explains that the Ra'avad's reasoning is that, if one already has a seat, he does not need a second one.
However, other Rishonim write that, in any case, the bar metzra has the first right to purchase the adjacent seat, and the Shulchan Aruch (ibid) accepts their opinion. The Pitchei Teshuvah (ibid 23) explains that a person wants his family members to sit next to him in shul, and therefore the law of bar metzra is applicable here as well. According to this reasoning, there are those who wrote (Mishpetecha Leya'ackov 2, 16) that for graves too, family members have first right to purchase the grave next to where one of their relatives is buried, since family members want to be buried next to each other.
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The Eretz Hemdah family expresses its condolences to
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.
Hemdat Yamim of this week
is dedicated in memory of
Yitzchak Eizik Usdan ben Yehuda Leib a"h,
whose Yahrtzeit is the 29th of Av