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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Bava Basra 161

BAVA BASRA 161 - sponsored by Alex and Helen Gross of Rechavya, Jerusalem, builders of a home molded by dedication to Torah and Torah study. May the Torah always protect them and their family!



(a) The problem with Rebbi Yirmiyah bar Aba, who holds that the witnesses sign at the back of the writing, and 'Sh'rir ve'Kayam' is therefore not necessary is - that there is nothing to stop the Ba'al ha'Sh'tar from adding more lines (and more witnesses) to the Sh'tar?

(b) According to Rabeinu Chananel's version of the Kashya, we only ask - about the Ba'al ha'Sh'tar adding more lines, on the pretext that he intended to add more witnesses, but did not yet manage to do so (though it is not then clear what he stands to gain by adding more lines without witnesses).

(c) In order to dispense with this Kashya, the witness must have signed - up the page (beginning at the end of the Sh'tar and signing upwards) and not across (parallel to the writing).

(a) We then suspect that, assuming the Sh'tar ended with a clause that detracts from his claim - the Ba'al ha'Sh'tar might cut off the bottom line, together with his name Reuven, leaving only 'ben Ya'akov Eid' ...

(b) ... which is acceptable as a signature, as we learned in a Mishnah in Gitin.

(a) We answer the previous Kashya - by establishing that he must sign 'Reuven ben' in one line (meaning 'ben' underneath 'Reuven', bearing in mind that he is signing up the page), and 'Ya'akov Eid' above it (higher up on the Sh'tar).

(b) And we ...

1. ... circumvent the fear that he will then cut off 'Reuven ben' together with the last line, leaving 'Ya'akov Eid' - by forcing him to omit the word 'Eid' (and one name without 'Eid' is not an acceptable signature).
2. ... answer this Kashya, even assuming that he does insert 'Eid' in the Sh'tar - by pointing out that this is not the signature of Ya'akov, in which case, he will anyway be unable to substantiate it when he is asked to do so, and there is nothing to fear.
(c) Neither do we need contend with the possibility that perhaps Reuven signed in his father's name - because a person does not tend to relinquish his own name and use his father's.
(a) Rav would sign documents using the symbol of a fish, and Rebbi Chanina using date-palms. The symbols used by Rav Chisda and Rav Hoshaya (a 'Samech' and 'Ayin' respectively) - were both letters of their names.

(b) Rabah bar Rav Huna used - a ship's mast.

(c) Reuven ben Ya'akov however, would not have used 'ben Ya'akov' as a symbol for his signature - because he would not have the Chutzpah to do such a thing.




(a) Mar Zutra disagree with Rebbi Yirmiyah bar Aba's latter answers to the various Kashyos (even though he does agree with him on principle in his dispute with Rav Huna) - because he considers them pushed.

(b) According to him, we are not afraid that the Ba'al ha'Sh'tar will cut off the last line of the Sh'tar together with 'Reuven' - because he maintains that all the witnesses sign up the page beginning from the last line or down the page ending at the last line (depending on whether they sign in Lashon ha'Kodesh or in a different language). Consequently, it will not be possible to cut out Reuven without cutting out some letters of the other signatures as well.

(a) Despite the fact that Rebbi Yirmiyah bar Aba answers all the Kashyos that he is asked, we are forced to rule like Rav Huna because of the opinion of Rebbi Chanina ben Gamliel in our Mishnah. Now, according to Rebbi Yirmiyah bar Aba, who holds that the witnesses on a Sh'tar Mekushar sign up the page, how can a Mekushar possibly become a Pashut?

(b) It is not however, possible according to Rav Huna, for a Pashut whose witnesses signed on the outside of the Sh'tar to be Kasher, on the grounds that one could transform it into a Mekushar - because, seeing as a Pashut requires only two witnesses, and a Mekushar, three, this is not in fact, correct.

7) Rebbi Yitzchak Amar Rebbi Yochanan rules - that erasures in a Sh'tar (provided they are not in the location where 'Sh'rir ve'Kayam' might have been) must be substantiated at the end of the Sh'tar (before 'Sh'rir ve'Kayam').


(a) And when Rebbi Yitzchak says that the contents of the Sh'tar must be repeated in the last line - he means that whatever appears on the last line must be a repetition of the Sh'tar, and not something new ...

(b) ... because of the principle not to learn anything from the last line (as we shall see shortly), in which case that clause will only be ignored.

(c) One therefore only inserts in the last line - something that already appeared earlier in the Sh'tar (as we just explained).

(d) The reason for this Takanah is - because the witnesses cannot sign immediately next to the writing on the Sh'tar, in which case the space in between, would only serve as an opportunity for the claimant to add a clause of his own.

9) The latter Halachah will not apply however, in a Sh'tar which contains 'Sh'rir ve'Kayam', which in any event, negates any chances of the Ba'al ha'Sh'tar adding anything to the text.

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