THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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Bava Metzia, 112
BAVA METZIA 112-115 - these Dafim have been dedicated anonymously l'Iluy
Nishmas Tzirel Nechamah bas Tuvya Yehudah.
1) WITHHOLDING THE WAGES OF A CRAFTSMAN
QUESTION: The Gemara says that according to the opinion which holds that a
craftsman ("Uman") does *not* acquire the value of the improvements that he
makes to an object given to him to work on, the craftsman is considered a
hired worker and the laws of "Bal Talin" apply. Consequently, if the owner
of the object does not pay the craftsman on time (when he finishes the
work), he transgresses the Isur of "Bal Talin."
The RITVA in Kidushin (48a, DH Hacha) asks that the Isur of "Bal Talin"
should *not* apply to withholding the wages of a craftsman. If an employer
gives an object as a "Mashkon" (security) to the craftsman, the laws of "Bal
Talin" would not take effect (since the Mashkon will serve as the payment,
and thus the craftsman will have received his payment on time). Even though
the craftsman does not acquire a share in the object when he improves it,
the object itself, though is considered to be a Mashkon in the hands of the
craftsman, as the Gemara earlier (80b) teaches ("a craftsman holds the
object in order to collect his wages")! Since the craftsman is holding a
Mashkon, there should be no Isur of "Bal Talin!"
ANSWER: The RITVA and RAN answer that giving the craftsman a Mashkon avoids
the problem of "Bal Talin" only when it is given directly from the employer
to the craftsman with the express intent that the object be security for the
payment that the employer owes. When it is given in this manner, the worker
acquires the Mashkon in accordance with the ruling of Rebbi Yitzchak ("Bal
Chov Koneh Mashkon"). In the case of our Gemara, though, where the craftsman
is holding the object as collateral on his own accord (without the explicit
consent of the owner), he does *not* acquire it, and therefore the laws of
"Bal Talin" apply.
The KETZOS HA'CHOSHEN (72:23) raises an objection to the question of the
Ritva. Our Gemara states that the employer transgresses "Bal Talin" only
after the object has already been returned, for it is at the moment that the
object is returned that the employer becomes obligated to pay the craftsman.
At that moment, though, the worker is no longer holding the Mashkon, and
thus "Bal Talin" *does* apply! How, then, does the Ritva prove that a
craftsman does not acquire the object as a Mashkon? Perhaps he does acquire
it, but the laws of "Bal Talin" still apply because only when the craftsman
gives the object back does the employer's obligation to pay the craftsman
take effect (at which time there is no longer a Mashkon)!
The Ketzos ha'Choshen answers that if the worker acquires the object as a
Mashkon, then even after he rights the object to the owner, the laws of "Bal
Talin" would *not* apply. Since he acquired the object as a Mashkon while he
was holding it, when he returns it to the owner it is considered a *sale*
(and the owner owes him money for the purchase of the object). Since the
payment that the owner owes the craftsman is the purchase money, and not the
wages of a hired worker, "Bal Talin" does not apply (just as it does not
apply according to the opinion which holds that a craftsman acquires a share
in the object that he works on). The fact that "Bal Talin" applies after the
object is returned shows that the craftsman does not acquire the object as a
Mashkon in the manner of "Ba'al Chov Koneh Mashkon," as the Ritva answers.
2) COLLECTING A DEBT WHEN ONE IS HOLDING COLLATERAL
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that a creditor who is holding an object as
collateral may collect from the debtor without bringing any evidence, since,
if he wanted, he could claim that the object of collateral belongs to him.
In such a case, though, does he need to make a Shevu'ah before collecting
Generally, in all cases of "Nishba v'Notel" (where one is entitled to
collect money based merely on his word; the Mishnah in Shevuos (7:1) gives a
list of such cases), one is obligated to make a Shevu'ah before collecting
the money or object. The RAMBAM (Hilchos Malveh v'Loveh 13:3) cites the
GE'ONIM who explain that when a creditor is holding an object of collateral
and is claiming a debt equivalent to the value of the collateral -- although
he is entitled to collect based on a "Migo" that he could have claimed that
the object of collateral belongs to him, he must make a Shevu'ah ("Nishba
v'Notel") in order to collect. The Ge'onim are teaching that even though the
creditor is holding the object of collateral, we do not consider the
creditor to be "Muchzak" (in which case he would not have to swear). Rather,
since he is claiming *other* money (the money of the debt) and not the
collateral itself, he is not considered to be "Muchzak" and thus he must
swear before he may collect the money.
The RAMBAN (cited by the Ran in Shevuos, page 27a of the pages of the Rif)
questions the ruling of the Ge'onim from the Beraisa quoted in our Gemara.
The Beraisa says that when a craftsman claims that his salary was fixed at
two Zuz, while the employer claims that it was fixed at one Zuz, if the
craftsman is in possession of the object, then his claim prevails." This
Beraisa is quoted in greater detail in Bava Basra (45b), where it says, "As
long as the object is in the hands of the craftsman, his claim prevails, but
once the employer has received the object, his claim prevails, on condition
that he swears first." Since the Beraisa states that only when the object
has been returned to the employer must he make a Shevu'ah in order to
support his claim, this implies that in the Reisha, when the craftsman is
holding the object, the craftsman does *not* have to make a Shevu'ah. This
seems to contradict the ruling of the Ge'onim who say that a claimant who is
collecting must make a Shevu'ah in though he is holding an object of
(a) The RAMBAN points out that according to the opinion which holds that a
"craftsman acquires the value of the improvements that he makes to the
object" that he works on ("Uman Koneh b'Shevach Kli"), there is no question
on the Ge'onim. The Ge'onim were discussing a case in which the creditor is
merely holding an object of collateral (and he is thus considered to be the
one who is trying to be "Motzi" from the other person). A craftsman, in
contrast, owns part of the object, and thus he is considered "Muchzak" and
is not obligated to swear to support his claim. This answer, though, does
not address the question according to the opinion which holds that a
craftsman does *not* acquire the value of the improvements that he makes to
(b) The RAN (loc. cit.) offers a different answer. Whether or not the
creditor or craftsman needs to swear depends on what he is claiming. When
the creditor is demanding payment, he is considered to be one who is "Motzi"
money from the other and in such a case the Ge'onim obligate him to swear.
The Beraisa case is referring to a craftsman who is not demanding payment.
Rather, he is threatening the employer and saying that if he does not
receive the salary upon which they agreed, then he will not return the
object. He assumes that the owner will consent and pay him the salary that
he claims to deserve. In such a case he is not obligated to swear. (Y.