Ready for a different Seder night?
Do you want the conversation to soar?
Weekly Jewish Wisdom
March 30, 2017
A Tree Grows in Babylonia
Last week, in the daily Talmud cycle, we studied one of my favorite stories. I have to share it. The Talmudic discussions on these pages are steeped in questions about ownership of property and the nature of public and private domains and the responsibility individuals have for the safety of public and semi-private areas. So far, this is interesting mostly for lawyers and property developers. Maybe not even. It can run a bit dry.
Suddenly we stumble on a wonderful story with legal consequences, which I will paraphrase, adding to the translation only words that are missing from the elliptical nature of any Talmud text:
"Rabbi Yannai has a tree that was leaning into the public thoroughfare. There was another man who had a tree that was leaning into the public space. The people there demanded that he take care of it. He came before Rabbi Yannai, who said to him "Go now and come back tomorrow. At night, Rabbi Yannai sent for a person to cut down his own tree. The next day, the man returned, and Rabbi Yannai said to him, 'Go cut down your tree.' He replied, 'But the Master also has such a tree.' 'Go and see. If mine is cut down, cut down yours. If mine is not cut down, you do not have to cut down yours.'"
Tweets on the Today's Page of Talmud (Daf Yomi)
"The dichotomy between personal liberties and property rights is...false...Property does not have rights. People have rights," P. Stewart
Bava Batra 67b: "One who sells a bathhouse has not sold its boards, basins or curtains." When selling property, the moveables don't convey.
“The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing," Joshua Harris.
Bava Batra 66b: "Do not raise this dilemma...When should you raise this dilemma?" In an argument, timing is everything.
"One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory," Rita Mae Brown.
Bava Batra 65b: "One who sells a house has sold the door, the door bolt and the lock but not the key." So how does one get through the door?