Wednesday, March 17, 2010

the shiur of bal yera'eh (II)

We left off earlier this week with the question of why the shiur for bal yera’eh is a k’zayis. Rashi (Sukkah 27b) writes that there cannot be a partnership created with shares worth less than a perutah in value, implying that there is no concept of ownership on such a small stake. If so, even if a piece of chameitz is larger than a k’zayis, so long as its value is less than a perutah, one is not considered its owner and should not be in violation of bal yera’eh.

Anonymous was mechavein to R’ Scheinberg’s first answer, namely that at least some Rishonim see bal yera’eh as a safeguard against eating chameitz. Therefore, the shiur for bal yera’eh is k’zayis, the same as the shiur of the issur of achilas chameitz, not the shiur of perutah used to define ownership.

A second answer given by Rav Scheinberg makes use of a chiddush the gemara says with regard to chameitz and bor b’reshus harabim. The gemara writes that in reality one does not own a bor b’reshus harabim or chameitz on Pesach (what can you do with issurei hana’ah?); nonetheless, the Torah makes one liable for digging the bor in the public domain and for chameitz in one’s home. The fact that chameitz has no value because it is worth less than a pertuah has no more effect than the more general statement that chameitz lacks value on Pesach because one cannot eat it or possess it – nonetheless, one violates bal yera’eh for having it around.

I am not sure I fully grasp this answer. Even granted that chameitz potentially worth $100 and chameitz worth less than a penny is all the same once Pesach arrives, why does that mean we should evaluate bal yera’eh using a shiur of k’zayis? Why not just treat the chameitz as if ownership did theoretically exist and use the standard of perutah?

My son and I both thought that there is another way to resolve this question. Who says bal yera’eh has anything to do with ownership? I can violate bal yera’eh even for keeping the chameitz of a non-Jew in my home, so long as I am responsible if it is lost or stolen (there are technical details here that I am not getting involved in now.) Once we are dealing with an issue that does not depend directly on ownership, but on responsibility, the chiddush of Rashi in Sukkah does not apply.

Further thoughts on this question to come bl"n… stay tuned.


  1. The only issue you can kler is whether ba'alus stems from achrayus, a la davar hagorem le'mamon, or achrayus stems from ba'alus, in the sense that you've taken it and you have a chiyuv hashava. But certainly achrayus is just another way of saying shelcha. It's definitely a din in ba'alus.

    BUT, ba'alus is a siman, not a sibah. Which chametz are you over for a kezayis? Chametz that's yours. If the reason it's not 'yours' is because it's pachos mishava pruta, that doesn't matter. Since ba'alus is a siman and not a sibbah, for chametz purposes, all we care is "if it were a shava pruta, would it be yours."

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  3. Eliezer3:06 PM

    Perhaps R. Scheinberg's second answer means as follows: there is a shiur for the issur bal yera'eh of chametz on Pesach. Chametz on Pesach can take on the characteristics of a shiur in one of two different ways - as a material object, or as an entity with the special designation of "chametz" with regard to Pesach. From the gemara about issur hana'ah, it is clear that its characteristic cannot be as a material object. Therefore, the shiur of perutah does not apply, since perutah is a shiur in the realm of material objects. The only thing left, then, is the special designation of "chametz" which draws its identity from the issur acheelah, whose shiur is kazayis. Now in terms of the how one violates the issur if his ownership share is less than a perutah - that is what the gemara means - your "possession" of the object, i.e., your control over it, is what makes you violate the issur, not technical ba'alus. This is what the gemara means when it says "asa'uhu hakasuv ke-ilu birshuso."

  4. Sorry for chiming in with this late, so maybe the point was hit already, but...

    Shutfus is a matter of baalus. There is no baalus by issurei hana'ah -- e.g. IIRC someone who was oveir bal yeira'eh who was niftar on Pesach does not actually leave the chameitz to his yoreshim.

    Thus, bal yeira'eh is a totally different concept of ownership than the usual baalus.

    So how can we draw conclusions from shituf?

    As for baalus being from achrayus -- qinyan establishes both baalus and achrayus (eg the one I'm about to do to appoint my rav my shaliach to sell chameitz). Did I say that already? If so, sorry.


  5. >>>But certainly achrayus is just another way of saying shelcha.

    I disagree. A shomeir has acharayus, but if you ask who owns the object, the answer is the mafkid does.

    >>>There is no baalus by issurei hana'ah

    That's why the gemara comes onto the chiddush of "as'o hakasuv k'iliu hu b'reshusho". The case of someone dying in the middle of pesach is different because the yorshim have an active interest in declaring it not b'reshusham (just like kol chamira, which is not a din hefker but simply a protest against the k'ilu b'reshuso, as explained by the Ran).

    Eliezer, could be that's what R' Scheinberg meant.

  6. anon19:28 AM


    not sure I get your answer -- you just prove that ba'al yereah may not be a din on ba'alus but rather achrayus -- so it may not be taluy on a shiur of a perutah. But even if it is a din of achrayus alone, why would think it is a shiur of a kezayis (assuming you do not tie to the issur achilah in any way -- which was R'Schienberg's answer)? The rule of kezayis is only by achilah. Maybe the shiur is bemasheu -- the shomer is responsible to return every masheu of a pikadon (assur ligzol kol sheu dvar torah). Or perhaps even if it is achrayus, you focus on the minimum enforceable amount of achrayus which again would be a shaveh perutah. But without the issur achilah, where does kezayis come from?

  7. Anon1, You can't ask my own question against me : )
    Unless I'm misunderstanding, you're asking on me the same question I raised on R' Scheinberg's second answer -- Eliezer tried to field it in the comments above.

  8. Yochi4:09 PM

    What do you mean "tried"? I thought his explanation was perfectly logical.

  9. Yochi - this is a blog, not a Rashi; don't read too much into every word. The use of "tried" was not meant to knock Eliezer's sevara.