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"Zeke, we have been neighbors for a long time."
"Yes, Ray. We own two homes that open onto one big yard. We have shared this yard all these years. Our children play out here, our wives hang laundry out here, and we also use the yard to do things that we cannot do in the house."
"It is really a good arrangement, Ray."
"I am happy that you feel that way, Zeke. However, I have reached a point where I need more privacy. Therefore, I am informing you that I am terminating our partnership in this yard. We will draw a line down the middle, my half will become exclusively mine, and your half will be yours. In addition to that, to assure that we will not be able to see each other, I am building a wall of stone four amos (cubits) high right on the dividing line. You will have to give half of the land space for the thickness of the wall, and half of the costs of the material and labor to build the wall."
"What? Divide the yard? Build a wall? I don't agree to any of this. Things are just fine the way they are. You can't get away with this!"
The question is:
Can Ray divide the yard, and force Zeke to pay for half the wall against his will?
The answer is:
This case is discussed in the Gemora (Bava Basra 2a, 2b, 3a, and 11a). One partner may dissolve the partnership and divide the yard, even against the will of the other partner. The stipulation is that each one must be left with an area of at least four ammos square after the division. Additionally, we poskin that making the other person uncomfortable by looking into his private property is considered damage. Therefore, one partner can obligate the other to share in the land and the expenses required to build a wall of four amos to prevent this visual damage.
This puzzle and answer is for learning and discussion purposes only. Do not rely upon it for psak halacha! Consult a Rav to determine the correct halachic ruling.
"Can you please pass the potatoes?"
"My pleasure dear. They are delicious. I really enjoy our family dinners together."
"So do we, Abba."
Knock, knock. All of the children stop eating and run to answer the front door. They find the neighbor's son smiling in the hallway.
"My Abba would like to borrow your hammer, Mr. Zarein."
The Abba becomes instantly upset. "Why can't the neighbor buy his own hammer?" he thought. "Why should I lend him mine? I bought it with my money and it is for me and only me to use."
"Tell your Abba that I cannot lend it to him. Perhaps some other time."
The children are a bit disappointed. They would like to have seen the mitzvah of lending the neighbor something that he needs. A few days later, another neighbor knocks on the door.
"My Imma would like to borrow your flour sifter, Mr. Zarein."
"I am sorry. It is not available."
"Why are these neighbors always borrowing things?" thought Mr. Zarein. "Can't they just leave me alone to enjoy the privacy of my home and my possessions?"
A few days later, Mr. Zarein was relaxing in his home, looking at the beautifully painted walls. He noticed that one wall was beginning to look a little moldy. There was a small patch of green that was recessed into the wall.
"I must find the source of this discoloration and fix it," he thought to himself. "I don't want anything to ruin my beautiful house."
Mr. Zarein tried scraping, plastering and painting, but the greenish spot would not go away. In fact, it was getting worse. He became so desperate, that he actually called one of the neighbors in to look at it.
"Perhaps you should call the Kohen, Mr. Zarein."
"Is he an expert in home repairs?"
"No. However, he is an expert in tsoraas battim (a plague on the home). He can tell you if this green spot is a physical problem or a spiritual one."
"I never thought about that. Thank you very much, Nochum."
And so, Mr. Zarein called the Kohen. Sure enough, the problem was a spiritual one - tsoraas battim.
"Mr. Zarein, I'm afraid that your house is tomei (impure) due to this tsoraas battim."
"Oy vey, my beautiful home is defiled. What did I do to deserve this?"
"If you are seriously ready to do teshuva (correct your ways) I will tell you what our sages say about this problem."
"I am ready, Mr. Kohen."
"Tsoraas battim is brought on by tsar ayin - stinginess. People who refuse to lend things that they are able to are called tsar ayin. They deny others the pleasure of use of their belongings."*
"I know that I am guilty of that, but I feel justified."
"Because the kelim are mine. I bought them with my own money."
"Mr. Zarein, please allow me to correct you. You did not buy your sadeh achuza (inherited homestead) here in Eretz Yisrael. Hashem gave the land to Yehoshua via miraculous conquests. He distributed it to all of Klal Yisrael, including your family. It, along with all of the parnassa (livelihood) that you made from it and all of the kelim (household items) that you bought are from The Almighty. He gave you a beautiful home filled with good things in order to test you. Will you share with others? Or will you say, 'My strength and the power of my hand amassed this wealth for me' (Devarim 8:17). One who shares earns the reward reserved for those who occupy themselves with the mitzvah of gemilus chassadim (performing acts of kindness). Those who do not share with others the good things that Hashem gave them get tsoraas battim."
"Oy vey, what have I done to myself and my beautiful home?"
"There is no need to worry Mr. Zarein. We will follow the taharah (purification) process for your house. And we can help you do teshuva to purify your neshama (soul)."
"I am ready. Thank you very much Mr. Kohen."
"Mr. Zarein, may Hashem help us all become the best gomlei chassadim possible."
Kinderlach . . .
Our sages summed it all up in one sentence, "What is mine is yours and what is yours is yours" (Pirkei Avos 5:10). Lend your things to others. They may not be able to buy them. Or they may own the keli, but it is misplaced, broken, or on loan. Whatever the reason, they need to borrow from you. Lend to them! Perform a big chessed. Share Hashem's kelim with His other children. You will help the other person, get a big mitzvah for yourself, and give Our Father in Heaven lots of nachas.
*(See the Keli Yakar on verse 14:34 for further explanation.)
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