1) WHEN THE "SHECHIV MERA" REMEMBERS THAT HE PAID
OPINIONS: Rava gives guidelines for the law in the case of a Shechiv Mera who reveals that he owes money to certain people, and for the different claims his heirs might present to those people. If the Shechiv Mera tells his heirs that he owes someone a Maneh (100 Zuz), the heirs are believed to say that "he told us afterward that he had already paid that debt." If the Shechiv Mera instructs his heirs to "give" a Maneh to someone, his heirs are not believed to say that he already paid back that debt, because the word "give" is a strong terminology which the Shechiv Mera would use only if he had not yet paid his creditor.
Earlier in the Gemara (174b), Rav and Shmuel state that when someone says merely that he owes a Maneh to someone, after he dies the heirs do not have to pay. This is because a dying man sometimes will pretend that he owes someone money so that people will not give an Ayin ha'Ra to his heirs, who are about to inherit his fortune. If he says "give" a Maneh to someone (to whom he owes money), the heirs must do so. This implies that Rav and Shmuel disagree with Rava, because Rava implies that the heirs have no obligation to give the Maneh only when they claim that the Shechiv Mera later recalled that he had paid the creditor. Does Rava indeed argue with Rav and Shmuel?
(a) The RIF explains that Rava is discussing a different case than that of Rav and Shmuel. In Rava's case, the Shechiv Mera says in a manner of admission that he owes money. In Rav and Shmuel's case, the Shechiv Mera does not speak in a manner of admission. What is the meaning of a "manner of admission"?
1. The NIMUKEI YOSEF explains that Rava is discussing a case in which the Shechiv Mera said, "I admit that I owe a certain person money." This implies that his intent is to make an honest confession, and not an attempt to protect his children from an Ayin ha'Ra. Rav and Shmuel are discussing a case in which the Shechiv Mera merely exclaims that he owes someone a Maneh.
The Nimukei Yosef adds that there is a precedent that such a subtle change in wording and attitude affects the Halachah. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (30a) states that when children saw their father hide some money, and he told them that "the money belongs to someone else" or that "it is money of Ma'aser Sheni," they may determine the real status of the money from his attitude. If he is merely being careful to protect the money, he indeed might be watching it for someone else, or guarding money of Ma'aser Sheni. If he hides it in a devious-looking manner, they may assume that the money belongs to him, and they inherit it after his death.
2. The ROSH understands the Rif differently. He understands that Rava is discussing a case in which the Shechiv Mera was confronted by someone who said that the Shechiv Mera owed him money. When he admits that he indeed owes money to the claimant, his admission clearly has nothing to do with any attempt to prevent his children from an Ayin ha'Ra. In contrast, Rav and Shmuel are discussing a case in which he volunteered this information without anyone claiming any money from him. Such an admission is likely motivated by his desire to protect his children from an Ayin ha'Ra.
(b) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR explains that Rava indeed argues with Rav and Shmuel. He cites many proofs that the Halachah does not follow the view of Rav and Shmuel, and therefore Rava's argument with them is justified. (The RAMBAN in MILCHAMOS refutes the proofs of the Ba'al ha'Me'or at length.) (Y. MONTROSE)
2) AGADAH: ONE WHO SEEKS TO BECOME WISE SHOULD LEARN MONETARY LAW
QUESTION: The Mishnayos of Bava Basra conclude with Rebbi Yishmael's statement that one who seeks to become wise should learn "Dinei Mamonos," monetary law, since there is no greater area of study ("Miktzo'a ba'Torah") than monetary law, and the laws of Dinei Mamonos are like an ever-flowing stream. Rebbi Yishmael adds that one who wants to learn Dinei Mamonos (in his day) should serve Shimon ben Nanas.
What is unique about the study of Dinei Mamonos that it makes one wise?
(a) The TIFERES YISRAEL explains this Mishnah at length, based on two main points. His first point is that the Halachos of how to judge monetary cases have very little explicit mention in the Torah. The foundations for judging monetary cases are laid out in the Gemara. Since, in monetary cases, the possible claims are innumerable, a judge must be proficient at finding precedents in the Gemara for the cases that come before him. His second point is that in contrast to cases of "Isur v'Heter" (matters of prohibition and permissibility) where a judge who is in doubt can simply rule stringently, a judge who has a doubt about a monetary law cannot simply rule stringently, because a stringency for one litigant is a leniency for the other. Accordingly, one who wants to judge Dinei Mamonos must examine carefully all of the details of all of the laws, and doing so will make him wise.
(b) The IYUN YAKOV explains that the wisdom to which Rebbi Yishmael here refers is the shrewdness that a Dayan must have in order to discern when witnesses, plaintiffs, or defendants are not telling the truth. A Dayan should be crafty enough to employ whatever type of method necessary to determine the facts of the case. A story is told about a Dayan who sensed, but could not prove, that a person who seemed to have a valid claim that he was the owner of a certain coin was in fact not its owner and was lying. The Dayan privately instructed his attendant to whisper to someone within earshot of the suspect that the coin in question had a dent on its the front along with some discoloration (which the true owner would have known), and if the claimant is the true owner he certainly would know this detail. When the claimant came back into court, he immediately stated that he could prove that the coin was his, and he gave the details which he overheard the attendant whisper. The Dayan promptly said, "The coin clearly is not yours, as it has none of those characteristics," and he awarded the coin to the other party.
(c) The YOSEF DA'AS comments that perhaps the Mishnah means that since most laws in the Torah are monetary laws (as Hillel says in Shabbos 31a, that the "Klal Gadol ba'Torah" is "that which you do not like, do not do to your friend"), one will become wise in Torah by focusing on Dinei Mamonos. He adds that an allusion to this may be found in the Gematriya of "Miktzo'a ba'Torah." The word "Miktzo'a" equals 306, just more than half of the Gematriya of "Torah," which equals 611. (Y. MONTROSE)