Thursday, January 15, 2015

Legislating competition


"Rav Huna said: If an alley resident establishes a mill, and another alley resident establishes one beside him, the former is legally able to prevent this, saying, 'You are interrupting my livelihood.'"

(Talmud, Bava Batra 21b)

Note: Mordechai Bava Batra 516 explains that this is a closed alley, and the earlier mill is near the closed end, with the new mill moving in near the open end.

Have a great day,


  1. Where is "nearer the sole entrance of the alley"?

    אמר רב הונא: האי בר מבואה דאוקי ריחיא, ואתא בר מבואה חבריה וקמוקי גביה, דינא הוא דמעכב עילויה, דא"ל: קא פסקת ליה לחיותי.

    I would have translated:
    Rav Huna said: If the resident of a mavui establishes a hand-mill shop and his neighbor from the same mavui establishes one next to him, the law is that he can prevent this. For he can say to him, "You are stopping my livelihood".

    Either way, a "mavo" isn't an alley, as alleys are often open at both ends, and a mavo could be bigger than an alley. We really don't have too many mevo'or the way cities are built nowadays, but I think the closest equivalent is cul-de-sac. (I also don't like interrupting, which also sounds open on both ends, although in time -- like the person expects the problem to end. "Pasaq" is to stop.)

    As the Arukh haShulchan (OC 345:17-24) notes the difference in city planning styles between Israel under the Romans and our cities when explaining why we don't have too many public domains in the biblical sense [reshus harabim re'oraisa] with respect to Shabbos). Their cities had one or two major roads connecting them to other cities (stratia). Somewhere on that road, or where the roads meet, would be a single common area, used on market days and for other public events (platia). Off the stratia would be many mevo'os, and off those would be courtyards of multiple homes and other mevo'os. A tree structure. Very different than our network of streets. And we have no single common area, so we don't really have the kind of public domain under discussion.

    But anyway, mevo'os all dead-end. And if they don't, they aren't a mavui for rabbinic purposes and one needs to construct one (a real wall or halachic equivalent). Then one has a real mavui that the rabbis still prohibit carrying in, without putting up one of two kinds of marker up at the open end (or closing it up with a wall or halachic equivalent and turning it into a private area rather than a mavui).

    In your version too, the assumption that the mavui has one open end. I just don't see where it is actually mentioned. Is your translation informed by a later statement in the gemara or a rishon?

  2. Hello R' Micha-
    A mavui is not necessarily dead-end; we distinguish between a מבוי המפולש and a מבוי שאינו מפולש, the latter being the dead-end variety. That's why I rendered it (open-ended, pun intended) as simply an alley.

    But as you note in your last paragraph, by writing "the sole entrance", I did assume that here there is only one entrance in this case. I am not sure why I assumed that, and I am going to edit that out.

  3. R' Micha-
    I came across my source - it's Mordechai Bava Basra 516, who says this is indeed a dead-end alley, and that the new mill is closer to the sole entrance. I have now re-edited the post, to reflect that.