Terms of Borrowing Objects and Terms of Borrowing Money - Shabbos 148a
זמן שאלה וזמן הלואה
Terms of Borrowing Objects and Terms of Borrowing Money
The Mishnah states that a person may borrow jugs of wine or oil from his friend on Shabbos, so long as the term he uses to describe the transaction is the case-specific term for borrowing objects ( שאלה — lit., request) and not the term generally used to describe the borrowing of money ( הלואה — lit., loan). Rashi explains that this is because a loan is generally for thirty days (see Makkos 3b), which is a longer period of time than the period of time of a normal request. We are therefore concerned that the person who is lending the jug will want to record this unusual transaction, and may come to write on Shabbos.
Rabbeinu Tam in Tosafos rejects Rashi’s explanation. He notes that the Gemara (Menachos 44a) rules that a talis that one borrows for up to thirty days is defined as a טלית שאולה — a talis on request — is therefore exempt from tzitzis; and that a house (outside the Land of Israel) that one rents or otherwise uses has the status of a request for thirty days and is therefore exempt from mezuzah. Rabbeinu Tam explains that the exemption is clearly because everyone knows that an object or house may be the subject of a request for up to thirty days. The obligation to tie tzitzis or to fix a mezuzah after the thirty days is because the arrangement no longer looks like a request, but like an acquisition. Tosafos go on to record Ri’s explanation of our Mishnah’s ruling, which differs from Rashi.
Ramban, (to Makkos loc. cit.) however, rejects Rabbeinu Tam’s proof. He notes that, clearly, [even according to Rabbeinu Tam] the distinction between within the thirty days and after the thirty days is only in the eyes of the beholder ( מראית העין ), as a request, and even a loan, may be contracted for a longer period. It is only because people begin to perceive the tallis or house as the borrower’s or the renter’s that Chazal imposed the obligation of tzitzis or mezuzah respectively. But this has everthing to do with perception, and nothing to do with the terms of the transaction. It is entirely possible that although a loan may not be demanded back by the lender before thirty days have elpased, a request may be demanded back by its owner well within those thirty days. It is only after thirty days have elapsed, however, that people begin to regard the ownership of the object or the house as having shifted to the borrower.