Core basics Uncategorized

Property Values

I’m 57 years old and I still have no clue what עידית זיבורית ובינונית are all about (see Bava Kama 6b and Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 102). How embarrassing is that? 

Here’s the problem: How can two properties that have the exact same market value (equal to each of the multiple חובות the individual faces) have different objective worths? In other words, a 50×100 lot in a safe and pleasant residential community might be worth $2,000,000 while a property that’ll sell for that same $2,000,000 in northern Ontario would probably have to be around twenty acres.

But in which way is the residential property “better” (עידית) or “worse” (זיבורית) than the distant, regional property? It all depends on what you plan to do with it. A mining company might be more interested in northern Ontario while a young, growing family would be more interested in a house. It’s really subjective.

So wouldn’t it have made more sense, rather than creating עידית זיבורית ובינונית categories, to simply say something like:

יד ניזק על העליונה

Meaning that the creditor with the strongest claim gets to choose whichever of the properties (of equal value) that he wants.

Update: I asked around and heard a couple of useful insights:

Efraim Stulberg, my (former) talmid (who is in the corporate asset evaluation business), suggested that markets do sometimes separate sale price from value. His example was in how liquidity can be a significant differentiator even when two businesses are selling for the same price.

And Menachem Rosenzweig, my (permanent) son-in-law, (who is in the commercial mortgage brokerage business) noted how higher cash flows can similarly impact the salability of commercial properties without impacting the price. 

Having said all that, Efraim pointed out that, in halachic terms, the Rambam follows the sugya in Bava Kama 6b, where מיטב שדהו refers exclusively to מטלטלין and not קרקע, since מטלטלין are easy to resell at high prices (i.e., they’re liquid).


Another Site Update

I’ve added a nice long chapter to my Finding Tradition project: How We Choose What We Observe. It’s about some gaps between halachic ideals and our real-world halachic performance.

All Torah communities work hard addressing challenges, but none of us is perfect. Halacha is a complex system, the Jews are a complex people and we live in a madly complex world. If we value truth and aspire to improve, it’s important to recognize and understand those gaps.

Take a look for yourself and share your thoughts.