Much of the focus of today’s daf (Yevamot 93a) concerns the question of אדם מקנה דבר שלא בא לעולם, i.e. whether ‘someone can acquire something that has yet to come into being’.
In terms of the essence of this question, it considers whether acquisition must only apply to the tangible or also to the possible; to the actual or to the potential; to the present or to the future. Of course, unless one can actually see and therefore understand the nature of an item, it would seem to be both absurd and – in many cases – irresponsible to think that one can acquire or sell it before it comes into being. At the same time, the very notion of investments means that we often trade not only with what is today, but also with what might be tomorrow.
Fundamentally, the principle underpinning the discussion in our Gemara relates to the world of acquisitions and ownership, and the notion that it is the tangible grasping of something which is a means of taking possession of it – thereby making the act of possession of something which has yet come into being more difficult to achieve.
It is this fascinating paradox, where we can only hold onto what is present while nevertheless working towards what will be; of holding tight to what we have now while constantly thinking about what it will be tomorrow, which is one of the great struggles of life. True, we cannot hold what doesn’t yet exist. Still, we should always consider what will be emerge from what we do today.
* nb. I’d previously noted that I was to be travelling from London to Tel Aviv via Sofia (Bulgaria). Unfortunately, due to significant flight delays, my ‘via’ has extended into a long morning and afternoon (I’ll be returning back to Israel early tomorrow morning by taking a flight this afternoon via Warsaw). What this means is that this daf thought, posted later than usual given the many conversations I’ve had to have with airlines, insurance companies and Donna (who – as usual – has been a star and figured out a way for me to get home), is being written in Sofia airport. And why do I mention this? Because the beauty of daf yomi is that it is studied every day wherever a person is – and, for whatever reason, God decided that today was the day that I should study the daf and write something about it in Sofia.