As we have seen before, the Mishna (2a) taught that a person who did damage will be obligated to pay restitution with meitav – from the best land. Rav Huna teaches that the individual who pays has a choice – either money or meitav. In response, Rav Nahman asks how Rav Huna can square his ruling with the baraita that understands the passage (Shemot 21:34) requiring someone who dug a pit in the public thoroughfare to make restitution by means of kesef yashiv be-be’alav – “money he will return to the owner” – to mean that anything with value can be used to pay the debt, even bran – Rav Huna responds that the baraita only permits payment in shaveh kesef (something of value that is not actual money) in cases where he does not have cash. Rather than saying that he is obligated to sell the object in order to raise cash with which to pay his debt, the baraita teaches that the object can be used to pay the debt directly.
According to Rabbeinu Tam, there are a number of different rules and regulations that apply:
- With regard to nezikin, payment should ideally be made with cash or with the best land (idit). Payment can also be made with any movable object – even with the appropriate amount of bran, since movable objects are viewed as being readily sold, and are, therefore, considered the equivalent of cash.
- If someone borrowed money, repayment is supposed to be made with cash. Only if he does not have cash to return will he be allowed to substitute an appropriate amount of land to cover his debt. In any event, he is not obligated to sell anything in order to pay in cash, and in a worst case scenario he will be allowed to pay with land or some other object of value.
When it comes to paying wages of someone who was hired, payment must be made in cash. If the employer has no cash to pay he cannot substitute anything else as payment – even movable objects – and he will have to find a purchaser for his land or valuables in order to raise the money to pay his workers.