||Only edition of this work on the laws of hazakah (possession) by R. Moses Abraham Evlei ben Jehiel Alter Shapira ha-Kohen of Lvov (Lemberg). The title page informs that Igra de-Shemattah is comprised of seven chapters, all on the subject of hazakah. It addresses issues that are closed (unclear) in the works of rishonim, in order to clarify and make clarify for students that they may find rest for their souls and may approach and understand many wondrous issues on this subject. There are approbations from R. Isaac Shemelkes of Lemberg, R. Shalom Mordecai ha-Kohen Schwadron, R. Aryeh Leibush ha-Levi Horowitz, R. Samuel Engel of Radimishle, R. Solomon Halberstam of Bobov, and R. Moses ben Amram Gruenwald of Hust.
Hazakah, (taking possession) is a term expressing three main concepts in Jewish law: (1) a mode of acquiring ownership; (2) a means of proving ownership or rights in property; (3) a factual-legal presumption (praesumptio juris) as to the existence of a particular fact or state of affairs. In its first connotation hazakah creates a new legal reality, unlike the latter two cases where it is merely instrumental in proving or presuming an existing one. Possession per se of immovable property (karka or mekarke'in, lit. "land," as opposed to metaltelin, "movable property") known to have belonged to another does not displace the title of the legal owner (mara kamma, "first owner") thereto, for "land is never stolen" (karka einah nigzelet; BK 95a; TJ, BK 10:6, 7c) and "is always in the possession of its owner" (BM 102b). The possessor is accordingly required to prove that he acquired the property in a legally recognized way. If, however, he has held undisturbed possession in the manner of an owner for a period of three consecutive years, without protest from the previous owner, the possessor's plea that he purchased the property or received it as a gift (from the first owner or his father) and that the deed thereto has been lost, is believed. Where his possession is not accompanied by such a claim of right (she-ein immah ta'anah) but merely with the contention that "no one ever said anything to me," the ḥazakah is not established (BB 3:3). Where the property is purchased or inherited from another, the holder's mere plea (some scholars require proof on his part) that the deceased or seller held possession of the property in the manner of an owner, for even one day, will validate the occupier's ḥazakah, for "he cannot be expected to know how his father came by the property" (Rashbam, BB 41a). For this reason the court would "plead the cause" of the heir or purchaser (BB 23a), to the effect that he came by the property in a lawful manner. In Jewish law ḥazakah is part of procedural law B 170a; for this reason the laws of ḥazakah are treated by Maimonides in hilkhot To'en ve-Nitan and not in the book on Kinyan), in contrast with the Roman law usucapio of the Twelve Tables, which is a matter of the substantive law whereby ownership is created by virtue of possession for a period of two years. The ḥazakah of Jewish law is somewhat akin to the possession in the Roman praescriptio longi temporis of the end of the second century C.E., according to which possession of property for 10 or 20 years effectively established title, if accompanied by iusta causa. There, however, possession is equally effective even if it transpires that ownership was acquired in a defective manner ab initio, in contrast with the Jewish law, where "he who possesses a field by virtue of a deed which is found to be defective, his hazakah is not established" (Tosef., BB 2:2; BB 32b; cf. TJ, Shevu. 6:2, 37a, where a contrary opinion is expressed).
||ובו שבעה פרקים, כולו בעניני חזקה (מכבוד הרב... משה אברהם אבלי הכהן ני' מלבוב)... לפרט ל'ש'מ'ו'ע' ל'ל'מ'ו'ד' ו'ל'ל'מ'ד'
הסכמות: ר' יצחק שמעלקיש, לבוב, ג תולדות תרס"ד;
ר' שלום מרדכי הכהן [שוואדראן], בערזאן, י כסליו תרס"ד;
ר' אריה ליבש הלוי איש הורוויץ, סטרי, ז תשרי תרס"ד;
ר' שמואל ענגיל, ראדימישא [!],ו שבט תרס"ד;
ר' שלמה האלברשטאם, באבאב, ד טבת תרס"ד;
ר' משה ב"ר עמרם [גרינוואלד], חוסט, לד למספר בני ישראל [יט אייר] תרס"ה.