TalmuDigest

For the week ending 14 February 2009 / 20 Shevat 5769

Bava Kama 51 - 57

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Responsibility of partners digging a pit in a public domain
  • How transactions of pits, houses or flocks are consummated
  • Limits of responsibility for damage caused by a pit
  • When an ox or man push something into a pit
  • The exceptional animal that falls into a pit
  • The laws which affect all animal life, not just an ox
  • The word missing from the first holy tablets
  • Working or crossbreeding two different species of animal life
  • Responsibility of owner for damage caused by the animal which he guarded
  • What constitutes sufficient guarding
  • Responsibility for four kinds of indirect damage
  • When the fence guarding the animal breaks down at night allowing the animal to cause damage
  • When a guardian pays a fine like a thief

Triple Threat

  • Bava Kama 53b

A man gets pushed by another man and an ox into a pit in the public thoroughfare, causing him physical damage.

Since there are three parties responsible for this damage – the man, the owner of the ox and the one who dug the pit – payment for the damage caused must be equally divided among them.

The ruling of the Sage Rava needs clarification in regard to the responsibility of the one who dug the pit. Tosefot compares this situation to one in which a person takes someone's garment and puts it into the fire belonging to a third party. Just as it is illogical to blame the owner of the fire for the use which is consciously made by someone else to cause damage, so too it does not make sense to hold the pit's digger responsible for a man using it to cause damage.

The resolution of this problem provided by Tosefot is that the man did not consciously push the victim into the pit. Although he is still held partially responsible, he cannot be held responsible for that part of the damage that resulted from the pit being where it was.

What the Sages Say

"When the owner of the flock is angry with his goats he blinds the leading goat (so that it will stumble and fall into a pit followed by the others – so too when G-d wishes to punish the Jews He appoints improper leaders for them – Rashi.)

  • A Galilean to Rabbi Chisda - Bava Kama 52a

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