For the week ending 4 June 2016 / 27 Iyyar 5776

Bava Kama 2 - 8

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Four categories of responsibility for damager caused by one's failure to prevent damage and their sub-categories
  • Which sub-category has rules other than its category
  • Sources for the various types of damagers
  • The special category of damage caused by animal kicking stones while walking in public thoroughfare
  • Conflicting views of which damagers are mentioned in the mishna
  • The additional categories listed by Rabbi Oshia and Rabbi Chiya
  • The Sage Rava's explanation of why it was necessary for the mishna to list all four categories
  • The damager not mentioned in the mishna but implied
  • Whether the damager pays from the best of his fields or according to the best of the victim's properties or the best of his own
  • When a landowner is entitled to receive tithe for the poor
  • Whether evaluation of damager's property for payment depends on what is his own best or what is generally considered best
  • The order of collection of a victim of damage and of a creditor
  • Whether selling a field with a guarantee or without one entitles the seller to contest the confiscation of that property

The Poor Rich Man

How is it possible for a man who owns property to be entitled to receive money from the tithe reserved for the poor?

The rule is that if one owns two hundred zuz he is not considered poor and is not entitled to any of the agricultural gifts that the Torah awards to the poor.

But what if that person owns houses or fields worth this sum but is unable to sell them for the sum he needs in order to support himself?

The halacha is that in such a case he may be given the tithe reserved for the poor up until half the amount of two hundred zuz and be required to sell his property at a substantial loss to cover the other half.

The reason given by the gemara for this is that the value of his property is really 200 zuz if he waits until the month of Nissan when he can sell his fields for that amount. His desperate search for cash half a year before that compels him to sell at the lower price. Unlike the truly poor man who lacks even the potential to own 200 zuz and can therefore receive in one gift even a thousand zuz in tithes for the poor, this fellow, because of his potential to sell for 200 zuz, is only entitled to help up until the half of what his property would eventually be worth.

  • Bava Kama 7a

What the Sages Say

"A man is responsible to guard his body so that it should not cause any damage (even involuntarily)."

  • Rabbi Avahu - Bava Kama 4a

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