For the week ending 25 June 2016 / 19 Sivan 5776

Bava Kama 23 - 29

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The dog, the burning cookie and the fire
  • Inciting a snake or a dog on a victim
  • What gives an ox the status of mu’ad – a habitual gorer for whose damages full payment must be made
  • Liability for damage done by ox in the victim's domain
  • The limits of the kal ve’chomer method of interpreting the Torah
  • How this method applies to certain laws of spiritual impurity
  • The responsibility of a man for damages which he causes rather than his animal
  • A series of statements by the Sage Rabbah on a wide range of subjects
  • Placing an obstacle in the public domain
  • Little pitchers and big ones
  • When one can take the law into his own hands
  • Responsibility for cleaning the public domain of the water or shards from a broken vessel
  • Whether renouncing ownership of damaging item affects responsibility

Consecutive and Successive

  • Bava Kama 23b

During the winter months we mention in our very first blessings of the Shmoneh Esrei a praise of G-d as the One Who provides rain. But once Pesach arrives we omit this since rain is hardly a blessing during the summer season. Should one mistakenly mention this praise of rain he must repeat the blessing if he has already completed it. If one is uncertain as to whether he made this error, he must assume for the first thirty days that he has said what he is accustomed to and must make the correction.

Since it takes thirty days to make the omission of this praise habitual, the Shulchan Aruch, (Orach Chaim 114:9) offers an alternative. On the first day of Pesach one can say the words of the second blessing 90 times, each time omitting the praise of rain. This number corresponds to the number of Shmoneh Esrei prayers said in a 30-day period and therefore is considered as having achieved the same habit-forming effect.

This ruling is based on the idea that 90 consecutive times is equivalent to 90 times in succession. In our gemara, however, this concept is an issue of debate between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda. Since we rule like the latter that, in regard to the warnings required to give an ox the status of a habitual gorer, three times in one day is not equivalent to three days in a row, the question arises as to why in the above-mentioned case we view 90 consecutive times in one day as equivalent to 90 times spread over 30 days.

The answer given by Magen Avraham is that as far as habit-forming, it is logical to assume that the closer together the times are the greater impact they will have. In the case of the ox, however, we cannot assume this pattern because there is the possibility that it gored three times in one day because of a fit of madness on that particular day.

What the Sages Say

"The Torah does not hold one responsible for sin committed or damage caused when one has no control of the situation."

  • General Rule of the Gemara - Bava Kama 28b

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