For the week ending 9 July 2016 / 3 Tammuz 5776

Bava Kama 30 - 36

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Damage caused by spilled water or a thorny fence
  • What use can be made of the public domain
  • Penalties for environmental offenders and usurers
  • Responsibility for collision of two carriers in public domain
  • Collision of a running and walking pedestrian
  • How Sages welcomed the Shabbat
  • Damage caused by chopped wood flying from one domain to another
  • When two animals or men damage each other
  • Taking the damaging ox as payment for damage caused
  • Calculation of payment for damage caused by ox when the victim's carcass has value or is worthless
  • The difference between man's responsibility for damage caused by him or by his animal
  • Doubts arising as to which animal caused damage
  • Is the victim of damage caused by an animal considered a partner with the owner of the damager or only a creditor

Welcoming the Shabbat Bride

  • Bava Kama 32
Every Jew who attends Shabbat Eve services is familiar with the Lecha Dodi prayer with which we welcome the holy day of rest.

The source for this is our gemara which offers an explanation why a Jew running in the public domain is guilty of damage he causes by unintentionally colliding with a walking pedestrian but is absolved of such responsibility if the purpose of his running is to welcome the Shabbat. Two examples of Sages welcoming the Shabbat are cited.

Rabbi Chanina was in the custom of announcing, "Let us go out to meet the queenly bride", while Rabbi Yanai would stand and say "Come you the bride, come you the bride."

Maharsha thus explains each of these forms of welcome.

Shabbat is the bride of the Jewish people. The Midrash relates that when G-d created the world and ordained a seven-day week, Shabbat came with a complaint that all the other days of the week have mates – the day that follows – while she has none. G-d told her that the Jewish people would be her mate. Since all Jews are considered royalty, their bride is a queen. Just as it is the custom of a groom to move towards his bride at the time of the wedding (see Rashi on Devarim 33:2), so too Rabbi Chanina called for going forward to welcome Shabbat.

Rabbi Yanai, on the other hand, invited the Shabbat bride to come to the chupa and then to come home just as every bride made that double transition, hence the need to say that invitation twice.

What the Sages Say

"All who place something in the public domain bear responsibility for any damage resulting from it, and anyone who takes the initiative of removing this damaging item gains ownership of it."

  • Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel - Bava Kama 30a

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