For the week ending 13 August 2016 / 9 Av 5776

Bava Kama 72 - 78

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Slaughtering a stolen animal in the Beit Hamikdash
  • From when is a witness disqualified by hazamah considered an invalid witness
  • The space of time between two statements which does not set them apart
  • The witness who is contradicted before being disqualified through hazamah
  • When a thief does not pay the additional fine for selling or slaughtering a stolen animal
  • The thief who confesses his crime before witnesses appear to incriminate him
  • Testimony that is invalid because it cannot be discredited
  • Slaughtering a stolen animal that has been sanctified as a sacrifice
  • Situations in which food contract ritual impurity from contact with others
  • Is there a fine for selling a stolen animal for which slaughtering will not be fined
  • The status of an animal born from crossbreeding in regard to sacrifice and a fine for selling or slaughtering
  • Partial sale of a stolen animal or invalid slaughter of it

Replacing the Lost Etrog

  • Bava Kama 78b

A Jew borrows a very expensive etrog from his neighbor to fulfill the mitzvah of taking the four species on Succot. Before he has a chance to return it, it somehow gets lost and he must now compensate the owner with another etrog. But why should he be required to purchase a similarly expensive etrog if he can provide him with a perfectly kosher one that is not of the same quality but much cheaper?

This question was dealt with by two great halachic authorities in connection with our gemara. The Sage Rava rules that if someone set aside an ox for fulfillment of his vow and that ox was stolen, the thief can replace it with a sheep and the victim cannot demand an ox because he wished to bring a sacrifice of greater quality. One opinion is that the case of the etrog is similar to this case and the ruling should be the same. A dissenting opinion is found, however, in the Responsa of Chacham Tzvi (Responsa 102). In the case of our gemara, he points out, the thief did not cause his victim any loss of money, while he did so in the case of the etrog. That expensive etrog had the potential of being sold for a high price, while an animal set aside for sacrifice is not for sale.

What the Sages Say

"Witnesses whose testimony is not vulnerable to exposure by other witnesses cannot be considered valid witnesses."

  • Consensus of the Sages - Bava Kama 75b

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