For the week ending 10 September 2016 / 7 Elul 5776

Bava Kama 100 - 106

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Responsibility for indirect damage
  • When the dyer or carpenter fail to do what they were hired for
  • Claiming the stolen dye that has been used
  • How shmitah (seventh year) laws affect wood and dye
  • Some rules about deciding halacha in case of dispute
  • What is not included when one pledges his belongings to the Sanctuary
  • Returning stolen property after taking a false oath in denying guilt
  • When one is unaware of the identity of the person he stole from or from whom he purchased without paying
  • The responsibility of an agent appointed for collecting a debt
  • The chomesh surcharge on returning stolen property as atonement for taking a false oath in denial of guilt
  • Fluctuating value of stolen property
  • The claims and oaths taken by a guardian denying responsibility for loss of animal placed in his custody

The Confused Chasid

  • Bava Kama 103b

A chasid – an especially righteous Jew – came before Rabbi Tarfon with a problem. He had purchased something from one of two sellers without making payment and did not remember to whom he owed the money. Rabbi Tarfon instructed him to simply place the purchase money in front of both and let them settle between themselves.

The question arises as to what Rabbi Tarfon would have ruled in a case in which such a buyer had been challenged by one of the sellers and had taken an oath of denial only to later admit that he was lying. In such an event, concludes the gemara, Rabbi Tarfon would have ruled that he is obligated to pay both of them as we see in the mishna case of someone who steals from one of five people and falsely swears in denial.

This conclusion is based on the assumption that in the case of the chasid there was no false oath taken since we cannot imagine such a righteous Jew taking a false oath. But perhaps, the challenge is offered, he became a chasid only after committing this sin and repenting.

The refutation of this challenge is based on a tradition that whenever a chasid is mentioned in the Talmud, it is a reference to either Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava or Rabbi Yehuda bar Rabbi Iloi, both of whom were especially righteous from the very beginning.

While the title chasid used in Talmudic accounts is limited to those two Sages, it does seem that one who has committed even so grave a sin as taking a false oath is still eligible to be called a chasid after repenting.

What the Sages Say

"All of Seder Nezikin (the Talmudic order of which Bava Kama is a part) is considered like one long mesechta (as regards whether there is a definite order to the mishnayot in it)."

  • Rabbi Yosef - Bava Kama 102a

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