For the week ending 24 September 2016 / 21 Elul 5776

Bava Kama 114 - 119

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Stolen or rescued property of which the owners have despaired of recovering
  • Difference between a robber and a burglar
  • When testimony of woman or minor is acceptable
  • Claiming stolen property from one who purchased it from thief
  • When one sacrifices his own to save that of another
  • Utilizing crops or wine about to be lost as a tithe
  • When an arrangement for payment for an extraordinary fee must be honored
  • Rabbi Safra and the lion escort
  • How to determine how much each member of a ship or caravan must pay for protection from danger
  • Responsibility of one who collaborates with thieves by showing them someone's property
  • Rabbi Cahana's flight from Babylon and his experience with Rabbi Yochanan
  • When another's property can be sacrificed to save one's life
  • Returning to owner a stolen property which has been flooded
  • Returning stolen animal without notifying victim
  • Restrictions on purchasing from sources which may be selling stolen goods
  • What cleaners or carpenters can keep for themselves

When Major is Minor

  • Bava Kama 114-119

When the Sage Ravina came to the Babylonian city of Machuza to raise funds for charity the local women offered him their precious jewelry, which he gratefully accepted. This prompted a challenge from the Sage Rabbah Tosfah that the rule was that charity trustees could accept from married women only minor contributions that could be assumed to have the consent of their husbands. Ravina's response was that in relation to the wealth of Machuza residents this jewelry was still considered a minor contribution.

In light of this approach a solution to a mystery in regard to King David is offered by Rabbi Yechezkel Landau in his Noda B'Yehuda Responsa (Second Volume, Yoreh Deah 158). When Avigail, the righteous wife of the miserly Naval, learned that he had refused to provide David and his soldiers with the food they requested in exchange for guarding his flocks on Mount Carmel, she realized that Naval had behaved in a wicked fashion and she took the initiative of providing them with "two hundred loaves of bread, two jugs of wine, five sheep readily prepared, five measures of parched corn, a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs." (Shmuel I, 25:18)

In solution of the mystery as how David could accept such a substantial gift from a married woman without the expressed consent of her husband, the author offers a number of possibilities. One of them is based on Ravina's above-mentioned ruling regarding the women of Machuza. In relation to the massive wealth of Naval his wife's gift was considered a minor contribution.

What the Sages Say

"There is no greater case of ransoming captives than this (the guardian of funds collected for ransoming captives who saved his life by giving them to bandits)."

  • The Sage Rabbah - Bava Kama 117b

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