Daf Yomi

For the week ending 7 February 2009 / 13 Shevat 5769

Bava Kama 44 - 50

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Unintentional slaughter perpetrated by an ox
  • Which murderous ox is liable for execution
  • Sanctifying or slaughtering a murderous ox before or after it is condemned to die
  • Role of the shomer (guardian) in regard to the ox placed in his safekeeping
  • The degree of guarding required in regard to an ox
  • Mystery of which animal was gorer and victim
  • On whom is the burden of proof
  • The damage done by an ox to vessels or animal brought into its owner's area without permission
  • When the animal sustains damage by eating something which does not belong to its owner
  • Responsibility of man or animal in involuntarily causing a miscarriage
  • How value of the children lost is calculated
  • Digging a pit in a private or public domain
  • The miraculous rescue of Nechemia's daughter
  • Degrees of responsibility for damage caused by someone or something falling into a pit

Safety in Street and Home

  • Bava Kama 46a

What is considered sufficient guarding of an ox to absolve its owner from responsibility for the damage it causes?

While Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda have different positions as to how far the owner must go in guarding an ox which is a habitual gorer, an extreme view is taken by Rabbi Eliezer who rules that the only way to prevent such an ox from causing damage is to slaughter it.

The Sage Abaye suggests that Rabbi Eliezer's position is based on a ruling of Rabbi Natan that it is forbidden for one to keep a wild dog or a rickety ladder in his home. This is based on the Torah command "to not allow blood to be shed in your home" (Devarim 22:8); a safety warning that extends as well to a dangerous ox.

It would seem from the simple reading of the text that Rabbi Eliezer would hold the owner of a habitual gorer responsible for damage it causes even if he provided maximum guarding. But Tosefot takes a different look at things. Rabbi Eliezer, according to the Sage Abaye, is merely stating that it is forbidden to maintain such a dangerous animal and that it should therefore be slaughtered. If one did not get around to slaughtering it but provided maximum guarding he will not be responsible for the damage it causes.

What the Sages Say

"Whoever says that G-d overlooks his sins will have his own life overlooked (because he encourages people to sin. – Rashi)"

  • Rabbi Chanina - Bava Kama 50a

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