Friday, January 02, 2009

Paying Kofer

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The Gemora (Bava Kamma 4a) explained the Mishna according to Rav as follows: The nature of ox, that it pays kofer (if the ox kills a person, the owner is liable to pay a kofer payment), is not the same as the nature of a person, who does not pay kofer (and therefore, if the Torah would only write that one is liable for an ox, we would not necessarily know that one is liable for his own damaging).

Tosfos asks: Why is the fact that an ox pays kofer regarded as a stringency? The reason why a person does not pay kofer when he kills someone is because of the principle of kim leih bid’rabbah minei - (whenever someone is deserving of two punishments, he receives the one which is more severe). And since a man is executed for killing another man, he is not required to pay the kofer payment. It emerges that not paying the kofer is not a leniency, but rather, it is due to a stringency, namely – that he is put to death!?

The Riva answers that a person would not pay kofer even if he would not be executed. This would be in a case of an accidental killing.

The Darchei Dovid explains: Although this is also a type of kim leih bid’rabbah minei; whenever someone accidentally does something - and this same action, if it would have been done intentionally, would have exempted him from a monetary payment – it exempts him from the payment in this case as well; nevertheless, it must be regarded as a lenient ruling, for the bottom line is that he is not executed and he is not obligated to pay anything.

Alternatively, Tosfos answers that he is not exempt from the kofer payment due to kim leih bid’rabbah minei.

The Maharam explains: The principle of kim leih bid’rabbah minei only applies when he committed an action that he deserves to be executed for, and simultaneously, he does something else that he is required to pay money for. However, in our case, where a man killed someone, the punishment of execution and the kofer payment are both coming for the same reason. Kim leih bid’rabbah minei will not apply here.

The Reshash explains Tosfos to mean that the principle of kim leih bid’rabbah minei does not apply in this case because the kofer payment serves as an atonement for the killing. Kim leih bid’rabbah minei exempts a money obligation which is a payment because of compensation; however, it does not exempt payments on account of forgiveness.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Uncertainty regarding Liability by Damages

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The Gemora (Bava Kamma 3a) asks: Why didn’t the Torah just write v’shilach, which connotes both shein and regel (which the Gemora proceeds to prove), and u’vier would not be necessary?

The Gemora answers: If the Torah would only write v’shilach, we would only have learned that one is liable for one of those damages; either regel because its damage is usual, or shein because it has physical pleasure when damaging (but we would not have learned that there is liability for both types).

The Gemora asks: But they are both equal, so let us derive both types of damages from one verse, for which one of them would be excluded?

The Gemora answers: If shein and regel would be derived from one verse, we might have said that one is liable only if the owner sent the animal out; however, one would not be liable if the animal went out by itself and damaged. The Torah therefore writes u’vier as well.

The Rashba asks on the Gemora’s question: Why would we learn out both damages from one verse based on the fact that we do not know which one of them to exclude? On the contrary! Since we are trying to extract money from the damager, why don’t we apply the principle that the one who is attempting to extract money is the one who is obligated to bring the proof?

A possible answer on this question is that damages are treated as prohibitions, and the rule is with respect to prohibitions that when in doubt, we rule stringently. Accordingly, we can understand why both damages will be included in one verse since we do not know which one to exclude. Why didn’t the Rashba answer like this?

The Chasam Sofer adds that this is even more problematic, for the Rashba himself (2b) uses this principle to answer a different question. The Gemora had stated: One might think that when the Torah differentiates between a tam (an ox that did not yet gore three times; the owner only pays for half the damage) and a mu’ad (an ox that gored already at least three times; the owner pays the full amount of the damage), it is only when the horn is disconnected from the animal (in a case where the animal took its uprooted horn in its mouth and gored; as the case of Tzidkiyah was of an unattached set of horns). However, when an animal gores with its horns attached to its head, it should always pay full damages. This is why the braisa quotes the additional verse from the Torah.

The Rashba there asked: On the contrary! Let us say that when an animal gores with its horns attached to its head, it should always pay half damages!?

He answered that damages are treated as prohibitions, and the rule is with respect to prohibitions that when in doubt, we rule stringently. Accordingly, when faced with the option of always paying full damages or paying half, the Gemora chooses the option of paying in full.

It would therefore seem that the Rashba is contradicting himself! How do we treat damages? Do we automatically rule stringently because it is like a prohibition, or do we rule leniently, for we are attempting to extract money away from the one who possesses the money, and for that, proof is needed?

The Har Tzvi suggests the following answer: The Levush (C”M 378) writes that not only does the Torah obligate the damager to compensate the person who was damaged, but there also is a prohibition to damage someone else’s property, in the same manner that it is forbidden to steal. If someone does not guard his possessions against inflicting damage on someone else’s property, he has violated a Biblical prohibition.

Accordingly, the Rashba can be explained as follows: The Gemora above was discussing a case where the damager is certainly obligated to pay. The animal inflicted damage with a disconnected horn in its mouth. The Gemora’s only question was with respect to the amount of the compensation. Should he always (whether it’s a tam or a mu’ad) pay full damages, or should he only pay half. In such a case, we would rule stringently, for the owner has indeed transgressed the prohibition of allowing his animal to cause damage. He now has to “fix” his sin by compensating the owner for his loss. This would be similar to a case where one said to his fellow, “I know that I owed you money, but I do not know if I paid.” He would be obligated to pay. However, in our case, where the Gemora is not certain if one should be liable at all for shein or regel; we must rule leniently. For it is quite possible that the Torah did not mandate that there should be any obligation to guard one’s property against causing such a damage. This is why the Rashba asks that if we are uncertain if there is any liability at all, we should rule leniently, and apply the principle of the one who is attempting to extract money is the one who is obligated to bring the proof. Accordingly, there is no contradiction at all.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Av and its Toladah

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The Gemora (Bava Kamma 2a) notes: We see regarding Shabbos that there are thirty-nine main categories of melachos (that are forbidden to perform according to Torah law) on Shabbos. This implies that there are sub-categories as well. Regarding Shabbos, we say that the sub-categories are like the main categories. Whether one transgresses a main category or sub-category unwittingly, he must bring a korban chatas. Whether one transgresses a main category or sub-category willfully, he is liable to be stoned. What difference, then, does it make that one is called a main category and one is called a sub-category? The difference is that if one performs two main category prohibitions or two sub-category prohibitions, he is liable twice. However, if he performs a main category prohibition and its sub-category prohibition at the same time, he is only liable for transgressing Shabbos once (and would only bring one korban chatas).

Rashi explains that when one performs an av (main category) together with its toladah (sub-category), he is liable for the av, and not for the toladah. For example, if one planted a tree (av) and watered a plant (a toladah of zore’a), he is liable for the av, and not for the toladah.

The commentators ask: What practical difference does it make if he is liable for the av or the toladah? The bottom line is that he is required to bring one korban chatas!?

Reb Tzvi Pesach Frank suggests the following: The Gemora in Shabbos (71b) rules that if one eats two olive-sized pieces of cheilev (forbidden fats) in one state of unawareness, and he is apprised of the first and he brings a korban. If subsequently, he becomes aware of the second, he is now required to bring another chatas for that one (for the bringing of one korban cannot exempt one from bringing a korban for a violation that he did not know about at the time). Accordingly, if one would perform an av and its toladah together, and he would be apprised of the av, but not the toladah, he would bring a korban for the av. If afterwards he is made aware of the toladah, he would be liable to bring a korban for it, for according to Rashi, one is not liable for a toladah when it is done together with its av.

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Best of Physicians to Gehinom

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The Mishna (Kiddushin 82a) had stated: Abba Guryon of Sidon says in the name of Abba Gurya: A man should not teach his son to be a donkey driver, a camel driver, a wagon driver, a sailor, a shepherd, or a shopkeeper, for their craft is the craft of robbers. Rabbi Yehudah says in his name, Most of the donkey drivers are evil men, and most of the camel drivers are righteous. Most of the sailors are pious. The best of the physicians are destined to Gehinom, and the most righteous of the butchers is the partner of Amalek.

There are several explanations as to the meaning of the Mishna when it states that the best of the physicians are destined to Gehinom.

Rashi understands it to mean that doctors do not fear sicknesses for they eat healthily. They therefore are not humble before Hashem. There are times that they will cause someone to die. They also can refuse to heal the poor if they do not have money to pay for their services.

The Pardes Yosef writes that a doctor must visualize Gehinom opened up before him at all times, for his decisions can lead to someone’s death.

The meaning cannot be that all doctors are destined for Gehinom, for there are many examples of great Torah scholars who were also physicians. Shmuel, Rabbi Chanina, Abba Umna, the Rambam and many more were all doctors. Rather, there are two types of doctors. There are the righteous ones who know that that they can accomplish nothing without Hashem; they are merely Hashem’s agents to heal. There are others, unfortunately, who are not believers. They think that they have the power of healing in their hands. These physicians skip the blessing of “Refa’einu” in Shemoneh Esrei. Accordingly, they have only seventeen brochos in Shemoneh Esrei. This is what the Mishna means: “Tov she’b’rofim” – the numerical value of “tov” is seventeen. Those doctors that have only seventeen brochos in their Shemoneh Esrei are destined for Gehinom.

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