Thursday, January 22, 2009

Through Desolation, the Gate is Broken Apart

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Rav Sechorah said in the name of Rav Huna in the name of Rav (Bava Kamma 21a) : Someone who lives in his friend’s courtyard without his knowledge is not obligated to pay him rent, for it is written: Through desolation, the gate is broken apart (demons destroy a vacant house; it emerges that the dweller actually benefits the owner).

Mar the son of Rav Ashi remarked: I myself have seen such this demon and the damage was as great as a rampaging bull.

Rav Yosef said: Houses that are inhabited by remain in a better condition (for they maintain it).

It would seem from this Gemora that without this benefit that the dweller provides for the owner, he would be liable to pay. The Rashba asks: Why would this be? It seemed from the entire Gemora above that everyone holds that when one benefits and the other one does not lose, he is not liable to pay!?

He answers that although the Gemora here agrees that one who benefits from another is exempt from liability if he did not cause a loss, practically speaking, this would not be the halachah. This is because, generally, one who dwells in someone else’s house does cause a slight damage to the house. The Gemora had previously ruled that whenever there is a loss to the owner, the one who benefits is obligated to pay for the pleasure that he derived. The Gemora here is explaining that the benefit which the dweller is providing the owner by dwelling in his house offsets the loss in damages that the owner incurs on account of the dweller. It is therefore classified as a case where one benefits and the other is not losing.