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Steinsaltz

There is a stringency that applies to the category of Ox as op-posed to Fire, and conversely, there is a stringency that applies to Fire as opposed to Ox.

The baraita elucidates: The stringency that applies to the category of Ox as opposed to the category of Fire is that if an ox kills a Jew the owner is liable to pay a ransom, and for killing a slave the owner is liable to pay thirty sela. Furthermore, in such a case, once the court hears the evidence and the verdict of the ox is complete and the court rules that the ox must be killed, it is prohibited to derive any benefit from the ox. And if one transfers his ox to the care of a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor, and it causes damage, he is liable. All of this is not so with regard to a fire. And the stringency that applies to Fire as opposed to Ox is that the one responsible for the fire is considered forewarned from its inception, which is not so with regard to an ox.

There is a stringency that applies to the category of Fire as opposed to the category of Pit, and conversely, there is a stringency that applies to Pit as opposed to Fire.

The baraita elucidates: The stringency that applies to the category of Pit as opposed to the category of Fire is that its initial formation, e.g., its digging, is done in a manner that can result in damage, and if one transfers it to the care of a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor and it causes damage, one is liable. This is not so with regard to a fire. The stringency that applies to Fire as opposed to Pit is that the typical manner of a fire is to proceed and cause damage. And the one responsible for it is considered forewarned with regard to its consuming both something that is fitting for it and something that is not fitting for it, i.e., both flammable and non-flammable items. This is not so with regard to a pit.

The Gemara asks: But let the baraita also teach the following additional stringency: A stringency that applies to Ox as opposed to Pit is that if the ox damages vessels, the ox’s owner is liable to pay for the vessels, which is not so with regard to a pit, which incurs liability for its owner only for damage it causes to people and to animals but not to vessels.

The Gemara explains: In accordance with whose opinion is this baraita taught? It is taught in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, who deems one liable also for damage caused to vessels by his pit.

The Gemara challenges this: If the baraita is in accordance with Rabbi Yehuda, try to say and explain accordingly the latter clause, which states: The stringency that applies to Fire as opposed to Pit is that the typical manner of a fire is to proceed and cause damage. And the one responsible for it is considered forewarned with regard to its consuming both something that is fitting for it and something that is not fitting for it. This is not so with regard to a pit. The Gemara clarifies: Something that is fitting for it, what are these? Pieces of wood. Something that is not fitting for it, what are these? Vessels. And yet the baraita concludes: This is not so with regard to a pit, which indicates that liability is not incurred for damage done to vessels by one’s pit. The Gemara presents the difficulty: If the baraita is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, didn’t you say that Rabbi Yehuda deems one liable for damage caused to vessels by his pit?

Rather, actually, the baraita is in accordance with the opinion of the Rabbis, and the additional stringency mentioned is true but was not mentioned because the tanna taught certain cases and omitted others. The Gemara asks: What else did he omit that makes it reasonable to assume that he omitted this? As a tanna would never omit just a single case, perforce there must be more. The Gemara explains: He also omitted the case of damage done to a concealed item. Liability is incurred for damage done to a concealed item only when it was caused through a category of damage other than fire. If it is damaged by a fire that one lit, he is exempt.

The Gemara suggests another explanation of the baraita: If you wish, say that actually the baraita is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, and explain that the term: Something that is not fitting for it, in the baraita, does not serve to include vessels; with regard to vessels there is no distinction between Fire and Pit. Rather, it serves to include a case where a fire scorched another person’s plowed field or singed [sikhsekha] his stones, which are ways of causing damage that cannot be caused by a pit.

Rav Ashi objects to this suggestion: If so, let the baraita also teach the following additional stringency: A stringency that applies to Ox as opposed to Pit is that in the primary category of Ox one is liable if his ox damages another’s ox that is in the category of disqualified consecrated animals, i.e., an animal set aside to be an offering that was disqualified from use and then redeemed. He is liable despite the fact that even after being redeemed it retains a degree of sanctity. This is not so with regard to damage caused by a pit to a disqualified consecrated animal, as in that case he is not liable for the damage caused.

Rav Ashi explains his objection: Granted, if you say that the baraita is in accordance with the opinion of the Rabbis, then since the tanna omitted that case of damage done to vessels, he also omitted this case of damage done to disqualified consecrated animals. But if you say that the baraita is in accordance with Rabbi Yehuda, what else did he omit that makes it reasonable to assume that he omitted this?

The Gemara answers: He omitted the case of an ox that intentionally trampled on a plowed field of another person in order to cause damage. Since the damage was intentional it is included in the primary category of Goring and so one is liable. This manner of causing damage cannot be done by a pit. The Gemara rejects this: If one claims that the tanna omitted the case of damage done to disqualified consecrated animals only due to the fact that he also omitted the case of an ox that intentionally trampled on a plowed field of another person, that is not a sufficient justification. The latter case is not an additional independent omission, as it is included in that which is taught in that baraita: The stringency that applies to Fire as opposed to Pit is that the typical manner of a fire is to proceed and cause damage. The fact that there is no case in the category of Pit corresponding to an ox that intentionally trampled on a plowed field is addressed by this clause.

§ The mishna states: In any case in which I facilitated part of the damage it caused, I am liable for payments of restitution for damage it caused, as if I were the one who facilitated the entire damage it caused.

The Sages taught a baraita that elucidates the mishna’s ruling: In any case in which I facilitated part of the damage it caused, I am liable for payments of restitution for damage it caused, as if I were the one who facilitated the entire damage it caused. How so? In the case of one who digs a pit to a depth of nine handbreadths, and another person comes along and completes the digging to a depth of ten handbreadths, the depth at which a pit, according to halakha, can cause death, only the latter individual is liable for injuries and death caused by the pit. Although the pit was already able to cause injury before the second individual deepened it, since by deepening it he increased its capacity to cause damage, he becomes liable for any damage it causes.

The Gemara suggests: And this is not in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, as it is taught in a baraita: In the case of one who digs a pit to a depth of nine handbreadths, and another person comes along and completes the digging to a depth of ten handbreadths, only the latter individual is liable for both injuries and death caused by the pit. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: With regard to death caused by the pit, the responsibility is ascribed to the latter individual. With regard to damage caused by the pit, the responsibility is ascribed to the two of them.

Rav Pappa said: The baraita refers only to a digger’s liability for death caused by a pit, and then the ruling of the baraita is unanimous, i.e., it is in accordance with the opinions of both the first tanna and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi.

There are those who say that the preceding discussion took a slightly different form: The Gemara asks: Shall we say that the baraita is not in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi? Rav Pappa answered and said: The baraita refers only to a digger’s liability for death caused by a pit, and then the ruling of the baraita is unanimous.

Rabbi Zeira objects to the explanation of the baraita, that the mishna is referring only to one specific case: But are there no more cases? But isn’t there the case of one who transferred his ox to five individuals in order for them to safeguard it, and one of them was negligent in his duties and the ox caused damage? Isn’t this individual liable for all the damage? This seems to be an additional example of the principle in the mishna that if one facilitated part of the damage caused, he is liable for pay-ments of restitution for the damage caused, as if he were the one who facilitated the entire damage, so the baraita should have mentioned it.

The Gemara rejects the possibility that the mishna could be referring to this case: What are the circumstances in which the negligent watchman bears full liability? If we say that without him the ox would not have been properly safeguarded because the ox was particularly strong and it took all five individuals to safeguard it, it is obvious that the negligent individual is liable for all the damage. The reason is that he alone, through his negligence, caused all the damage, not just part of it. Rather, the case must be where even without him the ox would still have been sufficiently safeguarded. The Gemara asks: But if that is the case, what did he do by not safeguarding it? It was still safeguarded without him, so he should not be liable for even part of the damage. It is apparent, then, that the mishna is not referring to this case.

Rav Sheshet objects to the explanation of the baraita, that the mishna is referring only to one specific case: But isn’t there also the case of a fire that was left unattended by its owner and someone else augmented the fire by adding a bundle of wood to it, thereby increasing the capacity of the fire to cause damage to another’s field? Even though he only increased the fire’s capacity to damage, he is liable for any damage it causes. Seemingly, this is an additional example of the mishna’s principle that if one facilitated part of the damage caused, he is liable for payments of restitution for the damage caused, as if he were one who facilitated the entire damage, so the baraita should have mentioned it.

The Gemara rejects this suggestion: What are the circumstances?

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
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