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Thought for the Day: Destined to Break is Broken

First there was Star Wars, then The Empire Strikes Back, finally Return of the Jedi.  Well... not quite "finally", as we were treated to a new term: prequel.  Prequels allowed Hollywood to test an idea with a splashy and exciting story; a story that was full of holes.  Then, if the movie was successful, they could back fill the holes and milk their cash cow dry.

I have no cash cow (and very little cash of any sort), but I realize after looking back at my attempt to explain how "ha'motzi mei'chaveiro, alav haraya" works, that I need some prequels.  By using prequels I also can cover my lack of organization and clarity under the guise of building excitement and interest.

The first item of business is built on a particular category of damage that an animal can cause and the obligation his owner has to make restitution.  If an animal is walking in a public thoroughfare and steps on a vase, the animal's owner has no obligation to pay for the vase.  Both the animal and the vase have equal right to use the public thoroughfare, animals don't necessarily step gingerly around fragile items, so it is normal.  If the animal walks into your house and steps on a vase, of course, then the owner must pay for all damages.  The animal has no right to be there and your vase has every right to there.  So far so good.  One more detail: if the animal kicks a rock in the public thoroughfare that flies through your window and breaks your vase, then the animal's owner must reimburse you for half of your loss.  That is a halacha l'moshe m'sinai; HaShem whispered it into Moshe Rabeinu's ear and told him not to write it down.  If a person kicks, throws, hits, or otherwise motivates a rock to fly from the public thoroughfare into your house then he will pay full damages.  Animals aren't so careful and even though the damage occurred in your house, it started in the public area; so HaShem decreed a compromise.  That's the facts, ma'am, just the facts.

Now... Chazal ask: What about an animal is walking along in the public thoroughfare and kicks a vase into the (vase) owner's house where it smashes against a wall?  Did the damage occur in the public thoroughfare (and so the animal's owner is off the hook), or did the damage occur in the house (and so the animal's owner must pay half damages)?  The gemara answers the question by comparing this case  to the case of someone knocking their vase off their roof. As the vase is hurtling earthward to certain destruction, someone else is walking by with a baseball bat and decides to take a swing at it.  SMASH!! Score!  Question: does the batter have to pay for the vase?  Answer: no; it was considered broken from the moment it left the roof.  Conclusion: in our case of the cow kicking the vase from the street into the living room, Mrs. O'Leary is also off the hook.  The vase is considered broken from the time it was kicked, which was in the public thoroughfare, so exempt from paying damages.

Ok, now that we have that clear, go back and read my post on how "ha'motzi mei'chaveiro, alav haraya" works.  I'll wait.

Hey... you are back awfully fast.  Still need more clarification?  Ok... coming soon...


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