Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Explanation of Liability for Damage Done by Rented/Rentable Oxen

Yesterday I wrote about the obligations of the owners and renters to pay for damage done by the oxen for rent.  There are two cases, in each Ralph rents regular (but leibadich) ox from Leon.  You may want to review, but here is the executive summary is:
Case I: The rented ox kills another ox while Ralph is renting it.  It is revealed that Leon actually rented Ralph a certified violent ox.  The damaged party is due full compensation, since the damage was done by a certified violent ox Ralph is obligated to pay the half damages that would be due if the ox had, in fact, been regular (not certified violent); Leon is responsible for the rest.
Case II: The ox becomes certified violent during the rental period.  The ox, after Ralph returns her, kills another ox.  The damaged party is due only limited half damages, as the ox has returned to her status of normal (no longer certified violent) once she was returned to Leon.  Leon pays the limited half damages; Ralph is off the hook completely.
Note that in Case I, the status of the animal was independent of who had control of her (r'shus einah m'shaneh); ie, that's her nature.  In Case II, though, her status changes from certified violent to normal when the stewardship changed (r'shus m'shaneh); ie, depends on how she is nurtured.  Seems to be a head on contradiction, as both cases are in a single ma'mar Chazal.  There are three ways to handle resolving the contradiction, and the gemara explores all three.

R' Yochanan punts; yep, it's two different opinions that were mistakenly put into one statement.

Rava says, since Case I says that nature is king, Case II must agree.  In that case, why did Leon only have to pay half damages?  Simple, Leon has every right to assume that Ralph was totally negligent in guarding the animal.  Any landlord knows that renters do not have the same concern for maintenance and upkeep that the owner himself does.  Therefore, Ralph doesn't have the legal ability to convert the ox to certified violent.  Ralph, on the other hand, is exempt because he is no longer connected to the animal at all when the damage was done.  Maybe Ralph was negligent, and maybe that will affect the animal for a long time.  That's included in the cost of doing this kind of business and -- in order to keep the marketplace running smoothly -- society absorbs some of that cost.

Rav Papa says, since Case II says that nurture is king, Case I must agree.  That being the case, why does the animal get treated as certified violent when Ralph took control?  Even though the ox is under Ralph's stewardship, Leon is still his owner and the ox (as well as everyone else) knows that.  So in Case I there was no "change in responsibility", but "addition of responsibility".  The animal therefore retains whatever nurture he already had while waiting to be rented and remains that way even when rented out.

Not completely clear?  Good... that means you understand; there are very fundamental forces at work here and I have left lots (oodles and oodles) of details to the interested reader.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…