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Thought for the Day: Helping a Robber -- Unintentional and Forced; Part I

The gemara (Bava Kama 117a) teaches that if Shimon is forced by robbers to show them where his friend Leivi keeps his money, then Shimon does not need to reimburse Leivi for his loss.  If, however, Shimon is threatened with bodily harm unless he gives them some money and he says, "Wait! I know where Leivi has some money stashed, let me get it for you!", then Shimon is obligated to repay Leivi.  Rava adds that if Shimon, in no immediate danger, simply points out to some robbers where Leivi keeps his money and thy take it, then it is as if Shimon went himself to take Leivi's money and hand it over to the robbers.

Another concept, one that you will find all over Sha"s is that of grama and garmi.  Both mean to indirectly cause a financial loss to another Jew; grama is more indirect and that perpetrator is exempt from paying, garmi is less indirect -- even verging on being direct -- and the perpetrator of that is liable for the damages.  Note that exempt and liable here refer how an earthly beis din/Jewish court would rule.  In both cases, however, "klapei shmaiya"/in heaven he is certainly liable.  An example of grama would be throwing someone's money into the ocean, thus forcing him to hire divers to retrieve his money.  An example of garmi would be where Shimon has set up cushions on the sidewalk so he can throw some furniture down, and Reuvein diverts the falling furniture to miss the pillows.  Shimon didn't break anything, but close enough for beis din (down here, even) to levy a fine.  (It's not really a fine, of course, it's paying damages; but I needed "levy" for the pun.)

After that setup, here's the case.  Shimon is a diamond merchant and is going on vacation with his family. He is nervous about calling a cab to take him to the airport because he has heard that some cabbies work in collusion with teams of robbers.  Cabbie takes mark to airport, calls robbers that house is empty; rotten end to nice vacation.  Shimon suddenly had a great idea: he called the cab and asked to be picked up at an address down the street... the address of his direct competitor and enemy, Leivi (who, as it happens, is already on vacation).  Shimon goes to his vacation completely at ease and has a great time.  Leivi, however, got the rotten end to his vacation; it wasn't just a rumor about those cabbies, unfortunately.  After Shimon is home for a while, he starts to have second thoughts (nice, Shimon, really nice...).

The p'sak hinges on how to understand Rava.  Shimon did, effectively, show the robbers where Leivi's property was; so maybe he is obligated to reimburse Leivi for his loss.  On the other hand, the robbers weren't there and not all cabbies are collusively inclined (yes, I made that word up).  Moreover, Tosofos on the daf explains that Rava's p'sak applies only if it is absolutely a done deal that they can get to the money.  Maybe Leivi has an alarm system, or really good locks (probably both).  At the end of the day, it is ruled this is at worst a safeik grama, so Shimon is patur.

End of story, right?  Shimon says "whew!" and is done with it.  Not so fast.  First, the Sefer Chasidim says that to do t'shuva shleima in such a case, one must reimburse the loss.  Beis Din can't force him, but shamayim doesn't need to (and, apparently won't) accept his t'shuva until retribution is made.  But there's more, R' Zalman Nechemia Goldberg rules that the fact that beis din can't force payment actually makes grama worse than garmi.  In the case of garmi, one fulfills his Torah obligation be paying the damages owed as assessed by beis din.  In the case of grama (or less), though, the person is just as guilty, but his obligations don't get the advantage of being limited by beis din.  The gorem (the one who did the grama) actually needs to make three payments to his victim: (1) the actual loss; (2) the profit the victim was denied by not having the funds available; (3) the pain and mental anguish that the victim suffered.

Another example of why its really better to have those second thoughts before the first ones.


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