1

The following law applies when a person entrusts an article to a colleague without charge, and it is lost or stolen. The watchman is required to take an oath that the entrusted article was lost or stolen. He is then freed of liability, as Exodus 22:6-7 states: 'If it is stolen from the person's house..., the owner of the house shall approach the court and take an oath that he did not extend his hands to his colleague's undertakings.'

When he takes that oath, based on the convention of gilgul sh'vuah,the watchman must also include in the oath:

a) that he was not negligent, but rather guarded the article in the ordinary manner watchmen do, and

b) that he did not use the article for his personal use before if it was stolen. For if the article was stolen after he used it for his own purposes, he is responsible for it.

א

הַמַּפְקִיד אֵצֶל חֲבֵרוֹ בְּחִנָּם וְנִגְנַב אוֹ אָבַד הֲרֵי זֶה נִשְׁבָּע וְנִפְטָר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כב ו) "וְגֻנַּב מִבֵּית הָאִישׁ" וְגוֹ' (שמות כב ז) "וְנִקְרַב בַּעַל הַבַּיִת אֶל הָאֱלֹהִים אִם לֹא שָׁלַח יָדוֹ בִּמְלֶאכֶת רֵעֵהוּ". וּמְגַלְגְּלִין עָלָיו בְּתוֹךְ הַשְּׁבוּעָה שֶׁלֹּא פָּשַׁע אֶלָּא שָׁמַר כְּדֶרֶךְ הַשּׁוֹמְרִין וְלֹא שָׁלַח בּוֹ יָד וְאַחַר נִגְנַב. שֶׁאִם נִגְנַב אַחַר שֶׁשָּׁלַח יָד בַּפִּקָּדוֹן חַיָּב בְּאַחֲרָיוּתוֹ:

2

Since the Torah freed an unpaid watchman from responsibility when an article was stolen, we can certainly infer that he is freed of responsibility when the entrusted object is destroyed by major factors beyond the watchman's control; for example, an animal was injured, taken captive or died.

This leniency applies provided that the watchman does not misappropriate the entrusted article. If, however, he misappropriates the entrusted article, he is liable even though it is destroyed by forces beyond his control.

What is meant by 'in the ordinary manner watchmen do'? Everything depends on the entrusted article. There are certain entrusted articles that the manner in which they are watched is by placing them in a gatehouse - for example, beams and rocks. There are other entrusted articles that the manner in which they are watched is by placing them in a courtyard - for example, large packages of flax and the like. There are other entrusted articles that the manner in which they are watched is by placing them in a house - for example, dressings and garments. There are other entrusted articles that the manner in which they are watched is by placing them in a locked chest or a locked cabinet - e.g., silk clothes, silver objects, golden objects, and the like.

ב

הוֹאִיל וּפָטַר הַכָּתוּב אֶת שׁוֹמֵר חִנָּם מִן הַגְּנֵבָה קַל וָחֹמֶר מִן הָאֳנָסִין הַגְּדוֹלִים כְּגוֹן שְׁבוּרָה וּשְׁבוּיָה וּמֵתָה וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא שָׁלַח יָד בַּפִּקָּדוֹן אֲבָל שָׁלַח יָד בַּפִּקָּדוֹן חַיָּב בְּאֳנָסָיו. כֵּיצַד דֶּרֶךְ הַשּׁוֹמְרִים. הַכּל לְפִי הַפִּקָּדוֹן. יֵשׁ פִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ שְׁמִירָתוֹ לְהַנִּיחוֹ בְּבֵית שַׁעַר כְּגוֹן הַקּוֹרוֹת וְהָאֲבָנִים. וְיֵשׁ פִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ שְׁמִירָתוֹ לְהַנִּיחוֹ בֶּחָצֵר כְּגוֹן חֲבִילוֹת פִּשְׁתָּן הַגְּדוֹלוֹת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. וְיֵשׁ פִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ שְׁמִירָתוֹ לְהַנִּיחוֹ בַּבַּיִת כְּגוֹן שִׂמְלָה וְטַלִּית. וְיֵשׁ פִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ שְׁמִירָתוֹ לְהַנִּיחוֹ בְּתֵבָה אוֹ בְּמִגְדָּל וְנוֹעֵל עָלָיו כְּגוֹן בִּגְדֵי מֶשִׁי וּכְלֵי כֶּסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן:

3

When a watchman placed an object in an inappropriate place and it was stolen from there or lost, he is considered negligent and is required to make restitution. This law applies even if it was destroyed by forces beyond the watchman's control - e.g., a fire broke out and consumed the entire house . It makes no difference whether the watchman placed the entrusted article together with his own property or not. If the place is fit for safekeeping, he is not liable. If it is not fit for safekeeping, he is liable. He may be careless with his own property. He does not have the right to treat another person's property in that manner.

ג

הַשּׁוֹמֵר שֶׁהִנִּיחַ הַפִּקָּדוֹן בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָאוּי לוֹ וְנִגְנַב מִשָּׁם אוֹ אָבַד אֲפִלּוּ נֶאֱנַס שָׁם כְּגוֹן שֶׁנָּפְלָה דְּלֵקָה וְשָׂרַף כָּל הַבַּיִת הֲרֵי זֶה פּוֹשֵׁעַ וְחַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִנִּיחַ הַפִּקָּדוֹן עִם שֶׁלּוֹ אִם רָאוּי לִשְׁמִירָה פָּטוּר וְאִם אֵין הַמָּקוֹם רָאוּי לִשְׁמִירָה חַיָּב. בְּשֶׁלּוֹ הוּא רַשַּׁאי וְאֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי בְּשֶׁל אֲחֵרִים:

4

The only appropriate way of guarding silver coins and dinarim of gold is to bury them in the ground, placing at least a handbreadth of earth over them, or to hide them in a wall within a handbreadth of the ceiling.

They should not be hidden in the midst of the wall, lest the thieves check thereand steal them. Even if a person locked them securely in a chest or hid them in a place where a person would not recognize or be aware of them, he is considered negligent and is liable to make restitution.

Several men of understanding have ruled that the same rules apply with regard to any object that is light and will not be destroyed speedily in the ground - e.g., slabs of silver. Needless to say, this applies to slabs of gold and to jewels. The only appropriate way of guarding such objects is in the ground. I tend to support this ruling.

ד

הַכְּסָפִים וְהַדִּינָרִין אֵין לָהֶם שְׁמִירָה אֶלָּא בַּקַּרְקַע וְיִתֵּן עֲלֵיהֶם טֶפַח עָפָר. אוֹ יִטְמְנֵם בַּכֹּתֶל בַּטֶּפַח הַסָּמוּךְ לַקּוֹרָה. אֲבָל לֹא בְּאֶמְצַע הַכֹּתֶל שֶׁמָּא יַחְפְּרוּ הַגַּנָּבִים שָׁם וְיִגְנְבוּ. אֲפִלּוּ נָעַל עֲלֵיהֶם כָּרָאוּי בְּתֵבָה אוֹ הֶחְבִּיא אוֹתָם בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין אָדָם מַכִּירוֹ וְלֹא מַרְגִּישׁ בּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה פּוֹשֵׁעַ וְחַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם. הוֹרוּ מִקְצָת הַמְּבִינִים שֶׁהוּא הַדִּין לְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁמַּשָּׂאוֹ קַל וְאֵין הַקַּרְקַע מְאַבֶּדֶת אוֹתוֹ בִּמְהֵרָה כְּגוֹן לְשׁוֹנוֹת שֶׁל כֶּסֶף וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר לְשׁוֹנוֹת שֶׁל זָהָב וַאֲבָנִים טוֹבוֹת שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם שְׁמִירָה אֶלָּא בַּקַּרְקַע. וְלָזֶה דַּעְתִּי נוֹטֶה:

5

When a person entrusts money to a colleague on Friday afternoon between the setting of the sun and the appearance of the stars, the watchman is not obligated to undertake the difficulty of burying it until Saturday night. If, however, he delayed burying it on Saturday night and before he buried it that night, it was stolen or destroyed by factors beyond his control, he is liable. If he is a Torah scholar, the watchman is not liable if he waits until after havdalah to bury it.

ה

הַמַּפְקִיד אֵצֶל חֲבֵרוֹ כְּסָפִים עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת בֵּין הַשְּׁמָשׁוֹת אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לִטְרֹחַ וְלִקְבֹּר אוֹתָן עַד מוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת. וְאִם נִתְאַחֵר לְמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת כְּדֵי לְקָבְרָן וְלֹא קְבָרָן וְנִגְנְבוּ אוֹ נֶאֶנְסוּ חַיָּב. וְאִם תַּלְמִיד חָכָם הוּא אֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁהֵא אַחַר שֶׁיַּבְדִּיל כְּדֵי לְקָבְרָן:

6

When a person entrusts money to a colleague on a journey to bring to his home, or sends money with him from one place to another, the money must be bound in a packet and held in the watchman's hand or tied on his stomach opposite his faceand carried in this fashion until he reaches his home and buries it in the appropriate manner. If he did not tie it in this manner, even if the money was lost because of factors beyond the watchman's control, he is liable. The rationale is that at the outset, he was negligent.

An incident once occurred concerning a person who entrusted money to a colleague. The colleague placed the money in a partition made from reeds. The money was hidden in the midst of the partition and was stolen from there. When the matter was brought to the Sages, they said: Although this is an excellent manner of guarding to prevent theft,it is not a proper place to guard money in the event of fire. Since he did not bury it in the ground or the walls of a building, he is considered negligent. Whenever a person is negligent in his care for the article at the outset, even if it is ultimately destroyed by forces beyond his control, he is liable. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ו

הִפְקִיד אֵצֶל חֲבֵרוֹ כְּסָפִים בַּדֶּרֶךְ לְהוֹלִיכָם לְבֵיתוֹ אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁלַח עִמּוֹ מָעוֹת מִמָּקוֹם לְמָקוֹם צְרִיכִין שֶׁיִּהְיוּ צְרוּרִים וּמֻנָּחִים בְּיָדוֹ אוֹ קְשׁוּרִים כָּרָאוּי עַל בִּטְנוֹ מִכְּנֶגֶד פָּנָיו עַד שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לְבֵיתוֹ וְיִקְבְּרֵם כָּרָאוּי. וְאִם לֹא קְשָׁרָן בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֹּאת אֲפִלּוּ נֶאֶנְסוּ חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם שֶׁהֲרֵי תְּחִלָּתוֹ בִּפְשִׁיעָה. מַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁהִפְקִיד מָעוֹת אֵצֶל חֲבֵרוֹ וְהִנִּיחָם בִּמְחִצָּה שֶׁל קָנִים וְהָיוּ טְמוּנִים בָּעֳבִי הַמְּחִצָּה וְנִגְנְבוּ מִשָּׁם וְאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁזּוֹ שְׁמִירָה מְעֻלָּה לְעִנְיַן גְּנֵבָה אֵינָהּ שְׁמִירָה כָּרָאוּי לְעִנְיַן הָאֵשׁ וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁלֹּא טְמָנוֹ בְּקַרְקַע אוֹ בְּכֹתֶל בִּנְיָן פּוֹשֵׁעַ הוּא וְכָל שֶׁתְּחִלָּתוֹ בִּפְשִׁיעָה וְסוֹפוֹ בְּאֹנֶס חַיָּב. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

7

The following law applies when a person entrusts either articles or money to a colleague. Should the owner demand of the watchman: 'Give me my entrusted article,' and the watchman tells him: 'I do not know where I placed the entrusted article,' or 'I do not know where I buried the money. Wait; I will look for it, find it and return it to you,' he is considered negligent and is required to make restitution immediately.

ז

הַמַּפְקִיד אֵצֶל חֲבֵרוֹ בֵּין כֵּלִים בֵּין מָעוֹת וְאָמַר לוֹ תֵּן לִי פִּקְדוֹנִי וְאָמַר לוֹ הַשּׁוֹמֵר אֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ אָנָּה הִנַּחְתִּי פִּקָּדוֹן זֶה אוֹ בְּאֵי זֶה מָקוֹם קָבַרְתִּי הַכְּסָפִים הַמְתֵּן לִי עַד שֶׁאֲבַקֵּשׁ וְאֶמְצָא וְאַחְזִיר לְךָ הֲרֵי זֶה פּוֹשֵׁעַ וְחַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם מִיָּד:

8

Whenever a person entrusts either articles or money to a colleague, he entrusts them with the understanding that they may be placed in the care of the person's wife, children or other members of his household who are above the age of majority. If, however, the watchman gave the entrusted article to his sons or the members of his household who are below majority, his servants - whether they are above or below majority - or one of his relatives who does not dwell in his home and is not dependent on his larder - needless, to say, this applies if he gives the article to a stranger - he is considered negligent and is required to make restitution, unless the second watchman brings proof that he was not negligent, as we have explained.

An incident occurred with regard to a person who entrusted money to a colleague. The watchman gave the money to his mother, who hid it but did not bury it. Our Sages ruled: The watchman is not liable to pay, because he gave the money to his mother, and whenever a person entrusts an article to a colleague, he entrusts it with the understanding that it may be placed in the care of his sons or the members of his household.

Even though the watchman did not tell his mother that the money was not his, but had been entrusted to him, he is not liable, for he could claim: 'Certainly, she would have cared for it more carefully if she thought it belonged to me.' Similarly, his mother is not liable, because he did not tell her that the money was entrusted to him.

Our Sages ruled: The watchman must take an oath that the money that was entrusted to him was the money that he gave his mother, and the mother must take an oath that she hid it and it was stolen. Afterwards, they are both absolved of liability. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ח

כָּל הַמַּפְקִיד אֵצֶל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת בֵּין כֵּלִים בֵּין מָעוֹת עַל דַּעַת אִשְׁתּוֹ וּבָנָיו וּבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ הַגְּדוֹלִים הוּא מַפְקִיד. אֲבָל אִם מְסָרָן לְבָנָיו וּבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ הַקְּטַנִּים אוֹ לַעֲבָדָיו בֵּין גְּדוֹלִים בֵּין קְטַנִּים אוֹ לְאֶחָד מִקְּרוֹבָיו שֶׁאֵינָן שְׁרוּיִין עִמּוֹ בַּבַּיִת וְאֵין סוֹמְכִין עַל שֻׁלְחָנוֹ וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם מְסָרָן לְאַחֵר הֲרֵי זֶה פּוֹשֵׁעַ וְחַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הֵבִיא הַשּׁוֹמֵר הַשֵּׁנִי רְאָיָה שֶׁלֹּא פָּשַׁע כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. מַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁהִפְקִיד מָעוֹת אֵצֶל חֲבֵרוֹ וּנְתָנָם הַשּׁוֹמֵר לְאִמּוֹ וְהֶחְבִּיאָה אוֹתָן וְלֹא טָמְנָה אוֹתָן וְנִגְנְבוּ וְאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אֵין הַשּׁוֹמֵר חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנְּתָנָם לְאִמּוֹ שֶׁכָּל הַמַּפְקִיד עַל דַּעַת בָּנָיו וּבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ הוּא מַפְקִיד וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא אָמַר לָהּ פִּקָּדוֹן הֵם יֵשׁ לוֹ לִטְעֹן כָּל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁהִיא נִזְהֶרֶת בָּהֶן אִם הָיְתָה סְבוּרָה שֶׁהֵן שֶׁלִּי. וְכֵן אֵין אִמּוֹ חַיֶּבֶת לְשַׁלֵּם שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא אָמַר לָהּ שֶׁהֵן פִּקָּדוֹן. וְאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים יִשָּׁבַע הַשּׁוֹמֵר שֶׁאוֹתָן הַמָּעוֹת עַצְמָן הֵן שֶׁנְּתָנָן לְאִמּוֹ וְתִשָּׁבַע הָאֵם שֶׁהֶחְבִּיאָה אוֹתָן וְנִגְנְבוּ וְיִפָּטְרוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

9

From the above, one may conclude that should a watchman give an entrusted article to his wife or to the members of his household and inform them that it was an entrusted article, if they did not guard it in a manner appropriate for a watchman, they are liable to pay the owner, and the person originally appointed as a watchman is not liable. The rationale is that whenever a person entrusts either articles or money to a colleague, he entrusts them with the understanding that they may be placed in the care of the person's wife or children.

An incident occurred with regard to a person who entrusted hops to a colleague. That colleague had other hops in his possession. The colleague told his attendant: 'Place these hops into the beer.' The attendant erred and took the hops that had been entrusted instead.

The Sages ruled that the attendant is not liable, because the watchman did not tell him: 'Place these hops, and do not place those hops.' Therefore, the attendant thought that he was merely recommending one pile, but not insisting on it. The owner is also not liable, because he instructed him to take the hops from his own pile. He is required to make restitution only for the benefit he received. Therefore, if the beer becomes vinegar, he is not liable to pay anything. Regardless of the outcome, the watchman is required to take an oath that these in fact were the circumstances. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ט

מִכָּאן אַתָּה לָמֵד שֶׁהַשּׁוֹמֵר שֶׁמָּסַר הַפִּקָּדוֹן לְאִשְׁתּוֹ וּבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ וְהוֹדִיעָן שֶׁהוּא פִּקָּדוֹן וְלֹא שָׁמְרוּ כְּדֶרֶךְ הַשּׁוֹמְרִין שֶׁהֵן חַיָּבִין לְשַׁלֵּם לְבַעַל הַפִּקָּדוֹן וּבַעַל הַבַּיִת פָּטוּר שֶׁכָּל הַמַּפְקִיד עַל דַּעַת אִשְׁתּוֹ וּבָנָיו הוּא מַפְקִיד. מַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁהִפְקִיד כְּשׁוּת אֵצֶל אֶחָד וְהָיָה לוֹ לַשּׁוֹמֵר כְּשׁוּת אַחֶרֶת וְאָמַר לְשַׁמָּשׁוֹ מִזֶּה הַכְּשׁוּת תַּשְׁלִיךְ לְתוֹךְ הַשֵּׁכָר וְהָלַךְ הַשַּׁמָּשׁ וְהִשְׁלִיךְ מִכְּשׁוּת שֶׁל פִּקָּדוֹן. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁהַשַּׁמָּשׁ פָּטוּר שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא אָמַר מִזֶּה הַשְׁלֵךְ וּמִזֶּה אַל תַּשְׁלֵךְ וְדִמָּה שֶׁהוּא מַרְאֶה מָקוֹם וְאֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד עַל זֶה. וְכֵן בַּעַל הַבַּיִת פָּטוּר שֶׁהֲרֵי אָמַר לוֹ מִזֶּה הַשְׁלֵךְ וְאֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם אֶלָּא דְּמֵי מַה שֶּׁנֶּהֱנָה בִּלְבַד. לְפִיכָךְ אִם נַעֲשָׂה הַשֵּׁכָר חֹמֶץ פָּטוּר מִלְּשַׁלֵּם. וּבֵין כָּךְ וּבֵין כָּךְ חַיָּב הַשּׁוֹמֵר שְׁבוּעָה שֶׁכָּךְ אֵרַע. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה: