ב"ה

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Hilchot Nizkei Mamon - Chapter Eight

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Hilchot Nizkei Mamon - Chapter Eight

1

When an ox belonging to an Israelite gores an ox that was consecrated1 or an ox that was consecrated gores an ox belonging to an Israelite, [the owner of the goring ox] is not liable, [as implied by Exodus 21:35]: "[If one person's ox injures] an ox belonging to a colleague...."2 All consecrated entities for which one is held liable for using them for one's own purposes3 are not bound by the laws of damages.4 Animals that were consecrated and then disqualified5 are bound by the laws of damages. This applies regardless of whether it is they who cause the damage, or they who are damaged. For they have been redeemed and can be considered ordinary.6

א

שׁוֹר שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁנָּגַח שׁוֹר שֶׁל הֶקְדֵּשׁ אוֹ שׁוֹר שֶׁל הֶקְדֵּשׁ שֶׁנָּגַח שׁוֹר שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל פָּטוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא לה) "שׁוֹר רֵעֵהוּ". וְכָל הַקָּדָשִׁים שֶׁחַיָּבִין בָּהֶן מְעִילָה אֵין בָּהֶן דִּין נְזָקִין. וּפְסוּלֵי הַמֻּקְדָּשִׁין יֵשׁ בָּהֶן דִּין נְזָקִין בֵּין שֶׁהִזִּיקוּ בֵּין שֶׁהֻזְּקוּ שֶׁהֲרֵי יָצְאוּ לַפִּדְיוֹן וְלִהְיוֹתָם חֻלִּין:

2

When [an animal consecrated for] a peace offering causes damage, the damages may be collected from its meat.7 [The person whose property was damaged] does not, however, collect his due from the portions burned on the altar. For the prohibition against using consecrated property for one's own purposes applies to the portions of sacrifices of lesser sanctity8 burned on the altar, as explained in Hilchot Me'ilah.9 Similarly, [if an animal consecrated for] a thanksgiving offering causes damage, the damages may be collected from its meat. They may not, however, be collected from the bread that accompanies it,10 for the bread is not considered to be part of the meat.

ב

שְׁלָמִים שֶׁהִזִּיקוּ גּוֹבֶה מִבְּשָׂרָם וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה מִן הַבָּשָׂר כְּנֶגֶד אֵימוּרֵיהֶן. שֶׁהָאֵימוּרִים שֶׁל קָדָשִׁים קַלִּים מוֹעֲלִין בָּהֶן כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת מְעִילָה. וְכֵן תּוֹדָה שֶׁהִזִּיקָה גּוֹבֶה מִבְּשָׂרָהּ וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה מִן הַלֶּחֶם הַבָּא עִמָּהּ שֶׁאֵין הַלֶּחֶם מִכְּלַל בָּשָׂר:

3

How can [the person whose property was damaged] collect [his due]? He and his company should eat, in a holy manner, a portion of the meat equivalent to half the damages he suffered.11 What is meant by the statement that [the person whose property was damaged] does not, however, collect his due from the portions burned on the altar? That if half the damages he suffered was equivalent to a dinar, and the meat and the portions to be offered on the altar together were worth two dinarim, but the meat without the portions to be offered was worth only a dinar and a half, [the person whose property was damaged] receives only half the meat, and not two thirds of the meat.

ג

וְכֵיצַד גּוֹבֶה. שֶׁיֹּאכַל הַנִּזָּק וַחֲבוּרָתוֹ מִן הַבָּשָׂר בִּקְדֻשָּׁה כְּנֶגֶד חֲצִי נֵזֶק שֶׁלּוֹ. וְכֵיצַד אֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה כְּנֶגֶד הָאֵימוּרִין. שֶׁאִם הָיָה לוֹ לִגְבּוֹת בַּחֲצִי נִזְקוֹ שְׁוֵה דִּינָר וְהָיָה כָּל הַבָּשָׂר עִם הָאֵימוּרִין שָׁוֶה שְׁנֵי דִּינָרִים וְהַבָּשָׂר בְּלֹא אֵימוּרִין שָׁוֶה דִּינָר וָחֵצִי אֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה שְׁנֵי שְׁלִישִׁי הַבָּשָׂר אֶלָּא חֲצִי הַבָּשָׂר בִּלְבַד:

4

Similarly, an ox that is ownerless and causes damage is also not held responsible for the damage it causes. [This is also derived from the phrase,] "an ox belonging to a colleague," implying that the ox must be defined as the property of an owner. What is implied? When an ox that is ownerless gores [another ox], and before the person whose property was damaged takes possession of [the goring ox] another person does so, that other person is not liable for the damages.12Moreover, even if an ox that is defined as the property of an owner causes damage, and afterwards the owner consecrates it or declares it ownerless, [payment is] not expropriated [from the body of the ox]. [For payment to be expropriated], it must be owned by one person at the time it caused the damage and at the time of the trial.13

ד

וְכֵן שׁוֹר הֶפְקֵר שֶׁהִזִּיק פָּטוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא לה) "שׁוֹר רֵעֵהוּ" עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הַנְּכָסִים מְיֻחָדִים לַבְּעָלִים. כֵּיצַד. שׁוֹר הַהֶפְקֵר שֶׁנָּגַח וְקֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתְפּשֹׁ אוֹתוֹ הַנִּזָּק בָּא אַחֵר וְזָכָה בּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שׁוֹר הַמְיֻחָד לַבְּעָלִים שֶׁהִזִּיק וְאַחַר שֶׁהִזִּיק הִקְדִּישׁוֹ אוֹ הִפְקִירוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ לוֹ בְּעָלִים בִּשְׁעַת הֶזֵּקוֹ וּבִשְׁעַת הַעֲמָדָה בַּדִּין:

5

When an ox - whether a tam or a mu'ad - belonging to a Jew gores an ox belonging to a gentile, [the Jew] is not liable. [The rationale is] that the gentiles do not hold a person responsible for damage caused by his livestock.14 Therefore we judge this case according to their laws.15 When, by contrast, an ox - whether a tam or a mu'ad - belonging to a gentile gores an ox belonging to a Jew, [the gentile] must pay the entire amount of the damages. This is a penalty imposed upon the gentiles because they are not careful about [the observance of] the mitzvot,16 and they do not remove factors that can cause damage. If we will not hold them liable for the damage caused by their animals, they will not guard them, and [the animals] will destroy other people's property.

ה

שׁוֹר שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁנָּגַח שׁוֹר שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם בֵּין תָּם בֵּין מוּעָד פָּטוּר. לְפִי שֶׁאֵין הָעַכּוּ''ם מְחַיְּבִין אֶת הָאָדָם עַל בְּהֶמְתּוֹ שֶׁהִזִּיקָה וַהֲרֵי אָנוּ דָּנִין לָהֶם כְּדִינֵיהֶם. וְשׁוֹר שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁנָּגַח שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל בֵּין תָּם בֵּין מוּעָד מְשַׁלֵּם נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם. קְנָס הוּא זֶה לְעַכּוּ''ם לְפִי שֶׁאֵינָן זְהִירִין בְּמִצְוֹת וְאֵינָן מְסַלְּקִין הַנֵּזֶק וְאִם לֹא תְּחַיֵּב אוֹתָן עַל נִזְקֵי בְּהֶמְתָּן אֵין מְשַׁמְּרִין אוֹתָהּ וּמַפְסִידִין מָמוֹן הַבְּרִיּוֹת:

6

When an ox that is tam causes damage and then is sold by its owner before the trial takes place, the person whose property was damaged may collect his due from it17 despite the fact that it was sold.18 Afterwards, the purchaser should collect that sum from the [previous] owner who sold it to him. [The rationale for this ruling is]19 that once an ox has gored, the matter becomes known, and the purchaser should not have purchased the animal until the one whose property was damaged had collected his due.

ו

שׁוֹר תָּם שֶׁהִזִּיק אִם מְכָרוֹ הַמַּזִּיק עַד שֶׁלֹּא עָמַד בַּדִּין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מָכוּר הֲרֵי הַנִּזָּק גּוֹבֶה הֵימֶנּוּ וְחוֹזֵר הַלּוֹקֵחַ וְגוֹבֶה מִן הַמַּזִּיק שֶׁמָּכַר לוֹ. שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁנָּגַח קוֹל יֵשׁ לוֹ וְלֹא הָיָה לוֹ לַלּוֹקֵחַ לִקַּח עַד שֶׁיִּגְבֶּה הַנִּזָּק:

7

If [the owner of an ox that] caused damage consecrates [the ox], it is consecrated. [This law was instituted] so that people will not say, "An animal that was consecrated can lose its status without being redeemed."20 [If the owner] slaughters the ox, [the person whose property was damaged] may collect his due from the meat.21 [If the owner] gives it away as a present, [the present] is binding,22 but [the person whose property was damaged] may collect his due from [the animal].

ז

הִקְדִּישׁוֹ הַמַּזִּיק הֲרֵי זֶה מֻקְדָּשׁ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ הֶקְדֵּשׁ יוֹצֵא בְּלֹא פִּדְיוֹן. שְׁחָטוֹ גּוֹבֶה מִבְּשָׂרוֹ. נְתָנוֹ בְּמַתָּנָה מַה שֶּׁעָשָׂה עָשׂוּי וְיִגְבֶּה הַנִּזָּק מִמֶּנּוּ:

8

If [an ox] caused damage, there was a trial, and afterwards, [the owner] sold it, the sale is of no consequence. If he consecrated it, it is not consecrated, and if he gave it away as a present, the present is of no consequence.23 If the creditors of the owner [of the ox] seize it first, [to collect their due from it], they are not entitled to retain possession. Instead, the person whose property was damaged collects his due from it. This applies whether the debt was undertaken before the damage was done24 or afterwards. [The rationale is] that even if it belonged to the creditors at the outset and caused damage, [the person whose property was damaged] would be entitled to collect his due.25

ח

הִזִּיק וְעָמַד בַּדִּין וְאַחַר כָּךְ מְכָרוֹ אֵינוֹ מָכוּר. הִקְדִּישׁוֹ אֵינוֹ מֻקְדָּשׁ. נְתָנוֹ בְּמַתָּנָה לֹא עָשָׂה וְלֹא כְּלוּם. קָדְמוּ בַּעֲלֵי חוֹבוֹת שֶׁל מַזִּיק וּתְפָסוּהוּ בֵּין שֶׁחָב עַד שֶׁלֹּא הִזִּיק בֵּין הִזִּיק עַד שֶׁלֹּא חָב לֹא זָכוּ אֶלָּא הַנִּזָּק גּוֹבֶה מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ הָיָה שֶׁל בַּעֲלֵי חוֹבוֹת מִתְּחִלָּה וְהִזִּיק הֲרֵי זֶה גּוֹבֶה מִגּוּפוֹ:

9

[The following rules apply when] an ox that is mu'ad causes damage: Regardless of whether the trial took place already or not, if [the owner] has consecrated it, sold it, given it as a present or slaughtered it, his deed is binding. If the creditors of the owner lead [the ox] away before [the person whose property was damaged takes possession of it], they acquire it. [This applies] whether the debt owed them was made before the damage took place or afterwards.26 [The rationale is that] the person whose property was damaged is entitled to collect his due from the choicest property belonging to the owner. All of [the owner's] property is on lien because of the damage caused.27

ט

מוּעָד שֶׁהִזִּיק בֵּין עָמַד בַּדִּין בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא עָמַד בַּדִּין וְהִקְדִּישׁוֹ אוֹ מְכָרוֹ אוֹ נְתָנוֹ בְּמַתָּנָה אוֹ שְׁחָטוֹ. מַה שֶּׁעָשָׂה עָשׂוּי. קָדְמוּ בַּעֲלֵי חוֹבוֹת וְהִנְהִיגוּהוּ בֵּין חָב עַד שֶׁלֹּא הִזִּיק בֵּין הִזִּיק עַד שֶׁלֹּא חָב זָכוּ בּוֹ. לְפִי שֶׁאֵין מִשְׁתַּלֵּם הַנִּזָּק אֶלָּא מִן הַמְעֻלֶּה שֶׁבְּנִכְסֵי הַמַּזִּיק וַהֲרֵי כָּל נְכָסָיו מְשֻׁעְבָּדִין לְנֶזֶק זֶה:

10

When the court is required to expropriate property belonging to the person who caused the damages for the person whose property was damaged,28 the movable property [of the person who caused the damages] should be expropriated first.29 If he does not own any movable property, or the property he owns is not sufficient to pay for all the damages, the remainder should be expropriated from the choicest properties he owns. As long as movable property is found, even property of inferior quality,30 landed property should not be expropriated.

י

כְּשֶׁבֵּית דִּין נִזְקָקִין לִגְבּוֹת לַנִּזָּק מִנִּכְסֵי הַמַּזִּיק גּוֹבִין מִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין תְּחִלָּה וְאִם לֹא הָיוּ לוֹ מִטַּלְטְלִין כְּלָל אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ לוֹ מִטַּלְטְלִין כְּנֶגֶד כָּל הַנֵּזֶק גּוֹבִין הַשְּׁאָר מִן הַקַּרְקַע הַמְעֻלָּה שֶׁבְּנִכְסֵי הַמַּזִּיק. וְכָל זְמַן שֶׁיִּמְצְאוּ מִטַּלְטְלִין וַאֲפִלּוּ סֻבִּין אֵין נִזְקָקִין לַקַּרְקַע:

11

If the person who caused the damage dies before he pays, the court does not expropriate the movable property belonging to his heirs. Instead, [they expropriate] the landed property [in the estate], taking that of least value.31 [The rationale is that] the person whose property was damaged becomes one of the creditors [of the person who caused the damage], and movable property is never considered to be on lien to a creditor. If the person whose property was damaged [seized] possession of movable property [belonging to] the person who caused the damage in the latter's lifetime, payment for the damages may be collected from this [movable property] after his death.

יא

מֵת הַמַּזִּיק קֹדֶם שֶׁיְּשַׁלֵּם אֵין בֵּית דִּין נִזְקָקִין לַמִּטַּלְטְלִין שֶׁל יְתוֹמִים אֶלָּא לַקַּרְקַע. וְגוֹבִין לַנִּזָּק מִן הַזִּבּוּרִית. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַנִּזָק נַעֲשָׂה כְּבַעַל חוֹב וְהַמִּטַּלְטְלִין אֵינָן מְשֻׁעְבָּדִין לְבַעַל חוֹב. וְאִם תָּפַס הַנִּזָּק הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין בְּחַיֵּי הַמַּזִּיק גּוֹבִין לוֹ מֵהֶם לְאַחַר מוֹתוֹ:

12

The Geonim have already ordained that a debt owed a creditor can be expropriated from the movable property [in the estate].32 This ruling has been accepted by all the [Jewish] courts of law.33 Therefore, damages may also be expropriated from movable property left to heirs. If [the deceased] did not leave any movable property, [the creditor] may expropriate the landed property of least value. For as explained [in the previous halachah], whenever a person seeks to expropriate property from heirs, he is given the property of the least value.

יב

כְּבָר תִּקְּנוּ הַגְּאוֹנִים לִגְבּוֹת בַּעַל חוֹב מִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין. וּפָשְׁטָה תַּקָּנָה זוֹ בְּכָל בָּתֵּי דִּינִין. לְפִיכָךְ מְגַבִּין הַנְּזָקִין מִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין שֶׁל יְתוֹמִים. וְאִם לֹא הִנִּיחַ מִטַּלְטְלִין גּוֹבִין לוֹ מִן הַזִּבּוּרִית שֶׁכָּל הַבָּא לִפָּרַע מִנִּכְסֵי יְתוֹמִים לֹא יִפָּרַע אֶלָּא מִן הַזִּבּוּרִית כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

13

Damages should not be collected, nor is an atonement fine imposed, nor is an animal executed34 unless definite proof is brought [as substantiated] by acceptable witnesses. We do not say that since only shepherds,35 servants,36 and the like are found in the stables of horses, the stalls of cattle and the corrals of sheep, their testimony should be accepted if they testify that one animal damaged another. Similarly, if minors or women37 testify that one person injured another or caused another type of damage, [one might think] that we rely on them. This is not so.38 Instead, financial redress is required because of the testimony of witnesses only when the witnesses are acceptable and fit to testify with regard to other matters, and they give testimony, [on which basis] the court obligates the one who caused the damage to pay.

יג

אֵין הַנְּזָקִין מִשְׁתַּלְּמִין וְאֵין חַיָּבִין בְּכֹפֶר וְאֵין הַבְּהֵמָה נֶהֱרֶגֶת אֶלָּא בִּרְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה וּבְעֵדִים הַכְּשֵׁרִים לְהָעִיד. שֶׁלֹּא תֹּאמַר הוֹאִיל וְאֵין מְצוּיִין בְּאֻרְווֹת הַסּוּסִים וּבְרֶפֶת הַבָּקָר וְגִדְרוֹת צֹאן אֶלָּא הָעֲבָדִים וְהָרוֹעִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אִם הֵעִידוּ שֶׁבְּהֵמָה זוֹ הִזִּיקָה אֶת זוֹ שׁוֹמְעִין לָהֶם וְאִם הֵעִידוּ קְטַנִּים אוֹ נָשִׁים שֶׁאָדָם זֶה חָבַל אֶת זֶה אוֹ הֵעִידוּ בִּשְׁאָר נְזָקִין סוֹמְכִין עֲלֵיהֶן. אֵין הַדָּבָר כֵּן. אֶלָּא אֵין מְחַיְּבִין לְעוֹלָם מָמוֹן עַל פִּי עֵדִים עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ עֵדִים הַכְּשֵׁרִים לְהָעִיד שְׁאָר עֵדֻיּוֹת וְיָעִידוּ וִיחַיְּבוּ בֵּית דִּין הַמַּזִּיק לְשַׁלֵּם:

14

When an ox was pasturing at the edge of a river, and another ox is found dead near him, even though the dead ox was gored, and this ox was prone to gore - or the dead ox was bitten and this ox was prone to bite - we do not say: "One can be certain that this bit it, or this gored it." Even if one of a group of camels is known to bite, and another camel is found dead at its side, we do not say that it is certain that this one killed it, unless the matter was observed by acceptable witnesses.39

יד

שׁוֹר שֶׁהָיָה רוֹעֶה עַל גַּבֵּי הַנָּהָר וְנִמְצָא שׁוֹר הָרוּג בְּצִדּוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁזֶּה מְנֻגָּח וְזֶה מוּעָד לִגַּח זֶה מְנֻשָּׁךְ וְזֶה מוּעָד לִשַּׁךְ. אֵין אוֹמְרִים בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁזֶּה נְשָׁכוֹ וְזֶה נְגָחוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ גָּמָל הָאוֹחֵר בֵּין הַגְּמַלִּים וְנִמְצָא [גָּמָל] הָרוּג בְּצִדּוֹ אֵין אוֹמְרִים בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁזֶּה הֲרָגוֹ עַד שֶׁרָאוּהוּ עֵדִים כְּשֵׁרִים:

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Footnotes
1.

I.e., the owner of the ox consecrated it to serve as a burned offering or a sin offering, or (if it was blemished) to donate its value to the Temple, but he did not bring it to the Temple as yet.

2.

One can infer that since the ox that is consecrated no longer belongs to a colleague, the laws that follow in the verse do not apply.

3.

See Hilchot Me'ilah, which describes these laws.

4.

For they are all considered to be consecrated unto God.

5.

See Hilchot Pesulei HaMukdashim, which describes when a consecrated animal is placed into this category. See Chapter 12, Halachah 21, from which it is evident that the liablity applies only when a disqualified animal was already redeemed. If it has not been redeemed, the owner is not liable.

6.

Although it is forbidden to work with, or shear these animals, they are still considered the private property of their owners and are thus an ox belonging to a colleague.

7.

Since the meat of a peace offering is eaten by the owners, the animal is still considered to be their personal property, despite the fact that it is consecrated. Therefore, payment for the damages can be expropriated from the meat.See the commentary of the Lechem Mishneh, who questions the apparent contradiction between the Rambam's ruling here and his ruling in Hilchot Geneivah 2:1.

8.

Those that may be eaten outside the Temple Courtyard.

9.

Hilchot Me'ilah 2:1.

10.

Forty loaves of bread are offered together with the thanksgiving offering. These are, however, considered to be a separate entity and are not on lien to the person whose property was damaged.

11.

I.e., as befits sacrifices of lesser sanctity.

12.

I.e., one might think that the person whose property was damaged might be entitled to expropriate the amount of the loss from the body of the ox. Nevertheless, since the ox was acquired by its present owner after the damage took place, he is not held responsible.

13.

Bava Kama 44b derives this concept from the exegesis of Exodus 21:29. If, however, the previous owner retakes possession of the ox, he is liable for the damages even though he declared it ownerless Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 406:3). With regard to the sale of the ox, see Halachah 6. (See also Halachah 8 and notes.)

14.

The Ra'avad differs with the rationale stated by the Rambam, and objects because the gentiles seize animals in lieu of payment for the damage that they cause. The Ra'avad maintains that by speaking of a colleague's ox, the Torah excludes one belonging to a gentile. The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 406:1) quote the Rambam's ruling.

15.

See Hilchot Melachim 10:12, which states:The following rules apply when there is a dispute between a Jew and an idolater: If the Jew will fare better according to their laws, they are judged according to their laws.... If the Jew will fare better according to our laws, they are judged according to Torah law.... It appears to me that this approach is not followed with regard to a resident alien. He is always judged according to their laws.See also the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Bava Kama 4:3), which echoes and expands upon this principle.

16.

It would appear that the intent of the word mitzvot, meaning commandments, is the seven universal laws commanded to Noach and his descendants. One of them is the law obligating societies to set up a system of civil law. See Bava Kama 38a.

17.

For the damages that an ox that is tam causes are collected from its body. Thus, it is as if the ox is on lien for the damages it caused.

18.

This implies that the sale is not nullified. The purchaser may plow with the ox directly after the purchase. Moreover, he cannot return it to the original owner because of the claim against it.

19.

I.e., why the purchaser is at all responsible for the damage the ox caused previously.

20.

Implied is that in essence the person whose property was damaged should be allowed to collect his due from the ox without redeeming it. Our Sages, however, did not allow this, because a person who knew that the ox was consecrated, but did not know that it had gored, might see it being given to the person whose property was damaged and think that an animal that was consecrated can lose its sacred status without being redeemed. Instead, they required that the person whose property was damaged redeem the ox for a minimal fee and then collect his due from it (Maggid Mishneh).The Chatam Sofer (Choshen Mishpat, Responsum 165) notes that there appears to be a contradiction between this halachah and Halachah 4. From Halachah 4, it appears that the person can consecrate the ox and thus totally nullify the lien of the person whose property was damaged. From this halachah, by contrast, it appears that the lien remains.In resolution, the Chatam Sofer makes a distinction between the sanctification of the value of the ox (as in this halachah), in which instance the lien remains, and the sanctification of the body of the ox (as in Halachah 4), in which instance the lien is nullified.

21.

The Tur and the Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 407:2) state that if the slaughter causes the value of the ox to depreciate, the owner must reimburse the person whose property was damaged for the loss.

22.

And therefore the recipient of the present may work with the animal.

23.

For the lien on the body of the ox possessed by the person whose property was damaged has now been firmly established. He thus becomes a partner in the ownership of the ox, and the original owner cannot carry out a sale without informing him.

24.

I.e., if the obligation were incumbent on the person whose ox caused the damage himself or on his property, those who had a prior claim would be entitled to take the ox as payment. In this instance, the obligation is associated with the body of the ox itself, and therefore the person whose property was damaged is entitled to the ox for the reason mentioned by the Rambam.

25.

The Rambam's ruling is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 407:4). The Tur and the Ramah differ and state that if the owner of the ox had already designated the ox as payment for a specific debt that existed before the damage took place, that creditor has a right to the ox.

26.

According to Talmudic law, an earlier debt takes precedence over a later one with regard to landed property. With regard to movable property, by contrast, whichever creditor takes control of an asset first is entitled to it.

27.

This explains the fundamental difference between damage caused by a tam and a mu'ad. When a tam causes damage, its own body is on lien for the damage; the damage is not considered to be a debt owed by the owner of the ox. When, in contrast, a mu'ad causes damage, the opposite is true. The person whose property was damaged has no claim to the ox itself; his claim is borne by all the holdings of its owner.

28.

These laws, though applicable to damage caused by an ox that is mu'ad, apply to all other cases of damage for which a person is held responsible.

29.

Bava Kama 7b explains that movable property is considered to be easier to sell after it has been expropriated than landed property. Therefore, it is considered to be choicer and should be given priority.Sefer Me'irat Einayim 419:1 writes that the person who caused the damages has the prerogative of giving the person whose property he damaged movable property or landed property, whichever he desires. The Siftei Cohen 419:2 differs and states that according to the Rambam, the Beit Yosef and others, if the person who caused the damages possesses movable property, he must pay in movable property, regardless of whether or not he desires.

30.

The Hebrew term used by the Rambam literally means bran. As long as the person pays for the damage with movable property, the quality of the movable property with which he pays is of no consequence. The Hagahot Maimoniot state that according to the Rambam and Rabbenu Yitzchak Alfasi, even if the person who caused the damage possesses cash, he may pay the person whose property he damaged with movable property of inferior quality.Although there is debate concerning this concept among the commentaries, it is accepted as binding by the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 419:1).

31.

During the lifetime of the person who caused the damage, the choicest property in his holdings is expropriated. After his death, however, the status of the obligation changes, and the property of least value is expropriated (Gittin 48b).This law applies regardless of the age of the heirs, even if they are past majority (Maggid Mishneh; Siftei Cohen 419:7). See, however, Sefer Me'irat Einayim 419:5.

32.

In his gloss on Hilchot Ishut 16:7, the Maggid Mishneh explains that this ruling reflects a difference in the socio-economic status of the Jewish people. Land was commonly owned in the Talmudic period. In contrast, the ownership of land was less common in the era of the geonim. Movable property thus rose in importance, and a creditor would feel secure even when an obligation was supported only by movable property.

33.

Thus, although it is post-Talmudic in origin, it should be adhered to because of its universal acceptance. See, however, Hilchot Ishut 16:8.

34.

When an ox that is mu'ad kills a human being, the ox should be executed, and its owner is obligated to pay an atonement fine, as explained in Chapter 10. The Ra'avad explains that if a person admits that either he or his property caused damage, he is obligated for financial payment and for an atonement fine. His ox is not, however, executed because of his statements.

35.

Who are disqualified from serving as witnesses, because they are suspected of pasturing their flocks in fields belonging to other people, for this is equivalent to stealing (Hilchot Edut 10:4).

36.

Who are not acceptable witnesses (Hilchot Edut 9:2,4,7).

37.

Who are not acceptable witnesses (Hilchot Edut 9:2,4,7).

38.

The Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 35:14) writes that although this is the legal standard, it has already become customary to accept witnesses whose testimony would ordinarily be disqualified, if there is no way of finding witnesses who are acceptable. Note, however, Sefer Me'irat Einayim 35:30, which states that the Ramah's leniency does not apply with regard to damages.

39.

In this as in many other instances, the Rambam emphasizes that circumstantial evidence - no matter how indisputable - is not sufficient. According to Torah law, a claim can be established only through the testimony of witnesses. (See also Hilchot Chovel UMazik 5:4; Hilchot Sanhedrin 20:1, 24:1.)

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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