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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Hilchot Nizkei Mamon - Chapter Thirteen

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Hilchot Nizkei Mamon - Chapter Thirteen

1

When utensils fall into a cistern and break, the owner of the cistern is not liable.1 [This is derived from Exodus 21:33, which] states: "And an ox or a donkey fell there." The Oral Tradition interprets2 this as an exclusion: "'An ox' and not a man;3 'a donkey' and not utensils." Even when an ox fell [into a cistern] when carrying utensils and died and broke the utensils, the owner is liable for the ox, but not for the utensils.

א

כֵּלִים שֶׁנָּפְלוּ לַבּוֹר וְנִשְׁתַּבְּרוּ בַּעַל הַבּוֹר פָּטוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא לג) "וְנָפַל שָׁמָּה שּׁוֹר אוֹ חֲמוֹר" מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שׁוֹר וְלֹא אָדָם חֲמוֹר וְלֹא כֵּלִים. אֲפִלּוּ נָפַל שׁוֹר בְּכֵלָיו וּמֵת הַשּׁוֹר וְנִשְׁתַּבְּרוּ כֵּלָיו חַיָּב עַל הַבְּהֵמָה וּפָטוּר עַל הַכֵּלִים:

2

A cistern is considered one of the general categories of causes of damage. Its derivatives, like it, are considered mu'adim from the outset. Whenever a person leaves an obstacle [in the path of other living beings], it is considered to be a derivative of a cistern.4 If a person or an animal is injured because of it, the person who caused the obstacle to exist is liable, whether or not he renounced ownership of it. If it caused damage to utensils, [the person responsible] is not held liable.

ב

הַבּוֹר מֵאֲבוֹת נְזִיקִין הוּא וְתוֹלְדוֹתָיו כָּמוֹהוּ מוּעָדִין מִתְּחִלָּתָן. וְכָל הַמַּנִּיחַ תַּקָּלָה הֲרֵי זוֹ תּוֹלֶדֶת הַבּוֹר וְאִם הֻזַּק בָּהּ אָדָם אוֹ בְּהֵמָה מְשַׁלֵּם זֶה שֶׁהִנִּיחַ הַתַּקָּלָה נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם בֵּין הִפְקִיר הַתַּקָּלָה בֵּין לֹא הִפְקִירָהּ. וְאִם הֻזְּקוּ בָּהּ כֵּלִים פָּטוּר:

3

What is implied? When a person leaves his stone, his knife, his straw, his burden or the like in the public domain, and they cause injury to another human or to an animal, [the first person] is liable for the full amount of the damages. Similarly, if he left such items on his property and declared his property - but not these items - ownerless, and a person stumbled on the ground5 and received a blow from such an item that caused him injury, the person who caused the obstacle to exist is liable. If the person's utensils became damaged or soiled in such a situation, [the person who caused the obstacle to exist] is not liable.

ג

כֵּיצַד. הַמַּנִּיחַ אַבְנוֹ אוֹ סַכִּינוֹ אוֹ תִּבְנוֹ אוֹ מַשָּׂאוֹ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְהֻזְּקוּ בָּהֶן בֵּין אָדָם בֵּין בְּהֵמָה חַיָּב נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם. וְכֵן אִם הִנִּיחָן בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ וְהִפְקִיר רְשׁוּתוֹ וְלֹא הִפְקִירָן נִתְקָל בַּקַּרְקַע וְנֶחְבָּט בְּתַקָּלָה זוֹ וְהֻזַּק בָּהּ חַיָּב בַּעַל הַתַּקָּלָה. וְאִם הֻזְּקוּ כֵּלִים בְּכָל אֵלּוּ אוֹ נִטַּנְּפוּ פָּטוּר:

4

If a person brought his ox into a courtyard belonging to another person without permission, the ox defecated, and the feces soiled utensils belonging to the owner, [the owner of the ox] is not liable. For the feces are considered to be a derivative of a cistern, and [the owner of] a cistern is never liable for damage to utensils.

ד

הִכְנִיס שׁוֹרוֹ לַחֲצַר בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁלֹּא בִּרְשׁוּת וְהִרְבִּיץ גְּלָלִים וְנִטַּנְּפוּ בָּהֶן כֵּלָיו שֶׁל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת פָּטוּר. שֶׁהַגָּלָל זֶה תּוֹלֶדֶת בּוֹר הוּא וְלֹא מָצָאנוּ בּוֹר שֶׁחִיֵּב בּוֹ עַל הַכֵּלִים:

5

[The following laws apply when a person] leaves his jug in the public domain, and a passerby stumbles over it and breaks it. The passerby is not liable, because it is not the practice of people to look out on the way as they walk. If [the passerby] was injured, the owner of the jug is liable for his injury. [This applies] even if he declared his jug ownerless. For whenever a person declares ownerless an obstacle that he has created in a domain in which he has no permission to place it at the outset,6 he is liable, as if he had never declared it ownerless.

ה

הַמַּנִּיחַ אֶת הַכַּד בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְהָלַךְ [הַמְהַלֵּךְ] וְנִתְקַל בָּהּ וּשְׁבָרָהּ פָּטוּר לְפִי שֶׁאֵין דֶּרֶךְ בְּנֵי אָדָם לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בַּדֶּרֶךְ כְּשֶׁהֵן מְהַלְּכִין. וְאִם הֻזַּק בָּהּ הֲרֵי בַּעַל הַכַּד חַיָּב בִּנְזָקָיו וַאֲפִלּוּ הִפְקִיר הַכַּד. שֶׁכָּל הַמַּפְקִיר נְזָקָיו בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין לוֹ רְשׁוּת לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ מִתְּחִלָּה חַיָּב כְּאִלּוּ לֹא הִפְקִירָן:

6

If the person placed the jug down in a place where he had permission to place it - e.g., the marketplace before the wine vats or the like7 - and a passerby stumbles over it and breaks it, [the passerby] is liable. If the passerby was injured, the owner of the jug is not liable, because [the passerby] should have looked to see [if there was anything in his way].8 If it was dark or [if the owner of the jugs] filled the entire path with jugs, the passerby is not liable for breaking it. If he is injured, the owner of the jugs is liable.9 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ו

הִנִּיחַ אֶת הַכַּד בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ רְשׁוּת לְהַנִּיחָהּ שָׁם כְּגוֹן מְקוֹם הַקְּרָנוֹת שֶׁל גִּתּוֹת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן וְנִתְקַל בָּהּ וּשְׁבָרָהּ חַיָּב. וְאִם הֻזַּק בָּהּ הַמְהַלֵּךְ בַּעַל הַכַּד פָּטוּר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ לְהִסְתַּכֵּל. וְאִם הָיְתָה אֲפֵלָה אוֹ שֶׁמִּלֵּא כָּל הַדֶּרֶךְ כַּדִּים פָּטוּר עַל שְׁבִירָתָהּ. וְאִם נִתְקַל בָּהּ הֲרֵי בַּעַל הַכַּד חַיָּב. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

7

[The following rules apply when] a jug belonging to a person breaks [accidentally] in the public domain, and another person slips on the water [that spilled] or receives a blow from its shards. The owner cannot be held liable by an earthly court, because [the jug] was broken by accident.10 He has, however, a moral and a spiritual obligation, because he did not gather the shards.11 The shards and the water are like ownerless entities, [even though] he did not rescind his ownership until after the accident, he is not held liable. If he intended to take possession of the shards, and another person was damaged by them, he is liable. Similar laws apply to a person whose camel fell and he did not raise it up, or the like.12 In all these situations, if utensils were damaged, the owner of the obstacle is not liable, whether he declared his object ownerless or not, as we have explained.13

ז

נִשְׁבְּרָה כַּדּוֹ בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְהֻחְלַק אֶחָד בַּמַּיִם אוֹ שֶׁלָּקָה בַּחֲרָסֶיהָ פָּטוּר מִדִּינֵי אָדָם לְפִי שֶׁאָנוּס הוּא. וְחַיָּב בְּדִינֵי שָׁמַיִם מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא סִלֵּק הַחֲרָסִים. וַהֲרֵי הַחֲרָסִים וְהַמַּיִם כְּהֶפְקֵר וְלֹא הִפְקִיר אֶלָּא אַחַר שֶׁנֶּאֱנַס וּלְפִיכָךְ פָּטוּר. וְאִם נִתְכַּוֵּן לִזְכּוֹת בַּחֲרָסֶיהָ וְהֻזַּק בָּהֶן אַחֵר חַיָּב. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְנָפְלָה גְּמַלּוֹ וְלֹא הֶעֱמִידָהּ וְכָל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ. וְאִם הֻזְּקוּ כֵּלִים בְּכָל אֵלּוּ פָּטוּר בֵּין הִפְקִיר בֵּין לֹא הִפְקִיר כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

8

[The following laws apply when] two potters were following each other on a path, the first tripped and fell, and the second tripped over the first. If the first could have stood up but failed to do so, he is liable for the damages suffered by the second. Although he accidentally fell, the accident did not [force him to remain] lying in the road. [Therefore,] since he could have stood up, [he is liable].14 If he was unable to have risen [before the second potter tripped over him], he is not liable. [This applies] even though he did not warn [the potter] who tripped over him. [The rationale is] that he is concerned with his own [difficulties].15

ח

שְׁנֵי קַדָּרִין שֶׁהָיוּ מְהַלְּכִין בַּדֶּרֶךְ זֶה אַחַר זֶה וְנִתְקַל הָרִאשׁוֹן וְנָפַל וְנִתְקַל הַשֵּׁנִי בָּרִאשׁוֹן. אִם הָיָה לָרִאשׁוֹן לַעֲמֹד וְלֹא עָמַד חַיָּב הָרִאשׁוֹן בְּנִזְקֵי שֵׁנִי שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא אָנוּס בִּשְׁעַת נְפִילָה אֵינוֹ אָנוּס בִּהְיוֹתוֹ מֻטָּל בַּדֶּרֶךְ וַהֲרֵי הוּא יָכוֹל לַעֲמֹד. וְאִם לֹא הָיָה לוֹ לַעֲמֹד פָּטוּר וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִזְהִיר לָזֶה שֶׁנִּתְקַל בּוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא טָרוּד בְּנַפְשׁוֹ:

9

When do we say that he is liable for the damages to the second [potter]? When he suffers damage to his body. If, however, his utensils are damaged, [the first potter] is not liable. For [an owner of] a cistern is not liable for the damage to utensils, and any obstacle is considered to be a derivative of a cistern, as explained above.16

ט

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב בִּנְזָקָיו שֶׁל שֵׁנִי כְּשֶׁהֻזַּק גּוּפוֹ שֶׁל שֵׁנִי. אֲבָל אִם הֻזְּקוּ כֵּלָיו פָּטוּר שֶׁאֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַל הַכֵּלִים בַּבּוֹר וְכָל תַּקָּלָה תּוֹלֶדֶת בּוֹר הוּא כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

10

[The following rules apply when] potters, glass blowers and the like were walking one after the other, the first one tripped and fell, the second tripped over the first one, and the third tripped over the second. Each of them had time to stand up, but failed to do so. The first is liable for the damages to the body of the second, regardless of whether he was injured by the body of the first person who is lying on the earth,17 or he was injured by his burden.18 The second is liable for the injuries suffered by the body of the third person if he was injured by the second person's body. If, however, he was injured by the second person's burden, [the second person] is not liable. For he will say: "I did not dig this cistern - i.e., my burden." For it was the first person who caused the second person and his burden to fall.19 In all cases, [if the person who fell] warned [the person who tripped over him or his burden], [the person who fell] is not liable.

י

הַקַּדָרִים וְהַזַּגָּגִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שֶׁהָיוּ מְהַלְּכִין זֶה אַחַר זֶה וְנִתְקַל הָרִאשׁוֹן וְנָפַל וְנִתְקַל הַשֵּׁנִי בָּרִאשׁוֹן וְהַשְּׁלִישִׁי בַּשֵּׁנִי וְכָל אֶחָד מֵהֶן יֵשׁ לוֹ לַעֲמֹד וְלֹא עָמַד. הָרִאשׁוֹן חַיָּב בְּנִזְקֵי גּוּפוֹ שֶׁל שֵׁנִי בֵּין שֶׁהֻזַּק בְּגוּפוֹ שֶׁל רִאשׁוֹן הַמֻּטָּל בָּאָרֶץ בֵּין שֶׁהֻזַּק בְּמַשָּׂאוֹ. וְהַשֵּׁנִי חַיָּב בְּנִזְקֵי גּוּפוֹ שֶׁל שְׁלִישִׁי אִם הֻזַּק בְּגוּפוֹ שֶׁל שֵׁנִי. אֲבָל אִם הֻזַּק בְּמַשָּׂאוֹ שֶׁל שֵׁנִי שֶׁנָּפַל פָּטוּר. שֶׁהֲרֵי אוֹמֵר לוֹ הַשֵּׁנִי בּוֹר זֶה שֶׁהוּא מַשָּׂאִי אֵין אֲנִי הַכּוֹרֶה אוֹתוֹ שֶׁהֲרֵי הָרִאשׁוֹן הִפִּיל הַשֵּׁנִי עִם מַשָּׂאוֹ. וְאִם הִזְהִירוּ זֶה אֶת זֶה כֻּלָּן פְּטוּרִין:

11

If the first person fell and was lying lengthwise across the road and one person tripped over his head, another [tripped] over his legs and a third over his abdomen, he is liable for the injuries each suffered, for he had the potential to arise.

יא

נָפַל הָרִאשׁוֹן וְהָיָה מֻטָּל לְרֹחַב הַדֶּרֶךְ וְנִתְקַל אֶחָד בְּרֹאשׁוֹ וְאֶחָד בְּרַגְלָיו וְאֶחָד בְּבִטְנוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא חַיָּב בְּנִזְקֵי כֻּלָּן הוֹאִיל וְהָיָה לוֹ לַעֲמֹד וְלֹא עָמַד:

12

When a person pours water into the public domain, and another person is injured by it, [the one who poured out the water] is liable for the damages.20 If the other person's garments were soiled, [the one who poured out the water] is not liable, as we have explained.21 If the water was absorbed by the earth, but the earth remained slippery,22 and a person slipped and fell and was injured by the ground, [the one who poured out the water] is liable.23

יב

הַשּׁוֹפֵךְ אֶת הַמַּיִם בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְהֻזַּק בָּהֶן אַחֵר חַיָּב בִּנְזָקָיו. וְאִם נִטַּנְפוּ כֵּלָיו פָּטוּר כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. נִבְלְעוּ הַמַּיִם בָּאָרֶץ וְנִשְׁאֲרָה הָאָרֶץ חֲלָקָה וְהֻחְלַק וְנָפַל וְהֻזַּק בַּקַּרְקַע הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב בִּנְזָקָיו:

13

All those who open their sewage vats and rake out their cesspools do not have permission to pour this water into the public domain during the summer months.24 In the rainy season, a person has permission [to release such sewage].25 Nevertheless, if a person or an animal is damaged by the water, the one who released it is responsible for the entire sum of the damages.26

יג

כָּל אֵלּוּ שֶׁפּוֹתְקִין בִּיבוֹתֵיהֶן וְגוֹרְפִין מְעָרוֹתֵיהֶן אֵין לָהֶן רְשׁוּת לִשְׁפֹּךְ הַמַּיִם בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים בִּימוֹת הַחַמָּה אֲבָל בִּימוֹת הַגְּשָׁמִים יֵשׁ לָהֶן רְשׁוּת. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אִם הֻזַּק אָדָם אוֹ בְּהֵמָה בַּמַּיִם חַיָּבִין נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם:

14

A person should not take his straw and hay out to the public domain so that it will be trod upon and become fit to use as fertilizer. If he did take it out, our Sages penalized him and declared the straw to be ownerless. The first person to take possession of it acquires it as his own, once it has been trod upon and its value has increased.27 If a person took possession of it before that time - i.e., directly after it was taken out to the public domain - it should not be expropriated from him.28 Although the straw and the hay are ownerless, if [they cause damage to] a person or an animal, the person who brought it out [to the public domain] must compensate [for the damages].29

יד

לֹא יוֹצִיא אָדָם תִּבְנוֹ וְקַשּׁוֹ לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּדוּשׁוּ וְיַעֲשׂוּ לוֹ זֶבֶל. וְאִם הוֹצִיא קְנָסוּהוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁיִּהְיוּ כְּהֶפְקֵר וְכָל הַקּוֹדֵם בָּהֶן זָכָה מֵעֵת שֶׁנִּדּוֹשׁוּ וְהִשְׁבִּיחוּ. וְאִם קָדַם אָדָם וְזָכָה בָּהֶן מִשְּׁעַת הוֹצָאָה לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אֵין מוֹצִיאִין מִיָּדוֹ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן כְּהֶפְקֵר אִם הֻזַּק בָּהֶן אָדָם אוֹ בְּהֵמָה הֲרֵי זֶה הַמּוֹצִיא חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם:

15

A person may take out compost and manure to the public domain at a time when everyone does so and amass them there for 30 days so that they will be trodden upon by people and animals. Although [permission is granted], if these substances cause damage the owner is liable for the damages. [If another person takes] this manure,30 he is liable for theft. Since its value will not increase [appreciably] by being trodden upon, [our Sages] did not penalize him [by declaring it ownerless].31

טו

יֵשׁ לְכָל אָדָם לְהוֹצִיא אֶת הַזֶּבֶל וְהַגְּלָלִים לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים בִּשְׁעַת הוֹצָאַת זְבָלִים וְלִצְבֹּר אוֹתָן שָׁם שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה נִשּׁוֹף בְּרַגְלֵי אָדָם [וְרַגְלֵי בְּהֵמָה]. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אִם הִזִּיק חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם. וְחַיָּבִין עַל זֶה הַגָּלָל מִשּׁוּם גֵּזֶל כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ שֶׁבַח אִם נִדּוֹשׁ לֹא קָנְסוּ בּוֹ:

16

Mortar may not be left to soak in the public domain, nor may bricks be fashioned there.32 One may, however, mix mortar33 in the public domain. One may not, however, mix bricks.

טז

אֵין שׁוֹרִין טִיט בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְאֵין לוֹבְנִים לְבֵנִים. אֲבָל גּוֹבְלִין טִיט בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אֲבָל לֹא לְבֵנִים:

17

When a person constructs a building in the public domain, the one who brings stones may bring stones, and the one who builds may build. If any of them causes damage, they are obligated to pay for the entire sum of the damages.34

יז

הַבּוֹנֶה בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים הַמֵּבִיא אֲבָנִים מֵבִיא וְהַבּוֹנֶה בּוֹנֶה. וְכֻלָּן שֶׁהִזִּיקוּ חַיָּבִין לְשַׁלֵּם נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם:

18

When a quarrier hews out a stone and gives it to a stonecutter, and it causes damage to a human or an animal, the stonecutter is liable. If the stonecutter gives it to a donkey-driver35 [and it causes damage], the donkey-driver is liable. If the donkey-driver gives it to a porter36 [and it causes damage], the porter is liable. If the porter gives it to a builder [and it causes damage], the builder is liable. If the builder gives it to the person who positions it on the building [and it causes damage], the latter is liable. If they were working as contractors [in a partnership], and after it was positioned in its place on the building it fell and caused damage, they all share in the liability.37 If they are hired laborers, the one [who positioned the stone in its place] is liable, and the others are not liable.38

יח

הַחוֹצֵב שֶׁחָצַב אֶבֶן וּמְסָרָהּ לְסַתָּת וְהֻזַּק בָּהּ אָדָם אוֹ בְּהֵמָה הַסַּתָּת חַיָּב. וְסַתָּת שֶׁמָּסַר לְחַמָּר הַחַמָּר חַיָּב. מָסַר חַמָּר לְכַתָּף הַכַּתָּף חַיָּב. מָסַר כַּתָּף לְבוֹנֶה הַבּוֹנֶה חַיָּב. מְסָרָהּ הַבּוֹנֶה לְזֶה שֶׁמְּתַקֵּן יְשִׁיבָתָהּ בַּבִּנְיָן הַמְתַקֵּן חַיָּב. וְאִם אַחַר שֶׁהֶעֱלוּהָ עַל גַּבֵּי הַדִּימוֹס נָפְלָה וְהִזִּיקָה וְהָיוּ עוֹשִׂין בְּקַבְּלָנוּת כֻּלָּן חַיָּבִין. וּבִשְׂכִירוּת הָאַחֲרוֹן חַיָּב וְכֻלָּן פְּטוּרִין:

19

When a wall or a tree falls into the public domain and causes damage,39 the owner is not required to compensate [for the damages].40 [This applies] even when he declared [the tree or the wall] ownerless.41 [The rationale is that these entities] do not resemble a cistern, for at the outset, [it is not likely] that they will cause damage. If they were not sturdy, the court sets a time for the person by which he must cut down the tree and tear down the wall. How much time is granted him? Thirty days.42 If the tree or the wall falls within this time and causes damage, he is not liable. [If it falls] afterwards, he is liable, because he delayed [beyond the limits set].

יט

הַכֹּתֶל וְהָאִילָן שֶׁנָּפְלוּ לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְהִזִּיקוּ פָּטוּר מִלְּשַׁלֵּם וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִפְקִירָן. לְפִי שֶׁאֵינָן דּוֹמִים לַבּוֹר שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין תְּחִלָּתָן לְהַזִּיק. וְאִם הָיוּ רְעוּעִין בֵּית דִּין קוֹבְעִין לוֹ זְמַן לָקֹץ אֶת הָאִילָן וְלִסְתֹּר אֶת הַכֹּתֶל. וְכַמָּה הַזְּמַן שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם. נָפְלוּ בְּתוֹךְ הַזְּמַן וְהִזִּיקוּ פָּטוּר לְאַחַר הַזְּמַן חַיָּב מִפְּנֵי שֶׁשִּׁהָה אוֹתָן:

20

When a person places thorns or glass [within a wall], or when a person makes a fence of thorns that project into the public domain, and it causes damage to another person,43 he is liable for the full extent of the damages. If he makes a fence of thorns that are contained within his property,44 he is not held liable, for it is not ordinary for people to rub against a wall [in the public domain].

כ

הַמַּצְנִיעַ אֶת הַקּוֹץ וְאֶת הַזְּכוּכִית וְהַגּוֹדֵר גְּדֵרוֹ בְּקוֹצִים וְהִפְרִיחַ לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְהֻזַּק אֶחָד בָּהֶן חַיָּב נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם. וְאִם גָּדַר בְּקוֹצִים בְּצִמְצוּם בְּתוֹךְ רְשׁוּתוֹ פָּטוּר לְפִי שֶׁאֵין דֶּרֶךְ בְּנֵי אָדָם לְהִתְחַכֵּךְ בַּכְּתָלִים:

21

[The following laws apply when] a person hid his thorns and [fragments of] glass in a wall belonging to a colleague, the owner of the wall came and tore down his wall into the public domain, and [the thorns or glass] caused damage. If the wall was shaky,45 the person who hid [the thorns or glass] is liable. If the wall was strong, its owner is liable.46

כא

הַמַּצְנִיעַ קוֹצָיו וּזְכוּכִיּוֹתָיו בְּתוֹךְ כָּתְלוֹ שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ וּבָא בַּעַל הַכֹּתֶל וְסָתַר אֶת כָּתְלוֹ וְנָפַל לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְהִזִּיק. אִם כֹּתֶל רָעוּעַ הָיָה הַמַּצְנִיעַ חַיָּב. וְאִם כֹּתֶל בָּרִיא הוּא בַּעַל הַכֹּתֶל חַיָּב:

22

The pious men47 of the early generations would bury thorns and [fragments of] glass in their fields [at least] three handbreadths below the ground, so they would not be lifted up by a plow. Others would burn them in fire. Still others would throw them to the sea or to the river so that other people would not be injured by them.

כב

חֲסִידִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים הָיוּ מַצְנִיעִין אֶת הַקּוֹצִים וְאֶת הַזְּכוּכִיּוֹת בְּתוֹךְ שְׂדוֹתֵיהֶם בְּעֹמֶק שְׁלֹשָׁה טְפָחִים בָּאָרֶץ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תַּעֲלֵם הַמַּחֲרֵשָׁה. וַאֲחֵרִים שׂוֹרְפִים אוֹתָן בְּאֵשׁ. וַאֲחֵרִים מַשְׁלִיכִים אוֹתָן לַיָּם אוֹ לַנָּהָר כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֻזַּק בָּהֶן אָדָם:

23

A person should not clear stones from his private property into the public domain.48 One should not dig a cavity, a cistern, a trench or a cave under the public domain.49 [This applies] even when [the covering of the cavity is so strong] that it can support a carriage laden with stones, for there is the possibility that [at a later date] it will open from below without his knowledge. It is permitted for a person to dig a cistern for the needs of people at large.50

כג

לֹא יְסַקֵּל אָדָם מֵרְשׁוּתוֹ לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים. ואֵין עוֹשִׂין חָלָל תַּחַת רְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְלֹא בּוֹרוֹת וְלֹא שִׁיחִין וְלֹא מְעָרוֹת וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָעֲגָלָה יְכוֹלָה לְהַלֵּךְ עַל גַּבֵּיהֶן וְהִיא טְעוּנָה אֲבָנִים שֶׁמָּא תִּפָּחֵת מִלְּמַטָּה שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתּוֹ. וְהַחוֹפֵר בּוֹר לְצָרְכֵי רַבִּים מֻתָּר:

24

One should not build projections and balconies that protrude into the public domain unless it is possible for a camel and its rider51 to pass beneath, and provided it does not cast shadows on the people in the public domain. If he desires, he can withdraw the walls [of his building into his own domain] and build [the projection].52 If he did withdraw the walls [of his building], but has not built [a projection], he may do so at any time he desires. Never, however, may he return the walls to their original place. Once people at large have been granted permission to pass through a particular property, it cannot be withdrawn.53

כד

אֵין מוֹצִיאִין זִיזִין וּגְזוּזְטְרָאוֹת לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיוּ לְמַעְלָה מִגָּמָל וְרוֹכְבוֹ. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יַאֲפִיל הַדֶּרֶךְ עַל בְּנֵי רְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים. וְאִם רָצָה כּוֹנֵס לְתוֹךְ שֶׁלּוֹ וּמוֹצִיאוֹ. כָּנַס וְלֹא הוֹצִיא הֲרֵי זֶה מוֹצִיא כָּל זְמַן שֶׁיִּרְצֶה. אֲבָל אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַחְזִיר כְּתָלִים לִמְקוֹמָן לְעוֹלָם. שֶׁכָּל מֵצַר שֶׁהֶחְזִיקוּ בּוֹ רַבִּים אָסוּר לְקַלְקְלוֹ:

25

When a person purchased a courtyard with projections and balconies protruding into the public domain, we operate under the presumption [that they were built legally].54 If the building falls, he is allowed to rebuild it according to its original proportions.

כה

לָקַח חָצֵר וּבָהּ זִיזִין וּגְזֻזְטְרָאוֹת יוֹצְאוֹת לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים הֲרֵי זוֹ בְּחֶזְקָתָהּ וְאִם נָפְלָה חוֹזֵר וּבוֹנֶה אוֹתָהּ כְּשֶׁהָיְתָה:

26

When [the foliage of] a tree leans into the public domain, it should be trimmed so that a camel and its rider can pass under it. An empty space should be left next to the banks on both sides of a river wide enough for the crewmen who descend and pull a boat.55 Any tree that is found in this space should be cut down immediately. A warning need not be given to its owner,56 for it blocks the crewmen from pulling ships.

כו

אִילָן שֶׁהוּא נוֹטֶה לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים קוֹצֵץ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַגָּמָל עוֹבֵר בְּרוֹכְבוֹ. וּמַנִּיחִין מָקוֹם פָּנוּי מִשְּׁתֵי שִׂפְתוֹת הַנָּהָר כְּרֹחַב כִּתְפֵי הַמַּלָּחִים שֶׁיּוֹרְדִין שָׁם וּמוֹשְׁכִין הַסְּפִינָה. וְכָל אִילָן הַנִּמְצָא בְּרֹחַב זֶה קוֹצְצִין אוֹתוֹ מִיָּד וְאֵין מַתְרִין בִּבְעָלָיו שֶׁהֲרֵי מְעַכֵּב מוֹשְׁכֵי הַסְּפִינָה:

27

[The following rules apply when] there was a path for people at large passing through a person's field, he expropriated the path and prepared a new path at the side of the field. What he granted them, they acquire possession of,57 but he does not acquire possession of [the land] he took. How wide is a path for people at large? Not less than sixteen cubits.58

כז

מִי שֶׁהָיְתָה דֶּרֶךְ הָרַבִּים עוֹבֶרֶת בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ נְטָלָהּ וּנְתָנָהּ לָהֶם מִן הַצַּד מַה שֶּׁנָּתַן נָתַן וְזָכוּ בּוֹ וְזֶה שֶׁנָּטַל לֹא זָכָה בּוֹ. וְכַמָּה רֹחַב דֶּרֶךְ הָרַבִּים אֵין פָּחוֹת מִשֵּׁשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה אַמּוֹת:

Test Yourself on This Chapter

Footnotes
1.

Similarly, as stated in the following halachah, the owner of the cistern is not held liable if the utensils are damaged. With regard to a human, by contrast, the owner is liable for damages. (See Chapter12, Halachah 16; Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 410:21.)

2.

See Bava Kama 28b, 53b.

3.

See Chapter 12, Halachah 16.

4.

See the Tur (Choshen Mishpat 410), which defines the derivatives of a cistern as including any property that causes damage in its place, which does not move. Although the Rambam mentions a moving obstacle in Chapter 2, Halachah 19, the intent is that the obstacle is being moved by another force.

5.

The person stumbled on the earth, and this is what caused the injury. Nevertheless, since the earth is ownerless, he collects the damages from the person who left the obstacle in its place. Were it not for the obstacle, the damage would not have taken place.

6.

If, however, he left a jug on his own property and then declared it ownerless, he is not liable. At the outset, he had permission to leave the jug there. See Chapter 12, Halachah 2.

7.

I.e. a place in front of oil vats or beehives, where jugs of oil or honey would be filled.

8.

Although, as stated above, it is not the general practice for people to watch for obstacles as they walk, since jugs are often left on the ground in places like these, a passerby should watch his step (Kessef Mishneh).

9.

In the dark, the owner of the jugs should have removed them before nightfall, for he knows that a passerby will not be able to see. If he filled the path with jugs, he made it likely that a person would break a jug as he passed by. Note the quotation of this law in the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 412:2). There a further category is added: an instance where a person places so many jugs in the road that it is impossible for people to pass without breaking some of the jugs: the passerby is not liable even if he intentionally broke enough jugs to allow him to pass.

10.

Since the jug broke accidentally, the owner is not considered negligent with regard to the damages that were caused. For this reason, the laws stated in Halachah 5 are not applied to him.

11.

If he did not have time to gather the shards before the other person was injured, he does not have such a moral obligation (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 412:4.)

12.

For the camel, like the broken pitcher, fell accidentally as the pitcher broke, and is thus considered to be an obstacle unintentionally placed in the public domain. Bava Kama 29astates that this is speaking of an instance where the camel died, and its owner rescinded his ownership over its carcass. Otherwise, he would be held liable.

13.

Halachah 1.

14.

I.e., his body is considered like an obstacle in the public domain.

15.

Although one might think that he could have been held liable for not warning his colleague, this presumption is not accepted. His concern for his own welfare takes priority. Rabbenu Asher (and his opinion is accepted by the Tur and the Ramah Choshen Mishpat 413:1) differs and maintains that if the first potter had the opportunity to warn the second and failed to do so, he is liable.

16.

Halachah 2. Implied by the Rambam's wording in this halachah (and the following one) is that the body of the first potter is considered to be an obstacle. He is not considered to have caused damage to his colleague with his person.

17.

This reflects the concept mentioned in the previous note. A person's body is considered to be an obstacle. Therefore, the Rambam mentions damage to the body of the second person, implying that if the second person's utensils were damaged, the first would not be held liable.

18.

From Halachah 7, it would appear that this ruling applies only when the potter did not declare his wares ownerless. See the Ra'avad, the Maggid Mishneh, the Tur and the Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 413:2).

19.

This argument does not apply, however, with regard to injury caused by the body of the second person. Since he had time to rise, he is liable for the injuries suffered.

20.

In this instance, there is no difference whether or not the person declared the water ownerless, as reflected in Halachot 2 and 7.

21.

For the owner of a derivative of a cistern is not liable for damages to property (Halachot 1 and 2).

22.

The Ra'avad explains that this ruling applies only when the ground is still muddy because of the water. The Maggid Mishneh states that even when the water has been absorbed totally, if the ground is still slippery, the person is liable. The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 412:5) appears to follow the Ra'avad's view.

23.

Although the ground did not belong to him, since the fall was caused by the water that he poured, he is liable.

24.

During these months, the streets are clean and it is forbidden for someone to soil them. Moreover, in Eretz Yisrael it does not rain during these months, and the sewage will remain in the streets for months.

25.

For the streets are muddy at that time, and there is water flowing to wash away the sewage. Needless to say, as our sewage and sidewalk shave become more sophisticated, the relevance of these laws has faded.

26.

Although our Sages granted a person permission to release his sewage at this time, they did not absolve him of responsibility.

27.

There is an unresolved difference of opinion among the Sages (Bava Kama 30b) if the penalty takes effect from the time thestraw was taken out, or from the time it became useful asfertilizer. Note the Tur and the Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 414:1), who state that at the outset a person who asks whether he may take the straw and the hay, should not be told that he may retain possession of its initial value. Instead, he should be told that he may keep only the increment. After the fact, he is allowed to keep the initial value as well.

28.

The Tur and the Ramah differ with regard to this point as well and maintain that in this instance, the straw should be expropriated from the person who took possession of it.

29.

Whenever damage is caused by an object that was declared ownerless after being placed in the public domain without permission, the person who placed it there is liable.

30.

As stated in Hilchot Gezelah 6:5, this applies even if aperson takes his compost out at a time when it is forbidden to do so.A person who takes it is liable for theft.

31.

The Tur and the Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 414:2) statethat if the compost causes damage, it is considered to be ownerless, and it may be taken by another person.

32.

For these will remain in the public domain for an extendedperiod.

33.

To be used for building in the near future.

34.

In this instance as well, the license to perform an activity in the public domain does not absolve a person of liability.

35.

To transport to a construction site.

36.

To carry it to the builder.

37.

If they were partners, once the task is completed they all sharein the responsibility. Until the entire task is completed, however, the person who is responsible for the activity at the time the damage was caused must pay for the damages, even when they were all partners.

38.

I.e., each person is liable for the portion of the task that he performs.

39.

The Maggid Mishneh emphasizes that this applies when damage is caused by the tree or the wall as it falls. After it falls and the tree or the stones are lying in the public domain, the owner is not liable, if he declares them ownerless.

40.

This is considered an oness, a loss due to forces beyond his control. The Maggid Mishneh clarifies that this applies only when the wall was constructed properly to begin with. When, however, it is built faultily, the owner is liable.

41.

Generally, despite the fact that a person declares an obstacle that he created in the public domain as ownerless, he is liable. In this instance, however, since he had permission to plant the tree or build the wall, and it fell because of forces beyond his control, he is not held responsible.The Maggid Mishneh explains that the owner is liable, if he desires to establish his possession over the entities which fell. The Tur and the Ramah (loc. cit.) differ.

42.

As Bava Metzia 118a states, this is the ordinary time granted by the court to adjust difficulties.

43.

The thorns or glass that projects is considered to be an obstacle placed in the public domain.

44.

Even if they project beyond the wall itself, as long as they are contained within the owner's property, he is not liable.

45.

And thus one could assume that it would be torn down in the near future.

46.

The owner of the thorns or glass is not liable, because he had no reason to think that someone would tear down a sturdy wall. If the damage was done when the wall was being destroyed, the owner of the wall is liable, because he should have taken care that no passersby were hurt. If the damage was done after the wall was destroyed, the owner of the wall is liable, because he was responsible for clearing the debris remaining from his wall (Tur, Beit Yosef, Choshen Mishpat 415).

47.

I.e., men who went beyond the measure of the law. This teaching is based on the examples of sages cited by Bava Kama 30a.

48.

Lest another person stumble over them and be injured.

49.

The Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 417:1) states that in his era, it had already become customary to dig below the streets of the public domain. This is surely the case in our age, when engineering has progressed to the point that safety is not compromised by digging in this manner.

50.

E.g., to provide travelers with drinking water. This law is stated in a separate paragraph, because as is stated in the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat410:7, but see 417:1), it is a separate clause, and not a continuation of the previous idea. The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch also mention that the person must cover the cistern and entrust the cover to the trustees of the people at large, or at the very least inform the court that he has dug a cistern for people, but is expecting the court to arrange for its being covered.

51.

A camel was the highest popular means of conveyance in Talmudic times. Needless to say, in every era, the height should be adjusted to fit the highest contemporary means of conveyance, e.g., in the present era, allowances should be made for semi-trailers.

52.

I.e., knock down the existing walls and build new walls further removed from the public domain.

53.

If, however, people do not frequently walk through this space (e.g., the person prevented that by building a platform there), he may rebuild the walls in their original place when he desires Rabbenu Yerucham; Beit Yosef, Ramah (Choshen Mishpat 417:2).

54.

I.e., that the person who originally constructed the building built its walls removed from the public domain, so that the protrusions and balconies were permitted.

55.

I.e., the rivers of Eretz Yisrael and Babylon were for the most part neither wide nor deep. When a ship wanted to dock, several of its crewmen would descend and they would pull the ship to the riverbank by ropes. This halachah requires that enough empty space be left along the river banks to allow these crewmen to maneuver. From Hilchot Geneivah 8:2, it appears that we are speaking about four cubits.

56.

This can be derived by the conduct of Rabbah bar Rav Nachman (Bava Metzia 108a), who cleared space without informing the owner of the property.

57.

See Halachah 24.

58.

This is derived from the width of the public thoroughfare in the camp of the Jews in the desert.

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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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