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Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Nine

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Gezelah va'Avedah - Chapter Nine


The following rules apply when a person robs a colleague of property and depreciates its value - e.g., he digs cisterns, trenches or caverns in it, or he cuts down trees, spoils springs or destroys a building - he is obligated to return the house or the field in its original condition, or to pay the owner for the depreciation of value.

If, however, the property depreciats in value as a result of natural phenomena - e.g., the flooding of a river or a fire that came as a result of lightning - the robber can tell the owner: "Here is your property." For landed property remains in the possession of its owner at all times, and the robber is not responsible for its decrease in value. Therefore, he is responsible only when he personally causes the damages. This is not the case with regard to movable property, as has been explained.


הַגּוֹזֵל קַרְקַע מֵחֲבֵרוֹ וְהִפְסִידָהּ. כְּגוֹן שֶׁחָפַר בָּהּ בּוֹרוֹת שִׁיחִין וּמְעָרוֹת אוֹ שֶׁקָּצַץ אֶת הָאִילָנוֹת וְשִׁחֵת אֶת הַמַּעְיָנוֹת וְהָרַס הַבִּנְיָן. חַיָּב לְהַעֲמִיד לוֹ בַּיִת אוֹ שָׂדֶה כְּשֶׁהָיוּ בִּשְׁעַת הַגְּזֵלָה אוֹ יְשַׁלֵּם דְּמֵי מַה שֶּׁהִפְסִיד. אֲבָל אִם נִשְׁחֲתָה מֵאֵלֶיהָ כְּגוֹן שֶׁשְּׁטָפָהּ נָהָר אוֹ נִשְׂרְפָה בְּאֵשׁ שֶׁיָּרְדָה מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם אוֹמֵר לוֹ הֲרֵי שֶׁלְּךָ לְפָנֶיךָ שֶׁהַקַּרְקַע בְּחֶזְקַת בְּעָלִים קַיֶּמֶת וְאֵין אַחֲרָיוּת הֶפְסֵדָהּ עָלָיו אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הִפְסִיד בְּיָדוֹ. מַה שֶּׁאֵין הַדִּין כֵּן בְּמִטַּלְטְלִין כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:


The following rules apply when a person robs a colleague of a field and it was in turn taken from him by robbery and seized by brigands in the name of the king. If this is a condition that plagues the land as a whole - e.g., the king has confiscated the fields or homes of all the land's inhabitants - the robber can tell the owner: "Here is your property." If, however, it was confiscated because of the robber, the robber is obligated to provide the owner with another field.


גָּזַל שָׂדֶה וְנִגְזְלָה מִמֶּנּוּ וּנְטָלוּהָ מְצִיקִים בְּכֹחַ הַמֶּלֶךְ. אִם מַכַּת מְדִינָה הִיא כְּגוֹן שֶׁלָּקַח הַמֶּלֶךְ שָׂדוֹת אוֹ בָּתִּים שֶׁל כָּל אַנְשֵׁי הַמְּדִינָה אוֹמֵר לוֹ הֲרֵי שֶׁלְּךָ לְפָנֶיךָ. וְאִם מֵחֲמַת הַגַּזְלָן נִלְקְחָה חַיָּב לְהַעֲמִיד לוֹ שָׂדֶה אַחֶרֶת:


If the king compelled the robber to show him all the property he owned, and the robber showed him the field that he obtained by robbery together with his other fields, and the king confiscated it, the robber is obligated to provide the owner with another field comparable to the one taken, or to pay its value.


אָנַס הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת הַגַּזְלָן וְאָמַר לוֹ הַרְאֵה לָנוּ כָּל מַה שֶּׁיֵּשׁ לְךָ וְהֶרְאָה שָׂדֶה זוֹ שֶׁגָּזַל בִּכְלַל שְׂדוֹתָיו וּנְטָלָהּ הַמֶּלֶךְ. חַיָּב לְהַעֲמִיד לוֹ שָׂדֶה אַחֶרֶת כְּמוֹתָהּ אוֹ נוֹתֵן דָּמֶיהָ:


When a person obtains a field by robbery and damages it by his actions, the owner of the field is entitled to collect the damages only from the property in the robber's possession; his obligation is equivalent to that of a loan supported by a verbal commitment.

If the robber was called to court and obligated to pay for the damage to the property obtained by robbery, and afterwards sells other property that he owned, the rightful owner of the property taken by robbery may collect his due from properties that the robber has already sold.


גָּזַל שָׂדֶה וְהִפְסִידָהּ בְּיָדוֹ כְּשֶׁבַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה גּוֹבֶה אֶת דְּמֵי מַה שֶּׁהִפְסִיד הַגַּזְלָן גּוֹבֶה אוֹתָן מִנְּכָסִים בְּנֵי חוֹרִין מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא כְּמִלְוֶה עַל פֶּה. וְאִם עָמַד הַגַּזְלָן בַּדִּין וְנִתְחַיֵּב לְשַׁלֵּם וְאַחַר כָּךְ מָכַר גּוֹבֶה מִנְּכָסִים מְשֻׁעְבָּדִין:


If a person obtains property by robbery and benefits from its produce, he must pay for all the produce that he consumed from the property in his possession.

When a person obtains landed property by robbery and increases its worth, the increase should be evaluated. The robber is placed at a disadvantage. If the increase in the property's value is greater than the expenses he undertook, the owner is required to reimburse him only for the expenses. If the expenses he undertook are greater than the increase in the property's value, he receives reimbursement for the expenses only to the extent of the increase in value.


גָּזַל שָׂדֶה וְאָכַל פֵּרוֹתֶיהָ מְשַׁלֵּם כָּל הַפֵּרוֹת שֶׁאָכַל מִנְּכָסִים בְּנֵי חוֹרִין. גָּזַל וְהִשְׁבִּיחַ שָׁמִין לוֹ וְיָדוֹ עַל הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה אִם הַשֶּׁבַח יֶתֶר עַל הַהוֹצָאָה נוֹטֵל הַהוֹצָאָה בִּלְבַד מִן הַנִּגְזָל וְאִם הַהוֹצָאָה יְתֵרָה עַל הַשֶּׁבַח אֵין לוֹ מִן הַהוֹצָאָה אֶלָּא שִׁעוּר הַשֶּׁבַח:


The following rules apply when a person obtains a field by robbery and sells it, and the purchaser causes its value to increase. If the increase in value is greater than the purchaser's expenses, he should be reimbursed for his expenses by the owner. He should collect the principal and the remainder of the increase in value from the robber.


גָּזַל שָׂדֶה וּמְכָרָהּ וְהִשְׁבִּיחָהּ הַלּוֹקֵחַ אִם הַשֶּׁבַח יָתֵר עַל הַהוֹצָאָה נוֹטֵל הַהוֹצָאָה מִבַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה וְהַקֶּרֶן נוֹטֵל עִם שְׁאָר הַשֶּׁבַח מִן הַגַּזְלָן:


The purchaser may collect the principal even from encumbered property that the robber had sold. By contrast, he may collect the remainder of the increase in the property's value only from property presently in the robber's possession.

If the purchaser was aware that the field had been obtained by robbery when he purchased it, he is entitled to collect only the principal. He forfeits the increase in the property's value that exceeds his expense.

If his expense was greater than the increase in value, regardless of whether or not he recognized that the field was obtained by robbery, he receives reimbursement for the expenses only to the extent of the increase in value. This he collects from the owner of the field. He collects the principal from the robber, even from encumbered property that the robber had sold.


הַקֶּרֶן גּוֹבֶה מִנְּכָסִים מְשֻׁעְבָּדִים וּשְׁאָר הַשֶּׁבַח מִנְּכָסִים בְּנֵי חוֹרִין. וְאִם הִכִּיר בָּהּ שֶׁהִיא גְּזוּלָה כְּשֶׁלְּקָחָהּ אֵינוֹ נוֹטֵל מִן הַגַּזְלָן אֶלָּא הַקֶּרֶן בִּלְבַד וּמַפְסִיד שְׁאָר הַשֶּׁבַח הַיָּתֵר עַל הַהוֹצָאָה. הָיְתָה הַהוֹצָאָה יְתֵרָה עַל הַשֶּׁבַח בֵּין שֶׁהִכִּיר בָּהּ שֶׁהִיא גְּזוּלָה בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא הִכִּיר בָּהּ אֵין לוֹ מִן הַהוֹצָאָה אֶלָּא שִׁעוּר הַשֶּׁבַח נוֹטֵל מִבַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה וְהַקֶּרֶן נוֹטֵל מִן הַגַּזְלָן מִנְּכָסִים מְשֻׁעְבָּדִין:


The following rules apply when a person obtains a field by robbery, sells it, and the purchaser derives benefit from its produce. He should calculate the value of the produce that he consumed and pay that to the owner of the field. He should collect this money from the property in the possession of robber.

If he was aware that it was obtained by robbery, he is not entitled to reimbursement for the produce, and may collect only the principal from the robber.


הַגּוֹזֵל שָׂדֶה וּמְכָרָהּ וְאָכַל הַלּוֹקֵחַ פֵּרוֹתֶיהָ מְחַשְּׁבִין עָלָיו כָּל הַפֵּרוֹת שֶׁאָכַל וּמְשַׁלֵּם לְבַעַל הַשָּׂדֶה וְחוֹזֵר וְגוֹבֶה אוֹתָן מִן הַגַּזְלָן מִנְּכָסִים בְּנֵי חוֹרִין. וְאִם הִכִּיר בָּהּ שֶׁגְּזוּלָה הִיא אֵין לוֹ פֵּרוֹת וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה מִן הַגַּזְלָן אֶלָּא הַקֶּרֶן בִּלְבַד:


When a person sells a field that does not belong to him, the sale is not binding and the purchaser does not acquire anything, as we have explained. If, however, after selling the field, the robber purchased the field from its rightful owner, the sale to the purchaser is binding.

Even if the robber gave the field obtained by robbery away as a present and then purchased it from its rightful owner, the present is binding, because the thief took the trouble to purchase it so that he will have acted in good faith.


הַמּוֹכֵר שָׂדֶה שֶׁאֵינָהּ שֶׁלּוֹ אֵין מִמְכָּרוֹ מִמְכָּר וְלֹא קָנָה לוֹקֵחַ כְּלוּם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. חָזַר הַגַּזְלָן אַחַר שֶׁמְּכָרָהּ וּלְקָחָהּ מִבְּעָלֶיהָ נִתְקַיְּמָה בְּיַד הַלּוֹקֵחַ מִן הַגַּזְלָן. וַאֲפִלּוּ נְתָנָהּ לוֹ הַגַּזְלָן מַתָּנָה כְּשֶׁהָיְתָה גְּזוּלָה בְּיָדוֹ כֵּיוָן שֶׁחָזַר וּלְקָחָהּ נִתְקַיְּמָה בְּיַד זֶה שֶׁקִּבֵּל הַמַּתָּנָה שֶׁמִּפְּנֵי זֶה טָרַח הַגַּזְלָן עַד שֶׁקְּנָאָהּ כְּדֵי לַעֲמֹד בְּנֶאֱמָנוּתוֹ:


For this reason, if the purchaser sued the robber for selling him a field that did not belong to him, the robber was obligated to pay, the court ordered that an announcement be made regarding the sale of the robber's property in order to pay the purchaser, and the robber purchased the field from its rightful owner after the announcement was made, the original sale to the purchaser is not binding.

Since a public announcement was made to expropriate his property, it was revealed that the robber had not acted in good faith. We thus conclude that he did not purchase the field from its rightful owner in order to establish the validity of the original sale.


לְפִיכָךְ אִם תָּבַע הַלּוֹקֵחַ אֶת הַגַּזְלָן מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמָּכַר לוֹ שָׂדֶה שֶׁאֵינָהּ שֶׁלּוֹ וְנִתְחַיֵּב לְשַׁלֵּם וְהִתְחִיל בֵּית דִּין לְהַכְרִיז עַל נִכְסֵי הַגַּזְלָן כְּדֵי לְהַגְבּוֹת מֵהֶן לַלּוֹקֵחַ וְאַחַר שֶׁהִתְחִילוּ הַהַכְרָזָה לְקָחָהּ הַגַּזְלָן מִן הַבְּעָלִים לֹא נִתְקַיְּמָה בְּיַד הַלּוֹקֵחַ. שֶׁמֵּאַחַר שֶׁהִכְרִיזוּ עַל נְכָסָיו נִתְגַּלָּה שֶׁאֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן וְלֹא לְקָחָהּ מִן הַבְּעָלִים כְּדֵי לְהַעֲמִידָהּ בְּיַד הַלּוֹקֵחַ:


If after selling the field he obtained by robbery, the robber purchased it from its rightful owner, but then sold it again, gave it away as a present or endowed it as an inheritance to another person, he has indicated that his intent in purchasing the field was not to establish the validity of the sale to the person who bought it after it was obtained by robbery.

Similarly, if the robber acquired the property as an inheritance, the validity of the original sale is not established.


לְקָחָהּ הַגַּזְלָן מִן הַבְּעָלִים אַחַר שֶׁמְּכָרָהּ כְּשֶׁהִיא גְּזוּלָה וְחָזַר וּמְכָרָהּ לְאַחֵר אוֹ נְתָנָהּ בְּמַתָּנָה אוֹ הוֹרִישָׁהּ. הֲרֵי גִּלָּה דַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְהַעֲמִידָהּ בְּיַד זֶה שֶׁלְּקָחָהּ מִמֶּנּוּ כְּשֶׁהָיְתָה גְּזוּלָה. וְכֵן אִם נָפְלָה לַגַּזְלָן בִּירֻשָּׁה לֹא נִתְקַיְּמָה בְּיַד הַלּוֹקֵחַ:


The following principles apply if the robber expropriated from its owner the property that he had sold as payment for a debt. If the owner had property other than this, and the robber told him: "I want to collect this," we assume that his intent was to establish the validity of his sale. If, however, the owner had no other property besides this, his intent could have been solely to collect his debt.


גְּבָאָהּ הַגַּזְלָן בְּחוֹבוֹ. אִם יֵשׁ לַנִּגְזָל קַרְקַע אַחֶרֶת וְאָמַר לוֹ הַגַּזְלָן זוֹ אֲנִי גּוֹבֶה בְּחוֹבִי הֲרֵי זֶה מִתְכַּוֵּן לְהַעֲמִידָהּ בְּיַד הַלּוֹקֵחַ. וְאִם אֵין לַנִּגְזָל קַרְקַע אֶלָּא זוֹ לִגְבּוֹת חוֹבוֹ הוּא שֶׁנִּתְכַּוֵּן:


If the original owner gave the property to the robber later as a present, the purchaser acquires it. The rationale is that if the robber had not exerted himself on behalf of the owner, he would not have given him a present. Why then did he exert himself on behalf of the owner? So that the owner would give him the property and then he could act in good faith and establish the validity of his original sale.


נְתָנוּהָ הַבְּעָלִים לַגַּזְלָן מַתָּנָה קְנָאָהּ הַלּוֹקֵחַ שֶׁאִלּוּ לֹא טָרַח לַבְּעָלִים לֹא הָיוּ נוֹתְנִים לוֹ בְּמַתָּנָה וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה טָרַח כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּזְכֶּה בָּהּ בְּדִין וְיַעֲמֹד בְּנֶאֱמָנוּתוֹ וְתִתְקַיֵּם בְּיַד הַלּוֹקֵחַ:


The following rules apply when a person obtains a field by robbery, and after it was established that his intent was to take it by robbery, he then purchases it from the original owner. If the original owner claims: "I was acting under coercion at the time that I sold it to him. I sold it to him against my will, because he was a robber," the robber does not acquire the field, even though there are witnesses that he purchased the field in their presence. Instead, the field should be restored to its original owner, and the robber should be given back the money that he paid.


הַגּוֹזֵל שָׂדֶה וְאַחַר שֶׁגְּזָלָהּ וְהֻחְזַק גַּזְלָן עָלֶיהָ חָזַר וּלְקָחָהּ מִבְּעָלִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים וְטָעַן הַנִּגְזָל וְאָמַר אָנוּס הָיִיתִי בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁמְּכַרְתִּיהָ לוֹ וְשֶׁלֹּא לְדַעְתִּי מָכַרְתִּי מֵחֲמַת גַּזְלָנוּתוֹ לֹא זָכָה הַגַּזְלָן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ עֵדִים שֶׁבִּפְנֵיהֶם לְקָחָהּ וְתַחְזֹר הַשָּׂדֶה לַבְּעָלִים וּמַחְזִירִין לַגַּזְלָן הַדָּמִים שֶׁנָּתַן:


When is the money returned to the robber? When the witnesses testify that he counted out the money in their presence.

If, however, the witnesses testify that the owner of the land sold the robber the field and acknowledged that he gave him such and such an amount of money in their presence, and the owner claims that he never received the money and acknowledged this only because of his fear of the robber, then the robber is not given anything. Instead, the field is expropriated from him without payment. Since it has been established that the field was taken by robbery, we believe the owner's claim that he acknowledged the payment only out of fear.


בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהֵעִידוּ הָעֵדִים שֶׁמָּנָה בִּפְנֵיהֶם אֶת הַמָּעוֹת. אֲבָל אִם הֵעִידוּ שֶׁבַּעַל הַקַּרְקַע מָכַר לַגַּזְלָן וְהוֹדָה לוֹ בִּפְנֵיהֶם שֶׁנָּתַן לוֹ דָּמִים כָּךְ וְכָךְ וְהַנִּגְזָל טוֹעֵן שֶׁלֹּא נָתַן לוֹ דָּמִים וּמֵחֲמַת יִרְאָה הוֹדָה לוֹ אֵין לַגַּזְלָן כְּלוּם אֶלָּא מוֹצִיאִין מִמֶּנּוּ הַשָּׂדֶה בְּלֹא דָּמִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא הוֹדָה לוֹ אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי הַפַּחַד כְּשֶׁטָּעַן הוֹאִיל וְהֻחְזַק גַּזְלָן עָלֶיהָ:


The owner of the field does not have to issue a protest over the sale in such an instance, for it has been established that the field was taken by robbery, and any proof of ownership brought by the robber is not accepted. For this reason, he need not issue a protest.

The laws pertaining to a robber are not the same as those that apply when a person coerces a colleague and inflicts physical harm upon him until he sells the property to him. For the person who applies coercion intends to rob, but as yet has not robbed. Therefore, in that instance, if the owner does not issue a protest, the sale is binding.


אֵין בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה צָרִיךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת מוֹדָעָה עַל מֶכֶר זֶה הוֹאִיל וְהֻחְזַק זֶה גַּזְלָן עַל שָׂדֶה זוֹ וְאֵין רְאָיָתוֹ בָּהּ רְאָיָה. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לִמְסֹר מוֹדָעָה. וְאֵין דִּין גַּזְלָן כְּדִין הָאוֹנֵס אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ וְתָלָה אוֹתוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּמְכֹּר לוֹ. שֶׁזֶּה הָאוֹנֵס אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לִגְזל וְלֹא גְּזָלוֹ עֲדַיִן כְּלוּם. לְפִיכָךְ אִם לֹא מָסַר הַמּוֹכֵר הָאָנוּס מוֹדָעָא מִמְכָּרוֹ קַיָּם:

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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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