Introduction to Hilchos She'elah uFikkadon

They contain two positive mitzvot: The first, the laws pertaining to borrowers; and the second, the laws pertaining to an unpaid watchman. These mitzvot are explained in the chapters that follow.

הלכות שאלה ופקדון

יש בכללן שתי מצות עשה: ראשונה דין השואלים, שניה דין שומר חנם. וביאור מצות אלו בפרקים אלו:


When a person borrows utensils, an animal or other movable property from a colleague, and it is lost or stolen, or even if it is destroyed by factors beyond his control - e.g., an animal is injured, taken captive or dies - the borrower is required to make restitution for the entire worth of the article, as stated in Exodus 22:13: "If a person borrows an animal from a colleague and it will become injured or die, and the owner is not with him, he must make financial restitution."

When does the above apply? When the loss due to factors beyond his control does not take place while the borrower is working with the animal. If, however, a person borrows a colleague's animal to plow, and it dies while plowing, the borrower is not liable. If, however, the animal dies before he plowed with it or after he plowed with it, or he rode upon it or threshed with it and the animal died while he was threshing or riding, the borrower is liable to make financial restitution. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

Similarly, if a person borrows an animal to travel to a particular place and the animal dies under him on that journey, he borrows a bucket to fill water with it and it falls apart in the cistern while he is filling it, he borrows a hatchet to split wood and it breaks because of the chopping while he is splitting the wood, he is not liable. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations. The rationale is that he borrowed the article solely to perform this task, and he did not deviate from his original request.


הַשּׁוֹאֵל כֵּלִים אוֹ בְּהֵמָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מִשְּׁאָר מִטַּלְטְלִין מֵחֲבֵרוֹ וְאָבַד אוֹ נִגְנַב אֲפִלּוּ נֶאֱנַס אֹנֶס גָּדוֹל כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּשְׁבְּרָה הַבְּהֵמָה אוֹ נִשְׁבֵּית אוֹ מֵתָה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם הַכּל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כב יג) "וְכִי יִשְׁאַל אִישׁ מֵעִם רֵעֵהוּ" וְגוֹ' (שמות כב יג) "וְנִשְׁבַּר אוֹ מֵת בְּעָלָיו אֵין עִמּוֹ שַׁלֵּם יְשַׁלֵּם". בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁנֶּאֱנַס שֶׁלֹּא בִּשְׁעַת מְלָאכָה. אֲבָל אִם שָׁאַל בְּהֵמָה מֵחֲבֵרוֹ לַחְרשׁ בָּהּ וּמֵתָה כְּשֶׁהִיא חוֹרֶשֶׁת הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. אֲבָל אִם מֵתָה קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּחֲרשׁ בָּהּ אוֹ אַחַר שֶׁחָרַשׁ בָּהּ אוֹ שֶׁרָכַב עָלֶיהָ אוֹ דָּשׁ בָּהּ וּמֵתָה כְּשֶׁהִיא דָּשָׁה אוֹ בִּשְׁעַת רְכִיבָה הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. וְכֵן הַשּׁוֹאֵל בְּהֵמָה מֵחֲבֵרוֹ לֵילֵךְ בָּהּ לְמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי וּמֵתָה תַּחְתָּיו בְּאוֹתָהּ הַדֶּרֶךְ. אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁאַל דְּלִי לְמַלְּאוֹת בּוֹ וְנִקְרַע בַּבּוֹר בִּשְׁעַת מִלּוּי. אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁאַל קַרְדֹּם לְפַצֵּל בּוֹ עֵצִים וְנִשְׁבַּר בְּעֵת שֶׁפִּצֵּל בּוֹ מֵחֲמַת הַבִּקּוּעַ. וְכָל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר שֶׁלֹּא שָׁאַל אֶלָּא לַעֲשׂוֹת בּוֹ מְלָאכָה זוֹ וַהֲרֵי לֹא שִׁנָּה:


The following rules apply when a person borrows an animal from a colleague, it dies, and the borrower claims that it died while in the midst of work. If he borrowed it to travel to a place where people are commonly present, he must bring witnesses who testify that it died or it was destroyed by forces beyond his control while he was working with it, and he did not deviate from his original request. He is then freed of liability. If he does not bring proof, he is liable.

Different rules apply when a person borrows an animal to fill up the earth in his ruin, i.e., a place where it is not common for witnesses to be present, or he borrowed a bucket to fill the cistern in his house and the bucket was destroyed in the cistern. If he brings proof that the animal or the object was destroyed in the process of performing the task for which it was borrowed, he is not liable even to take an oath. If he cannot bring proof, he must take the oath required of watchmen that the animal died during the performance of the task for which it was borrowed. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.


הַשּׁוֹאֵל בְּהֵמָה מֵחֲבֵרוֹ וּמֵתָה וְטָעַן הַשּׁוֹאֵל שֶׁבִּשְׁעַת מְלָאכָה מֵתָה. אִם הָיָה הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁשָּׁאֲלָה לֵילֵךְ בּוֹ מָקוֹם שֶׁבְּנֵי אָדָם מְצוּיִין שָׁם יָבִיא רְאָיָה שֶׁמֵּתָה אוֹ נֶאֶנְסָה בִּשְׁעַת מְלָאכָה וְשֶׁלֹּא שִׁנָּה בָּהּ וְיִפָּטֵר. וְאִם לֹא הֵבִיא רְאָיָה מְשַׁלֵּם. שָׁאֲלָה מִמֶּנּוּ לְמַלְּאוֹת בָּהּ עָפָר שֶׁבְּחֻרְבָּתוֹ שֶׁאֵין הָעֵדִים מְצוּיִין שָׁם. אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁאַל מִמֶּנּוּ דְּלִי לְמַלְּאוֹת בּוֹ הַבּוֹר בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ וְנִקְרַע בַּבּוֹר. אִם הֵבִיא רְאָיָה יִפָּטֵר אַף מִשְּׁבוּעָה וְאִם לָאו יִשָּׁבַע הַשּׁוֹאֵל שְׁבוּעַת הַשּׁוֹמְרִים שֶׁמֵּתָה בִּשְׁעַת מְלָאכָה וְיִפָּטֵר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:


When a person borrows a utensil from a colleague and it breaks, the utensil is evaluated in the same way as a utensil one damages is evaluated. We evaluate how much the object was worth while it was complete and how much it is worth in its present state. The borrower returns the broken utensil or the injured animal to the owner and makes financial restitution for the damages. Similarly, if the animal dies, he may return the carcass and make restitution for the animal's decrease in value.


הַשּׁוֹאֵל כְּלִי מֵחֲבֵרוֹ וְנִשְׁבַּר שָׁמִין לוֹ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁשָּׁמִין בִּנְזָקִין. אוֹמְדִין כַּמָּה הָיָה שָׁוֶה שָׁלֵם וְכַמָּה הוּא שָׁוֶה עַתָּה וּמַחֲזִיר לוֹ הַכְּלִי אוֹ הַבְּהֵמָה הַשְּׁבוּרָה וּמְשַׁלֵּם הַפְּחָת. וְכֵן אִם מֵתָה הַבְּהֵמָה מַחְזִיר הַנְּבֵלָה וּמְשַׁלֵּם הַפְּחָת:


When a person borrows an animal, he becomes liable to provide it with food from the time he performs meshichah until the conclusion of the time for which he borrowed it. If its meat depreciates in value, he is liable to pay for that reduction. If its meat depreciates in value because of the work the animal performs, he is not liable. He must, however, take the oath required of a watchman, swearing that it depreciated because of the work.


הַשּׁוֹאֵל בְּהֵמָה חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹתֶיהָ מִשָּׁעָה שֶׁמְּשָׁכָהּ עַד סוֹף יְמֵי שְׁאֵלָתָהּ. וְאִם כָּחַשׁ בְּשָׂרָהּ חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם מַה שֶּׁפָּחֲתָה בְּדָמֶיהָ. כָּחַשׁ בְּשָׂרָהּ מֵחֲמַת הַמְּלָאכָה פָּטוּר וְיִשָּׁבַע שְׁבוּעַת הַשּׁוֹמְרִין שֶׁמֵּחֲמַת מְלָאכָה כָּחֲשָׁה:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


When a person borrows an article or an animal from a colleague without making any stipulation, the lender may require him to return it at any time. If he borrowed it for a set time, once he performs meshichah with it, he acquires it, and the owner may not compel the borrower to return it from his possession until the conclusion of the period for which it was borrowed. Indeed, even if the borrower dies, his heirs are entitled to continue using the borrowed article until the conclusion of the period for which it was lent out.

This concept can be appreciated by logical deduction. A purchaser acquires the body of the article he purchases forever in return for the money he gave. The recipient of a present acquires the body of the article he receives forever, although he did not give anything. Similarly, a renter acquires the body of an article for the sake of deriving benefit from it for a limited time in return for the money he gave. And a borrower acquires the body of an article for the sake of deriving benefit from it for a limited time without giving anything. Thus, just as the giver of a present resembles a seller in that he cannot retract his gift forever, so too, a person who lends an article resembles one who hires it out, in that he cannot retract in the midst of the term of the agreement.

When a father leaves his sons a cow that he had borrowed and it dies, they are not liable for the loss its owner suffers [because that is a factor beyond their control]. If they thought that it belonged to their father and they slaughtered it and ate it, they are required to pay the price of its meat at a low price. If their father left them an estate, and the borrowed cow died or was slaughtered by them, they must pay its worth from the estate.


הַשּׁוֹאֵל כְּלִי מֵחֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ בְּהֵמָה סְתָם הֲרֵי הַמַּשְׁאִיל מַחְזִירוֹ בְּכָל עֵת שֶׁיִּרְצֶה. שְׁאָלוֹ לִזְמַן קָצוּב כֵּיוָן שֶׁמָּשַׁךְ וְזָכָה אֵין הַבְּעָלִים יְכוֹלִין לְהַחְזִירוֹ מִתַּחַת יָדוֹ עַד סוֹף יְמֵי הַשְּׁאֵלָה. וַאֲפִלּוּ מֵת הַשּׁוֹאֵל הֲרֵי הַיּוֹרְשִׁין מִשְׁתַּמְּשִׁין בַּשְּׁאֵלָה עַד סוֹף הַזְּמַן. וְדִין הוּא. הַלּוֹקֵחַ קוֹנֶה הַגּוּף קִנְיַן עוֹלָם בַּדָּמִים שֶׁנָּתַן וּמְקַבֵּל מַתָּנָה קָנָה הַגּוּף קִנְיַן עוֹלָם וְלֹא נָתַן כְּלוּם וְהַשּׂוֹכֵר קָנָה הַגּוּף לְפֵרוֹתָיו עַד זְמַן קָצוּב בַּדָּמִים שֶׁנָּתַן וְהַשּׁוֹאֵל קָנָה הַגּוּף לְפֵרוֹתָיו עַד זְמַן קָצוּב וְלֹא נָתַן כְּלוּם. כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהַנּוֹתֵן כַּמּוֹכֵר שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ לְעוֹלָם כָּךְ הַמַּשְׁאִיל כַּמַּשְׂכִּיר שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בְּתוֹךְ הַזְּמַן. הִנִּיחַ לָהֶם אֲבִיהֶם פָּרָה שְׁאוּלָה וּמֵתָה אֵין חַיָּבִין בָּאֳנָסֶיהָ. חָשְׁבוּ שֶׁהִיא שֶׁל אֲבִיהֶם טְבָחוּהָ וַאֲכָלוּהָ מְשַׁלְּמִין דְּמֵי בָּשָׂר בְּזוֹל. וְאִם הִנִּיחַ לָהֶם אֲבִיהֶם נְכָסִים וּמֵתָה אוֹ שֶׁטְּבָחוּהָ מְשַׁלְּמִין אֶת דָּמֶיהָ מִנְּכָסָיו:


When a person borrows a utensil for the sake of performing a particular task, the person who lent it cannot force the borrower to return it from his possession until the borrower performs that task. Similarly, if he borrows an animal in order to travel to a particular place, the owner may not compel the borrower to return it until he goes to that place and returns.


הַשּׁוֹאֵל כְּלִי מֵחֲבֵרוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת בּוֹ מְלָאכָה פְּלוֹנִית אֵין הַמַּשְׁאִיל יָכוֹל לְהַחְזִירוֹ מִתַּחַת יָדוֹ עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה בּוֹ אוֹתָהּ מְלָאכָה. וְכֵן אִם שָׁאַל מִמֶּנּוּ בְּהֵמָה לֵילֵךְ בָּהּ בְּמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַחְזִירָהּ מִיַּד הַשּׁוֹאֵל עַד שֶׁיֵּלֵךְ בָּהּ לְשָׁם וְיַחְזֹר:


When a person asks a colleague: "Lend me your spade to hoe this orchard," he is allowed to hoe only that particular orchard. He may not hoe another orchard with it.

If the borrower said: "to hoe an orchard" without describing it further, he may use it to hoe any orchard he desires. If he borrowed it to hoe his orchards, he may hoe all the orchards he owns. Even if the iron of the spade becomes entirely worn away while hoeing, it is sufficient for him to return the wooden handle of the hoe. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.


הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי קַרְדֹּם לַעֲדֹר בּוֹ הַפַּרְדֵּס הַזֶּה עוֹדֵר בּוֹ אוֹתוֹ הַפַּרְדֵּס בִּלְבַד וְאֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לַעֲדֹר בּוֹ פַּרְדֵּס אַחֵר. אָמַר לוֹ פַּרְדֵּס סְתָם עוֹדֵר בּוֹ פַּרְדֵּס אַחֵר אֵי זֶה שֶׁיִּרְצֶה. שְׁאָלוֹ לַעֲדֹר בּוֹ פַּרְדֵּסִים (הַרְבֵּה שֶׁלּוֹ) עוֹדֵר בּוֹ כָּל הַפַּרְדֵּסִים שֶׁלּוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ נִשְׁחַת כָּל הַבַּרְזֶל בַּעֲדִירָה מַחְזִיר לוֹ הַנִּצָּב שֶׁל עֵץ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:


The following rule applies when a person borrows a utensil from a colleague to use and tells him: "Lend me this item according to your generosity." That expression implies "Don't lend it to me like others who lend out articles, but according to the goodness of your heart and your generosity, that you will not be concerned about the time, even if it becomes extended."

If a kinyan was established with the lender concerning this, the borrower may use the article without limit until it is no longer suitable to perform its function. He must then return its broken pieces or the remnants. The borrower may not, however, fix the utensil and thus make it useful again.


הַשּׁוֹאֵל כְּלִי מֵחֲבֵרוֹ לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי דָּבָר פְּלוֹנִי בְּטוֹבָתְךָ כְּלוֹמַר אֵין אַתָּה מַשְׁאִיל לִי דָּבָר זֶה כְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל הַמַּשְׁאִילִין אֶלָּא כְּפִי טוֹבַת לִבְּךָ וְנִדְבוֹתֶיךָ שֶׁאֵינְךָ מַקְפִּיד עַל הַזְּמַן אִם אָרַךְ. אִם קָנוּ מִיַּד הַמַּשְׁאִיל עַל זֶה הֲרֵי הַשּׁוֹאֵל מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ לְעוֹלָם עַד שֶׁיִּתְבַּטֵּל הַכְּלִי מִלַּעֲשׂוֹת מְלַאכְתּוֹ וְיַחְזִיר שְׁבָרָיו אוֹ שְׁיָרָיו. וְאֵין הַשּׁוֹאֵל רַשַּׁאי לַחְזֹר וּלְתַקֵּן הַכְּלִי אוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ פַּעַם אַחֶרֶת:


When a person asks a colleague: "Lend me this stone tub of water," and it was destroyed, he may not rebuild it. If the borrower asks the owner: "Lend me a stone tub," without any description, and it is destroyed, he may rebuild it.

If he asked him: "Lend me the place of a stone tub," if a kinyan was established affirming this agreement, the borrower may build on the property of the lender until he constructs a stone tub that he may use to water his animal or irrigate his land, as he stipulated when speaking to the lender.


הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי שֹׁקֶת זוֹ שֶׁל מַיִם וְנֶהֶרְסָה [אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִבְנוֹתָהּ. אָמַר לוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי שֹׁקֶת סְתָם וְנֶהֶרְסָה] יֵשׁ לוֹ לִבְנוֹתָהּ. אָמַר לוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי מְקוֹם שֹׁקֶת אִם קָנוֹ מִיַּד הַמַּשְׁאִיל הֲרֵי הַשּׁוֹאֵל בּוֹנֶה וְהוֹלֵךְ בְּקַרְקַע הַמַּשְׁאִיל עַד שֶׁתָּבוֹא לְיָדוֹ שֹׁקֶת שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לְהַשְׁקוֹת מִמֶּנָּה בְּהֶמְתּוֹ אוֹ אַרְצוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִתְנָה עִם הַמַּשְׁאִיל:


When a person borrows an inn from a colleague "to spend the night," the intent is no less than one day. "To spend the Sabbath," the intent is no less than two days. "For marriage," the intent is no less than 30 days.

When a person borrows a garment from a colleague to visit a person in mourning, he may keep it for the time it takes to go and return. When a person borrows a garment to attend a wedding celebration, he may keep it for that entire day. If he borrows it for his own wedding, he may keep it for at least seven days.


הַשּׁוֹאֵל פֻּנְדָּק מֵחֲבֵרוֹ לְלִינָה אֵין פָּחוֹת מִיּוֹם אֶחָד. לִשְׁבִיתָה אֵין פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁנֵי יָמִים. לְנִשּׂוּאִים אֵין פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם. שָׁאַל חָלוּק מֵחֲבֵרוֹ לֵילֵךְ בּוֹ לְבֵית הָאָבֵל כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּלֵךְ וְיַחְזֹר. שְׁאָלוֹ לְבֵית הַמִּשְׁתֶּה כָּל אוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹם. שְׁאָלוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת הַמִּשְׁתֶּה שֶׁלּוֹ אֵין פָּחוֹת מִשִּׁבְעָה יָמִים: