The following rules apply when an unpaid watchman says, "I desire to pay and not to take an oath: If the entrusted article is of a uniform type and it is possible to purchase such articles in the marketplace - e.g., produce, reams of wool and flax that are entirely uniform, beams on which images have not been carved, or the like - he may pay the value of the article and be excused from taking an oath.

If, however, the entrusted article was an animal, a decorated garment, a utensil that had been fixed, or an article that is not easily available to purchase in the marketplace, we suspect that the watchman coveted it for himself. We therefore require him to take an oath as instituted by our Sages, while holding a sacred article, that the entrusted object is no longer in his possession. Afterwards, he must make restitution.

The same law applies to other watchmen - e.g., a borrower who says that an entrusted animal died or was stolen, or a paid watchman, or a renter who says that an entrusted article was stolen or lost. Even though they are obligated to pay, they are required to take an oath that the article is no longer in their possession. Afterwards, they must make financial restitution for the entrusted animal or article. The rationale is that we suspect that the watchman coveted it for himself.

If the owner claims that the entrusted article was worth more than the watchman admits, he must also include in his oath that it was worth only such and such. Thus, every watchman who takes the oath required of watchmen must include three matters in the oath:

a) that he cared for the article in a manner appropriate for a watchman;

b) that this and this happened to the article and it is no longer in his domain; and

c) that he did not use the article for his own purposes before the event that absolves him of responsibility took place.

If he desires to make financial restitution, he must take an oath that the article is no longer in his domain and include in his oath that it is worth such and such.


שׁוֹמֵר חִנָּם שֶׁאָמַר הֲרֵינִי מְשַׁלֵּם וְאֵינִי נִשְׁבָּע אִם הַפִּקָּדוֹן דָּבָר שֶׁכָּל מִינוֹ שָׁוֶה וּמָצוּי בַּשּׁוּק לִקְנוֹת כְּמוֹתוֹ כְּגוֹן פֵּרוֹת אוֹ יְרִיעוֹת שֶׁל צֶמֶר וְשֶׁל פִּשְׁתָּן הַשָּׁווֹת בְּכָל עִנְיָנָם אוֹ קוֹרוֹת שֶׁאֵינָן מְצֻיָּרוֹת וְכָל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן הֲרֵי זֶה מְשַׁלֵּם וְאֵינוֹ נִשְׁבָּע. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה פִּקְדוֹן בְּהֵמָה אוֹ בֶּגֶד מְצֻיָּר אוֹ כְּלִי מְתֻקָּן אוֹ דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ מוֹצֵא לִקְנוֹת כְּמוֹתוֹ בַּשּׁוּק חוֹשְׁשִׁין שֶׁמָּא עֵינָיו נָתַן בּוֹ וּמַשְׁבִּיעִין אוֹתוֹ בְּתַקָּנַת חֲכָמִים שְׁבוּעָה בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ שֶׁאֵינוֹ בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ מְשַׁלֵּם. וְהוּא הַדִּין לִשְׁאָר הַשּׁוֹמְרִין כְּגוֹן הַשּׁוֹאֵל שֶׁאָמַר מֵתָה אוֹ נִגְנְבָה וְשׁוֹמֵר שָׂכָר וְהַשּׂוֹכֵר שֶׁאָמַר נִגְנְבָה אוֹ שֶׁאָבְדָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן חַיָּבִין לְשַׁלֵּם מַשְׁבִּיעִין אוֹתָן שְׁבוּעָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ בִּרְשׁוּתָן וְאַחַר כָּךְ מְשַׁלְּמִין דְּמֵי הַבְּהֵמָה אוֹ הַחֵפֶץ שֶׁאָנוּ חוֹשְׁשִׁין לוֹ שֶׁמָּא עֵינָיו נָתַן בָּהּ. וְאִם אָמְרוּ הַבְּעָלִים יֶתֶר עַל זֶה הָיָה שָׁוֶה כּוֹלֵל בִּשְׁבוּעָתוֹ שֶׁאֵינָהּ שָׁוָה אֶלָּא כָּךְ וְכָךְ. נִמְצָא כָּל שׁוֹמֵר שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע שְׁבוּעַת הַשּׁוֹמְרִין כּוֹלֵל בִּשְׁבוּעָתוֹ שְׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים. שֶׁשָּׁמַר כְּדֶרֶךְ הַשּׁוֹמְרִין. וְשֶׁאֵרְעוֹ כָּךְ וְכָךְ וְאֵינוֹ בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ. וְשֶׁלֹּא שָׁלַח בּוֹ יָד קֹדֶם שֶׁאֵרְעוֹ הַמְאֹרָע הַפּוֹטֵר אוֹתוֹ. וְאִם רָצָה לְשַׁלֵּם נִשְׁבָּע שֶׁאֵינוֹ בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ וְכוֹלֵל בִּשְׁבוּעָתוֹ שֶׁכָּךְ וְכָךְ הָיָה שָׁוֶה:


When accepting articles for safekeeping, a watchman may stipulate that he will not guard the articles in a manner appropriate for a watchman; instead: "Money that is entrusted to me, I will keep in the corner of my house," or the like.

The following rule applies if the watchman claims that he made such a stipulation and the owner agreed, and the owner claims that such a stipulation was never made. The watchman's claim is accepted. This applies even if the owner entrusted it to him in the presence of witnesses. The rationale is that since he could have claimed: "I guarded it in a manner appropriate for a watchman, but it was destroyed by forces beyond my control," we accept his claim that he made such a stipulation. Therefore, he must take an oath that he did not use the article for his own purposes, that it is not in his possession, and that he had made such a stipulation.


יֵשׁ לַשּׁוֹמֵר לְהַתְנוֹת שֶׁאֵינוֹ שׁוֹמֵר כְּדֶרֶךְ הַשּׁוֹמְרִין אֶלָּא מָעוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁהִפְקִיד אֶצְלִי בְּזָוִית בֵּיתִי אֲנִי מַנִּיחַ אוֹתָן וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. טָעַן הַשּׁוֹמֵר שֶׁתְּנַאי הָיָה בֵּינֵינוּ וּבַעַל הַפִּקָּדוֹן אוֹמֵר לֹא הָיָה שָׁם תְּנַאי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִפְקִיד אֶצְלוֹ בְּעֵדִים מִתּוֹךְ שֶׁיָּכוֹל לוֹמַר שָׁמַרְתִּי כְּדֶרֶךְ הַשּׁוֹמְרִין וְנֶאֱנַסְתִּי נֶאֱמָן לוֹמַר שֶׁהָיָה בֵּינֵיהֶן תְּנַאי לְפִיכָךְ יִשָּׁבַע שֶׁלֹּא שָׁלַח יָד בּוֹ וְשֶׁאֵינוֹ בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ וְשֶׁהָיָה בֵּינֵיהֶן תְּנַאי:


When an unpaid watchman brings proof that he was not negligent, he is not required to take an oath. We do not suspect that he used the article for his own purposes before it was lost.

If the owner of the entrusted article brings proof that the watchman was negligent, the watchman must make restitution. If he claims that the owner had agreed to his stipulation that he not be required to guard the article in the manner required by witnesses, his claim is not accepted. The rationale is that there are witnesses who testify that he was negligent.


שׁוֹמֵר חִנָּם שֶׁהֵבִיא רְאָיָה שֶׁלֹּא פָּשַׁע בָּהּ פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעָה וְאֵין אוֹמְרִים שֶׁמָּא שָׁלַח בּוֹ יָד קֹדֶם שֶׁיֹּאבַד. וּבַעַל הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁהֵבִיא רְאָיָה שֶׁפָּשַׁע הַשּׁוֹמֵר מְשַׁלֵּם. וְאִם טָעַן וְאָמַר תְּנַאי הָיָה בֵּינֵינוּ אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן שֶׁהֲרֵי יֵשׁ עֵדִים שֶׁפָּשַׁע:


When a person entrusts an article to a colleague in the presence of witnesses, there is a disagreement between the owner and the watchman, and the witnesses testify that the article that we see is the article that was entrusted in their presence, the watchman cannot claim: "Afterwards, I purchased it from him," or "He gave it to me as a present."

Therefore, if the watchman dies, the entrusted article may be expropriated from the orphans without an oath. Moreover, should a person come and tell an heir: "I entrusted this and this article with your father," and give very explicit signs to identify the article, if the entrusted article is found as he described it, and the judge knows that the deceased was not likely to have such an article, the judge may award the article to the person who identified it with the signs.

This law applies provided the person who claims that the article is his would not frequently visit the deceased. If, however, he would frequently visit him we do not award him the article. We suspect that perhaps it belongs to another person, and the claimant merely became familiar with its identifying characteristics.

If witnesses come and testify that the deceased is not likely to have owned the article, we do not expropriate the article from the orphans because of their testimony. For their estimation of the deceased's financial capacity is not necessarily that of the judge, and the judge should follow only information that he feels that he can rely on, as will be explained in Hilchot Sanhedrin.

An incident occurred concerning a person who entrusted sesame seeds to a colleague in the presence of witnesses and later came to claim them. The watchman replied: "I returned them."

The owner answered: "They were of this and this measure and they are now held in your jug."

The watchman responded: "I returned yours, and these are others."

The Sages ruled that the sesame seeds should not be expropriated from his possession, for perhaps these sesame seeds belonged to the watchman. Instead, the watchman is required to take an oath while holding a sacred object that he returned the entrusted object, as we have explained.


הִפְקִיד אֵצֶל חֲבֵרוֹ בְּעֵדִים וּבָאוּ עֵדִים שֶׁזֶּה הַחֵפֶץ בְּפָנֵינוּ הִפְקִידוֹ אֶצְלוֹ אֵין הַשּׁוֹמֵר יָכוֹל לִטְעֹן וְלוֹמַר חָזַרְתִּי וּלְקַחְתִּיו מִמֶּנּוּ אוֹ נְתָנוֹ לִי בְּמַתָּנָה. לְפִיכָךְ אִם מֵת הַשּׁוֹמֵר מוֹצִיאִין הַפִּקָּדוֹן עַצְמוֹ מִן הַיְתוֹמִים בְּלֹא שְׁבוּעָה. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא מִי שֶׁבָּא וְאָמַר כָּךְ וְכָךְ הִפְקַדְתִּי אֵצֶל אֲבִיכֶם וְנָתַן סִימָנִין מֻבְהָקִין וְנִמְצָא הַפִּקָּדוֹן כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר וְהָיָה יוֹדֵעַ הַדַּיָּן שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה הַמֵּת אָמוּד שֶׁזֶּה הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁלּוֹ. יֵשׁ לוֹ לַדַּיָּן הַזֶּה לָתֵת הַפִּקָּדוֹן לְזֶה שֶׁנָּתַן סִימָנָיו. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה הַמַּפְקִיד רָגִיל לְהִכָּנֵס אֵצֶל זֶה שֶׁמֵּת אֲבָל אִם הָיָה רָגִיל לִכָּנֵס אֶצְלוֹ שֶׁמָּא שֶׁל אַחֵר הוּא וְהִכִּיר הַסִּימָנִין שֶׁלּוֹ. בָּאוּ עֵדִים וְהֵעִידוּ לַדַּיָּן שֶׁאֵין זֶה אָמוּד אֵין מוֹצִיאִין מִיַּד הַיְתוֹמִים בְּעֵדוּתָן שֶׁאֵין זֶה רְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה וְאֻמְדַּן דַּעְתָּן אֵינוֹ אֹמֶד דַּעְתּוֹ וְאֵין לוֹ לַדַּיָּן אֶלָּא מַה שֶּׁדַּעְתּוֹ סוֹמֶכֶת עָלָיו כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּהִלְכוֹת סַנְהֶדְרִין. מַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁהִפְקִיד שֻׁמְשְׁמִין אֵצֶל חֲבֵרוֹ בְּעֵדִים וּבָא לְתָבְעוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ הֶחְזַרְתִּים. אָמַר לוֹ הַמַּפְקִיד וַהֲלֹא כָּךְ וְכָךְ הִיא מִדָּתָם וַהֲרֵי הֵם מֻנָּחִים אֶצְלְךָ בְּחָבִיתְךָ. אָמַר לוֹ שֶׁלְּךָ הֶחְזַרְתִּי לְךָ וְאֵלּוּ אֲחֵרִים הֵן. וְאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אֵין מוֹצִיאִין מִיָּדוֹ שֶׁמָּא אֵלּוּ הַשֻּׁמְשְׁמִין שֶׁל שׁוֹמֵר הֵן אֶלָּא יִשָּׁבַע הַשּׁוֹמֵר בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ שֶׁהֶחְזִיר כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:


The following rules apply when the owner of an entrusted object asks for the return of that object and the watchman gives it to him, but a difference of opinion arises between them. For example, the owner claims: "This is not the article I entrusted, but a different one," "My article was whole, and you broke it," "It was new and you used it," or "I entrusted 100 se'ah to you, and there are only 50 here." The watchman responds to these claims, saying: "This is the article you personally deposited. You will be taking what you gave me."

In all such instances, the watchman is required merely to take a sh'vuat hesset, as is required of others who must take oaths in response to such claims. For a watchman is not obligated to take the oath required of watchmen mentioned in the Torah unless he admits accepting responsibility for the very article that the owner claims, but asserts that it was stolen, it died, or it was captured.

The general principle is: When a watchman makes a claim that absolves him from payment, he is required to take the oath required of watchmen. If, however, he says, "This is the article that you lent me," "... hired to me," or "... paid me for watching," and the owner claims that the article he seeks to return is not the one given or that it was changed from its original state, the renter is required to take merely a sh'vuat hesset, or a Scriptural oath if he admits a portion of the plaintiff's claim.

What is implied? If the owner claims: "I entrusted 100 se'ah to you," and the watchman claims: "You only entrusted 50," he is required to take a Scriptural oath, because he admitted a portion of the claim, not because it is the oath required of a watchman. If the owner claims: "I entrusted 100 se'ah of wheat to you," and the watchman claims: "You entrusted only 100 se'ah of barley," he is merely required to take a sh'vuat hesset, as others who would have to take an oath with regard to this claim.


בַּעַל הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁתָּבַע פִּקְדּוֹנוֹ וְנָתַן לוֹ הַשּׁוֹמֵר וְאָמַר הַמַּפְקִיד אֵין זֶה פִּקְדוֹנִי אֶלָּא אַחֵר הוּא אוֹ שָׁלֵם הָיָה וְאַתָּה שְׁבַרְתּוֹ אוֹ חָדָשׁ הָיָה וְנִשְׁתַּמַּשְׁתָּ בּוֹ. מֵאָה סְאִין הִפְקַדְתִּי אֶצְלְךָ וְאֵין אֵלּוּ אֶלָּא חֲמִשִּׁים וּבַעַל הַבַּיִת אוֹמֵר זֶהוּ שֶׁהִפְקַדְתָּ בְּעַצְמְךָ וּמַה שֶּׁנָּתַתָּ אַתָּה נוֹטֵל. הֲרֵי הַשּׁוֹמֵר נִשְׁבָּע הֶסֵּת כִּשְׁאָר כָּל הַנִּשְׁבָּעִין שֶׁאֵין כָּל שׁוֹמֵר נִשְׁבָּע שְׁבוּעַת הַשּׁוֹמְרִין הָאֲמוּרָה בַּתּוֹרָה אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן שֶׁמּוֹדֶה בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁל פִּקָּדוֹן כְּמוֹ שֶׁהַמַּפְקִיד אוֹמֵר וְטוֹעֵן שֶׁנִּגְנַב אוֹ מֵת אוֹ נִשְׁבָּה. כְּלָלוֹ שֶׁל דָּבָר טוֹעֵן לִפְטֹר עַצְמוֹ מִן הַתַּשְׁלוּמִין [נִשְׁבָּע שְׁבוּעַת שׁוֹמְרִין]. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר זֶהוּ שֶׁהִשְׁאַלְתַּנִי אוֹ שֶׁהִשְׂכַּרְתָּ לִי אוֹ שֶׁנָּטַלְתִּי שָׂכָר עַל שְׁמִירָתִי וְהַבְּעָלִים אוֹמְרִים אֵינוֹ זֶה אֶלָּא אַחֵר אוֹ נִשְׁתַּנָּה מִכְּמוֹת שֶׁהָיָה הַשּׂוֹכֵר נִשְׁבָּע הֶסֵּת אוֹ שְׁבוּעַת הַתּוֹרָה אִם הוֹדָה בְּמִקְצָת. כֵּיצַד. מֵאָה סְאָה הִפְקַדְתִּי אֶצְלְךָ וְהַשּׁוֹמֵר אוֹמֵר לֹא הִפְקַדְתָּ אֶצְלִי אֶלָּא חֲמִשִּׁים נִשְׁבָּע שְׁבוּעַת הַתּוֹרָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוֹדָה בְּמִקְצָת לֹא מִשּׁוּם שְׁבוּעַת הַשּׁוֹמְרִין. מֵאָה כּוֹר שֶׁל חִטִּים הִפְקַדְתִּי אֶצְלְךָ וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא הִפְקַדְתָּ אֶצְלִי אֶלָּא מֵאָה שֶׁל שְׂעוֹרִים נִשְׁבָּע הֶסֵּת כִּשְׁאָר כָּל הַנִּשְׁבָּעִין בְּטַעֲנָה כָּזוֹ: