When a person digs a cistern1 in the public domain, and an ox or a donkey falls into it and dies,2 the owner of the cistern is liable and is required to pay the full amount of the damages, as [Exodus 21:34] states: "The owner of the cistern must pay." [This applies] even if the cistern was filled with wads of wool or the like.3 [The intent] is not only an ox or a donkey, but any animal, beast or fowl. An ox and a donkey are mentioned only because these are the commonplace [examples].


הַחוֹפֵר בּוֹר בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְנָפַל לְתוֹכוֹ שׁוֹר אוֹ חֲמוֹר וּמֵת אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה הַבּוֹר מָלֵא גִּזּוֹת שֶׁל צֶמֶר וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן הֲרֵי בַּעַל הַבּוֹר חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא לד) "בַּעַל הַבּוֹר יְשַׁלֵּם". וְאֶחָד שׁוֹר וַחֲמוֹר אוֹ שְׁאָר מִינֵי בְּהֵמָה חַיָּה וְעוֹף לֹא נֶאֱמַר (שמות כא לג) "שׁוֹר וַחֲמוֹר" אֶלָּא בָּהוֹוֶה:


[The above applies] regardless of whether the person digs a cistern in the public domain,4 he digs it in his own property - but it is open to the public domain or to a domain belonging to a colleague5 - or he digs it in his own property with the opening to his own property, but afterwards, he declares the property - but not the cistern - ownerless.6 In all these instances, [the person who digs the cistern] is liable for the damages suffered. If, however, he declared his domain and the cistern ownerless, or he declared the cistern ownerless [while retaining possession of] his domain, or he consecrated it, he is not liable. [This is derived from the phrase:] "The owner of the cistern will pay." [Implied is that the cistern] must have an owner, while this cistern is ownerless. [Moreover, it cannot be compared to a cistern dug in the public domain,] since at the outset he was permitted to dig [the cistern], because it was on his property.


אֶחָד הַחוֹפֵר בּוֹר בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אוֹ הַחוֹפֵר בּוֹר בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ וּפִתְחוֹ לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אוֹ פָּתַח לִרְשׁוּת חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ שֶׁחָפַר וּפָתַח לִרְשׁוּתוֹ וְהִפְקִיר רְשׁוּתוֹ וְלֹא הִפְקִיר בּוֹרוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב בִּנְזָקָיו. אֲבָל אִם הִפְקִיר רְשׁוּתוֹ וּבוֹרוֹ אוֹ שֶׁהִפְקִיר בּוֹרוֹ שֶׁבִּרְשׁוּתוֹ אוֹ הִקְדִּישׁוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא לד) "בַּעַל הַבּוֹר יְשַׁלֵּם" מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בְּעָלִים וְזֶה הֶפְקֵר וּבַתְּחִלָּה בִּרְשׁוּת חָפַר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁחָפַר בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ:


[The above applies whether the person] dug the cistern himself, it came into being [on his property] through natural means, or it was dug by an animal or a beast.7 Since he is required to fill it up or cover it, and he did not, he is liable for the damages. [Similarly, the above applies] whether the person digs [the cistern himself] or purchases or receives as a present [a domain with a cistern]. This is derived from the phrase:] "The owner of the cistern will pay." [Implied is that if the cistern] has an owner [he is liable].


אֶחָד הַחוֹפֵר בּוֹר אוֹ שֶׁנֶּחְפַּר מֵאֵלָיו אוֹ שֶׁחֲפָרַתּוּ בְּהֵמָה אוֹ חַיָּה הוֹאִיל וְהוּא חַיָּב לְמַלְּאוֹתוֹ אוֹ לְכַסּוֹתוֹ וְלֹא עָשָׂה הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב בִּנְזָקָיו. ואֶחָד הַחוֹפֵר אוֹ הַלּוֹקֵחַ אוֹ שֶׁנִּתַּן לוֹ בְּמַתָּנָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא לד) "בַּעַל הַבּוֹר יְשַׁלֵּם" מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בְּעָלִים מִכָּל מָקוֹם:


Just as a person who digs [a cistern is liable], so too, is one who opens a cistern that was covered, as [Exodus 21:33] states: "If a person opens a cistern, or if a person digs a cistern." If [an owner] covered up a cistern in an appropriate manner and the cover decayed from within, and [because of this], an ox fell into the cistern and died, the owner is not liable. For the above verse continues: "And he did not cover it." And in this case, he covered it.8 [The following laws apply if the owner] covered [the cistern] with a covering that was strong enough to have oxen tread on it, but was not strong enough to have camels tread on it, camels trod on it and it became weakened, and then oxen trod on it and fell in. If camels are not [usually] found in such a place, [the owner] is not liable,9 for this is considered a factor beyond his control. If camels pass through this place, even infrequently, he is liable.10


אֶחָד הַחוֹפֵר אוֹ הַמְגַלֶּה מָקוֹם שֶׁהָיָה מְכֻסֶּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא לג) "כִי יִפְתַּח אִישׁ בּוֹר אוֹ כִּי יִכְרֶה". וְאִם כִסָּהוּ כָּרָאוּי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִתְלִיעַ מִתּוֹכוֹ וְנָפַל לְתוֹכוֹ שׁוֹר וּמֵת פָּטוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא לג) "וְלֹא יְכַסֶּנּוּ" הָא אִם כִּסָּהוּ פָּטוּר. כִּסָּהוּ בְּדָבָר שֶׁיָּכוֹל לַעֲמֹד בִּפְנֵי שְׁוָרִים וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַעֲמֹד בִּפְנֵי גְּמַלִּים וְהָלְכוּ עָלָיו גְּמַלִּים וְנִתְרוֹעֵעַ וְהָלְכוּ עָלָיו שְׁוָרִים וְנָפְלוּ בּוֹ. אִם אֵין הַגְּמַלִּים מְצוּיִין בְּאוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁזֶּה אֹנֶס. וְאִם יָבוֹאוּ שָׁם גְּמַלִּים אֲפִלּוּ לִפְרָקִים הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב:


If [the cover] decayed from within and oxen fell into [the cistern], [the owner] is not liable. [This applies even when] camels frequent this area, and [the owner] is consider negligent with regard to the camels. Nevertheless, since the oxen fell into [the cistern], because [the cover] decayed [it is considered to be a loss beyond the owner's control].11 The same applies in all similar situations.


הִתְלִיעַ מִתּוֹכוֹ וְנָפְלוּ בּוֹ שְׁוָרִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַגְּמַלִּים מְצוּיִין שָׁם תָּמִיד וַהֲרֵי הוּא פּוֹשֵׁעַ לַגְּמַלִּים הוֹאִיל וּמֵחֲמָת שֶׁהִתְלִיעַ נָפְלוּ בּוֹ הַשְּׁוָרִים הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

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 discovers a cistern and covers it, and afterwards uncovers it, the owner12 of the cistern is liable, and the person who [covered and uncovered it] is not liable.13 If, however, he filled [the cistern] with earth and then removed the earth, he [and not the original owner of the cistern] is liable. Since he filled the cistern with earth, the actions of the person who originally [dug the cistern] are considered to have been nullified.14


הַמּוֹצֵא בּוֹר וְכִסָּהוּ וְחָזַר וְגִלָּהוּ בַּעַל הַבּוֹר חַיָּב וְזֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן פָּטוּר. סְתָמוֹ בְּעָפָר וְחָזַר וְהוֹצִיא אֶת כָּל הֶעָפָר זֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן חַיָּב שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁסְּתָמוֹ בְּעָפָר נִסְתַּלְּקוּ מַעֲשֵׂה הָרִאשׁוֹן:


[The following rules apply when] a cistern is owned by two partners. If the first passed by and did not cover it, and then the second passed by and did not cover it, the first is liable15 until he gives his buckets16 to the second [partner]. Once he gives his buckets to the second partner to draw water from it, the first is freed of liability, and the second becomes liable. If the first [partner] covered it, and the second partner passed by and saw it uncovered and left it so, he is liable.17 Until when does the second [partner] bear the sole responsibility of covering it? Until the first [partner] becomes aware18 that it is open and has the opportunity to hire workers to cut down trees and cover it. If any animal dies during this time, the second partner alone is liable. If an animal dies afterwards, both [partners] are liable, for they both were negligent.


בּוֹר שֶׁל שְׁנֵי שֻׁתָּפִין וְעָבַר הָרִאשׁוֹן וְלֹא כִּסָּהוּ הַשֵּׁנִי וְלֹא כִּסָּהוּ הָרִאשׁוֹן חַיָּב עַד שֶׁיִּמְסֹר דִּלְיוֹ לַשֵּׁנִי. וּמִשֶּׁמָּסַר דִּלְיוֹ לַשֵּׁנִי לִדְלוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ נִפְטַר הָרִאשׁוֹן וְנִתְחַיֵּב הַשֵּׁנִי לְכַסּוֹתוֹ. כִּסָּהוּ הָרִאשׁוֹן וּבָא הַשֵּׁנִי וּמְצָאוֹ מְגֻלֶּה וְלֹא כִּסָּהוּ הַשֵּׁנִי חַיָּב. וְעַד אֵימָתַי יִהְיֶה הַשֵּׁנִי לְבַדּוֹ חַיָּב. עַד שֶׁיֵּדַע הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁהַבּוֹר מְגֻלֶּה וּכְדֵי שֶׁיִּשְׂכֹּר פּוֹעֲלִים וְיִכְרֹת אֲרָזִים וִיכַסֶּנּוּ. וְכָל שֶׁיָּמוּת בּוֹ תּוֹךְ זְמַן זֶה הֲרֵי הַשֵּׁנִי לְבַדּוֹ חַיָּב בּוֹ וְכָל שֶׁיָּמוּת בּוֹ אַחַר זְמַן כָּזֶה שְׁנֵיהֶן חַיָּבִין לְשַׁלֵּם שֶׁהֲרֵי שְׁנֵיהֶן פָּשְׁעוּ בּוֹ:


When a person transfers [the responsibility for] his cistern to a watchman, [the watchman] is liable for the damages. If, however, the owner gave it to a deaf mute, a mentally incompetent individual or a minor to watch, the owner is liable. [This applies] even if he left it covered, because it is likely that a cistern will be uncovered, and these individuals are not mentally competent [to know that it must be covered at all times].19


הַמּוֹסֵר בּוֹרוֹ לְשׁוֹמֵר חַיָּב בִּנְזָקָיו. וְאִם מְסָרוֹ לְחֵרֵשׁ שׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָיָה מְכֻסֶּה הֲרֵי הַבְּעָלִים חַיָּבִין שֶׁהַבּוֹר עָשׂוּי לְהִתְגַּלּוֹת וְאֵלּוּ אֵין בָּהֶן דַּעַת:


When a person covers his cistern with buckets belonging to a colleague,20 and then the owner of the buckets comes and takes them, the owner [of the cistern] is liable.21


הַמְכַסֶּה בּוֹרוֹ בְּדִלְיוֹ שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ וּבָא בַּעַל הַדְּלִי וְנָטַל דִּלְיוֹ בַּעַל הַבּוֹר חַיָּב:


[The above laws apply whether] one digs a cistern, a ditch, a cave or a trench. Why does the Torah mention a cistern? [To teach that its depth] must be sufficient to kill. How much is considered sufficient to kill? A depth of ten handbreadths.22 If a cistern was less than ten handbreadths deep23 and an ox or another animal, beast or fowl falls in and dies, [the one responsible for the obstruction] is not liable.24 If the animal is damaged, the one responsible for the obstruction must pay the full extent of the damages.


אֶחָד הַחוֹפֵר בּוֹר אוֹ שִׁיחַ אוֹ מְעָרָה אוֹ חָרִיץ. וְלָמָּה נֶאֱמַר (שמות כא לג) "בּוֹר" עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בּוֹ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית. וְכַמָּה כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עֹמֶק עֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים אֲבָל אִם הָיָה פָּחוֹת מֵעֲשָׂרָה וְנָפַל לְתוֹכוֹ שׁוֹר אוֹ שְׁאָר בְּהֵמָה חַיָּה וְעוֹף וּמֵת פָּטוּר. וְאִם הֻזְּקוּ חַיָּב בַּעַל הַתַּקָּלָה נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם:


If a cistern was nine handbreadths deep, and one of those handbreadths was filled with water, [the owner] is liable [if an animal falls in and dies]. [The rationale is] that one handbreadth with water is considered equivalent to two handbreadths without water.25 If [the cistern] was eight [handbreadths] deep and two handbreadths [were filled with] water, or it was seven [handbreadths] deep and three handbreadths [were filled with] water, and an ox or the like fell in and died, [the owner of the cistern] is not held liable to pay [for the death of the animal]. If [the owner of the animal seized [compensation for his loss from the owner of the cistern's property],26 [the property he seized] is not expropriated from him. [The rationale is] that there is a doubt regarding this issue.27


הָיָה עֹמֶק הַבּוֹר תִּשְׁעָה וּמֵהֶן טֶפַח אֶחָד מַיִם חַיָּב. שֶׁהַטֶּפַח שֶׁל מַיִם חָשׁוּב כְּעֹמֶק שְׁנֵי טְפָחִים בַּיַּבָּשָׁה. הָיָה עָמֹק שְׁמוֹנָה וּמֵהֶן שְׁנֵי טְפָחִים מַיִם אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה עָמְקוֹ שִׁבְעָה וּמֵהֶן שְׁלֹשָׁה טְפָחִים מַיִם וְנָפַל לְתוֹכוֹ שׁוֹר וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ וּמֵת אֵין מְחַיְּבִין אוֹתוֹ לְשַׁלֵּם. וְאִם תָּפַשׂ הַנִּזָּק אֵין מוֹצִיאִין מִיָּדוֹ שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ יֵשׁ בָּהֶן סָפֵק:


When one person digs a cistern ten handbreadths deep, a second person comes and [digs deeper], making it twenty handbreadths deep, and a third person comes and [digs deeper], making it thirty handbreadths deep, they all share in the liability.28 When the first digs even one handbreadth less than ten handbreadths, and another makes it ten handbreadths deep - either by digging another handbreadth deeper or building a rim of a handbreadth at its edge - the latter person [alone] is liable.29 If afterwards he filled up the handbreadth he added or destroyed the rim he built, it is unresolved whether the first person's deed is no longer considered of consequence30 [and therefore, he is not liable,] or whether his actions are still considered significant.31


הַחוֹפֵר בּוֹר עָמֹק עֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים וּבָא אַחֵר וְהִשְׁלִימוֹ לְעֶשְׂרִים וּבָא אַחֵר וְהִשְׁלִימוֹ לִשְׁלֹשִׁים כֻּלָּן חַיָּבִים. חָפַר הָרִאשׁוֹן פָּחוֹת מֵעֲשָׂרָה אֲפִלּוּ טֶפַח וּבָא הָאַחֲרוֹן וְהִשְׁלִימוֹ לַעֲשָׂרָה בֵּין שֶׁחָפַר בּוֹ טֶפַח אוֹ שֶׁהִגְבִּיהַּ בִּנְיָן עַל שְׂפָתוֹ טֶפַח זֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן חַיָּב. סָתַם טֶפַח שֶׁהוֹסִיף אוֹ שֶׁסָּתַר טֶפַח שֶׁבָּנָה הֲרֵי זֶה סָפֵק אִם כְּבָר נִסְתַּלֵּק מַעֲשֶׂה רִאשׁוֹן אוֹ עֲדַיִן לֹא נִסְתַּלֵּק:


[The following rules apply when a person] dug a deep cistern,32 another person came and made it wider, and an ox fell into it and died. If [it is obvious that33 the ox] died because of the air within the cistern, the second person is not liable, for [his act] improved [the quality of] the air.34 If [it is obvious that the ox] died because of the blow [it received], the second person is liable, for [his act] brought closer [the possibility] that this cistern would cause damage.35 Similarly, if the ox fell from the side that the person widened, [and died because of the air of the cistern],36 the second person is held liable despite the fact that [the ox] died from [the cistern's foul] air.37 If [the ox] fell from the side that was dug by the first person, the first person is liable, for the second person improved [the quality of] the air.38


חָפַר הָרִאשׁוֹן בּוֹר עָמֹק וּבָא הָאַחֲרוֹן וְהִרְחִיבוֹ וְנָפַל לְתוֹכוֹ שׁוֹר וּמֵת. אִם מֵחֲמַת הֶבְלוֹ מֵת הָאַחֲרוֹן פָּטוּר שֶׁהֲרֵי מִעֵט הֶבְלוֹ וְאִם מֵחֲמַת חֲבָטוֹ מֵת הָאַחֲרוֹן חַיָּב שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא הִקְרִיב הֶזֵּק בּוֹר זֶה. וְכֵן אִם נָפַל הַשּׁוֹר מֵאוֹתוֹ הַצַּד שֶׁהִרְחִיב הָאַחֲרוֹן הָאַחֲרוֹן חַיָּב שֶׁהֲרֵי הִקְרִיב הֶזֵּק בּוֹר זֶה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמֵּת מִן הַהֶבֶל. וְאִם מִן הַצַּד שֶׁחָפַר הָרִאשׁוֹן נָפַל הָרִאשׁוֹן חַיָּב שֶׁזֶּה הָאַחֲרוֹן מִעֵט הֶבְלוֹ:


The liability that the Torah imposed for [damages caused by falling into] a cistern applies even when the animal died merely because of the [foul] air within the cistern. Needless to say, it applies when the animal dies because of the blow it received.39 If the width of the cistern was the same as its depth, it will not have [foul] air. Thus, if the animal did not receive a blow [when it fell] and yet it died, [the owner of the cistern] is not liable.40 If the depth exceeds its width, it has [foul] air. If an animal dies [after falling in], [the owner] is liable, even though it did not receive a blow from the bottom [of the cistern].41


בּוֹר שֶׁחִיְּבָה עָלָיו הַתּוֹרָה אֲפִלּוּ לֹא מֵתָה הַבְּהֵמָה אֶלָּא מֵהֶבְלוֹ וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם מֵתָה מֵחֲבָטוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ אִם הָיָה עֹמֶק הַבּוֹר כְּרָחְבּוֹ אֵין לוֹ הֶבֶל. וְאִם לֹא נֶחְבְּטָה בּוֹ הַבְּהֵמָה וּמֵתָה פָּטוּר. הָיָה עָמְקוֹ יֶתֶר עַל רָחְבּוֹ יֵשׁ לוֹ הֶבֶל וְאִם מֵתָה בּוֹ הַבְּהֵמָה חַיָּב אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא נֶחְבְּטָה בְּקַרְקָעִיתָהּ:


[The following rules apply when] a person erects a high mound in the public domain, and an animal receives a blow from it and dies.42 If [the mound] was ten handbreadths high, he is liable to pay [for the damages]. If it was less than ten handbreadths high, he is not liable if the animal dies. If, however, an animal is merely injured, he is liable for the full extent of the damages. Even if a mound is of minimal height, or one digs [a pit of] minimal depth, [and an animal is injured, one is liable]. For it is a frequent occurrence for injuries to be caused by a mound or a pit of minimal height or depth. For [an animal] to die because of such a mound or pit is not a frequent occurrence; it is considered to be an event beyond one's control.43


עָשָׂה תֵּל גָּבוֹהַּ בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְנֶחְבְּטָה בּוֹ הַבְּהֵמָה וּמֵתָה. אִם הָיָה גָּבוֹהַּ עֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם. וְאִם הָיָה פָּחוֹת מֵעֲשָׂרָה פָּטוּר עַל מִיתַת הַבְּהֵמָה. אֲבָל אִם הֻזְּקָה בִּלְבַד חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם. וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּתֵל גָּבוֹהַּ כָּל שֶׁהוּא אוֹ בַּחֲפִירָה כָּל שֶׁהִיא. שֶׁהַנֵּזֶק בְּכָל שֶׁהוּא דָּבָר מָצוּי וְיָדוּעַ וְאֵין הַמִּיתָה בְּכָל שֶׁהוּא מְצוּיָה וַהֲרֵי הוּא כְּמוֹ אֹנֶס:


Similarly, a person is not liable for the death of an animal that [fell] into a cistern or that received a blow from a mound unless the animal was small, a deaf mute or mentally incompetent,44 or it was blind, or it fell at night.45 If, however, the animal was mentally competent, and it fell into [the cistern] during the day, [the owner of the cistern] is not liable. This is considered like an event beyond a person's control. For it is the ordinary practice for an animal to see where it is going and to avoid obstacles. Similarly, if a human fell into the pit and died, the owner is not liable.46 This applies even if he was blind or fell at night,47 and regardless of whether he was a free man or a servant. If a mentally competent human or animal suffered injury because of [the cistern], [the owner] is liable for the full extent of the damages,48 as explained [in the previous halachah].49


וְכֵן אֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַל מִיתַת הַבְּהֵמָה בְּבוֹר אוֹ עַל חֲבִיטָתָהּ בְּתֵל. אֶלָּא אִם הָיִתָה הַבְּהֵמָה קְטַנָּה אוֹ חֵרֶשֶׁת אוֹ שׁוֹטָה אוֹ סוּמָא אוֹ שֶׁנָּפְלָה בַּלַּיְלָה. אֲבָל אִם הָיְתָה פִּקַּחַת וְנָפְלָה בַּיּוֹם וּמֵתָה פָּטוּר שֶׁזֶּה כְּמוֹ אֹנֶס מִפְּנֵי שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ הַבְּהֵמָה לִרְאוֹת וְלָסוּר מִן הַמִּכְשׁוֹלוֹת. וְכֵן אִם נָפַל לְתוֹכוֹ אָדָם וּמֵת אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה סוּמָא אוֹ שֶׁנָּפַל בַּלַּיְלָה בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה בֶּן חוֹרִין אוֹ עֶבֶד הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְאִם הֻזַּק בּוֹ הָאָדָם אוֹ הַבְּהֵמָה הַפִּקַּחַת חַיָּב נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:


If an ox that had been consecrated as a sacrificial offering and then disqualified50 fell into [the cistern] and died, the owner is not liable.51 [This law is derived as follows. Exodus 21:34] states: "The dead body will belong to [its owner]." [The liability for the animal's death stated in the verse applies only] when the dead body belongs to [the owner].52 This excludes the case at hand, for it is forbidden to benefit from [the body of this animal], and it must be buried.53


נָפַל לְתוֹכוֹ שׁוֹר פְּסוּלֵי הַמֻּקְדָּשִׁין וּמֵת הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא לד) "וְהַמֵּת יִהְיֶה לּוֹ" מִי שֶׁהַמֵּת שֶׁלּוֹ יָצָא זֶה שֶׁהוּא אָסוּר בַּהֲנָאָה וְדִינוֹ שֶׁיִּקָּבֵר:


[The following laws apply when] a person was digging a cistern and the noise of the digging caused an animal to fall into the pit and die. If [the animal] fell forwards, [the owner of the cistern] is liable. If it fell backwards - i.e., it was startled [by the sound] and retreated and then fell - [the owner] is not liable. [The latter law is derived as follows. Exodus 21:33 states: "When an ox...] falls," [implied is that for the person to be liable], the ox must fall in an ordinary manner.54 If [the animal] fell forward outside the cistern because of the sound of the digging and died, the court does not hold the owner of the cistern liable.55 If the person [whose ox died] seizes property [belonging to the owner of the cistern], it is not expropriated from him. If [the animal] fell backward outside the cistern and died or was injured, the owner of the cistern is not liable.


הָיָה חוֹפֵר בַּבּוֹר וְנָפְלָה הַבְּהֵמָה בְּתוֹךְ הַבּוֹר מִקּוֹל הַחֲפִירָה וּמֵתָה. אִם נָפְלָה מִלְּפָנֶיהָ חַיָּב. מֵאַחֲרֶיהָ כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּבְעֲתָה וְחָזְרָה עַל עֲקֵבָהּ לְאָחוֹר וְנָפְלָה וּמֵתָה פָּטוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא לג) "וְנָפַל" עַד שֶׁיִּפּל דֶּרֶךְ נְפִילָה. נָפְלָה לְפָנֶיהָ מִקּוֹל הַחֲפִירָה חוּץ לַבּוֹר וּמֵתָה אֵין בֵּית דִּין מְחַיְּבִין אוֹתוֹ. וְאִם תָּפַשׂ הַנִּזָּק אֵין מוֹצִיאִין מִיָּדוֹ. וְאִם נָפְלָה לַאֲחוֹרֶיהָ חוּץ לַבּוֹר וּמֵתָה אוֹ הֻזְּקָה בַּעַל הַבּוֹר פָּטוּר:


[The following rules apply when] an ox pushes another animal into a cistern and it dies. If [the ox] is mu'ad,56 the owner of the cistern is required to pay half [the damages], and the owner of the ox the [other] half.57 If [the ox] is tam, the owner of the ox must pay one-fourth [of the damages] from the body of the ox,58 while the owner of the cistern must pay three-fourths of the damage from his most choice property. For the owner of the dead animal may say to the owner of the cistern: "You owe me for the depreciation in value of this dead animal. Although it was a mature animal and mentally competent, it is as if it fell at night.59 I will collect whatever I can from the owner of the ox. You are liable to pay me the remainder."60


שׁוֹר שֶׁדָּחַף בְּהֵמָה לְתוֹךְ הַבּוֹר וּמֵתָה. אִם מוּעָד הוּא בַּעַל הַבּוֹר מְשַׁלֵּם מֶחֱצָה וּבַעַל הַשּׁוֹר מֶחֱצָה. וְאִם תָּם הוּא בַּעַל הַשּׁוֹר מְשַׁלֵּם רְבִיעַ מִגּוּפוֹ וּבַעַל הַבּוֹר מְשַׁלֵּם שְׁלֹשָׁה חֲלָקִים מִן הַיָּפֶה שֶׁבִּנְכָסָיו. שֶׁבַּעַל הַנְּבֵלָה אוֹמֵר לְבַעַל הַבּוֹר פְּחַת נְבֵלָה זוֹ יֵשׁ לִי אֶצְלְךָ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא גְּדוֹלָה וּפִקַּחַת כֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּדְחֲפָה הֲרֵי זוֹ כְּמִי שֶׁנָּפְלָה בַּלַּיְלָה כָּל שֶׁאֲנִי יָכוֹל לְהוֹצִיא מִבַּעַל הַשּׁוֹר אֲנִי מוֹצִיא וְהַשְּׁאָר אַתָּה חַיָּב לְשַׁלְּמוֹ:


Similarly, if a person places a stone at the edge of a cistern, and an ox stumbles over it and falls into the cistern and dies, the person who placed the stone there must pay [half the damages],61 and the owner of the cistern must pay the [other] half.


וְכֵן הַמַּנִּיחַ אֶבֶן עַל פִּי הַבּוֹר וּבָא הַשּׁוֹר וְנִתְקַל בָּהּ וְנָפַל לַבּוֹר וּמֵת. הַמַּנִּיחַ אֶת הָאֶבֶן מְשַׁלֵּם מֶחֱצָה וּבַעַל הַבּוֹר מֶחֱצָה:


Similarly,62 [the following laws apply when] an ordinary ox and an ox that was consecrated as a sacrifice and then disqualified gored another ox together. If the ordinary ox is a tam, [its owner] should pay half the damages. If it is mu'ad, [its owner] must pay the entire damages. [The entire burden falls on this person,] because the owner of the ox that suffered the damage will say to him: "I will collect all that I can from the other ox, and you are liable for the remainder. In this instance, since the other ox is consecrated and therefore [its owner is] not held liable,63 you must pay me the entire amount."


וְכֵן שׁוֹר שֶׁל הֶדְיוֹט וְשֶׁל פְּסוּלֵי הַמֻּקְדָּשִׁין שֶׁנָּגְחוּ כְּאֶחָד. אִם תָּם הוּא זֶה שֶׁל הֶדְיוֹט מְשַׁלֵּם חֲצִי נֵזֶק וְאִם מוּעָד נֵזֶק שָׁלֵם. שֶׁהַנִּזָק אוֹמֵר לוֹ כָּל שֶׁאוּכַל לְהוֹצִיא מִזֶּה אוֹצִיא וְהַשְּׁאָר מִמְּךָ וְזֶה הוֹאִיל וְהֶקְדֵּשׁ הוּא וּפָטוּר אַתָּה תְשַׁלֵּם לִי הַכּל:


When a person was digging a cistern in the public domain, and an ox fell upon him and killed him, the owner of the ox is not liable.64 If the ox dies, the owner of the ox may collect the value of his ox from the heirs of the owner of the cistern.65


מִי שֶׁהָיָה חוֹפֵר בּוֹר בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים וְנָפַל עָלָיו שׁוֹר וַהֲרָגוֹ. בַּעַל הַשּׁוֹר פָּטוּר. וְאִם מֵת הַשּׁוֹר נוֹטֵל בַּעַל הַשּׁוֹר דְּמֵי שׁוֹרוֹ מִיּוֹרְשֵׁי בַּעַל הַבּוֹר: