David and Benjy were in deep discussion over the photography session they had just finished when they reached David's house. "David," Benjy asked, "I have to go and meet my mother now at the dentist. I was wondering if you could possibly take care of my camera bag, and I'll pick it up on my way home. It's just a bit heavy, and I would rather not take it with me."

David nodded. "Gosh, it is heavy," he said as he took the bag from his friend. "What is in here?"

Benjy shrugged. "Nothing much. It's just all the photography paraphernalia. You know, camera, lenses, flash and so on, and some books about photography."

"Oh, Benjy," David called out as his friend was leaving. "I'll be coming to your house later this evening to do that revision for the math test, so I'll bring it with me then."

Later that evening, Benjy, David and Saul were sprawled on the living room floor in Benjy's house. Math revision sheets were spread liberally on the floor, but in fact Benjy and David were describing their photography course to Saul. Benjy reached for the camera bag which David had brought to his home, as arranged. When he opened the bag, however, he gasped. His face went pale. "What's the matter, Benjy?" David asked.

"My flash is broken!" Benjy said. "It's smashed. I used it earlier today, and it was fine. You've had it the whole afternoon since we left school." He turned to face David and the tension in the room became tangible.

Thoughts were flying through David's head. He really didn't know how the flash got broken. He had taken the camera into his house and left it in the coat cupboard until he had left the house to meet Benjy and Saul. Stuttering, he told this to Benjy, who looked slightly disbelieving. The truth was that the thought had crossed David's mind to look at the camera in the bag, because it was far more elaborate than his own, just to have a look at all the extra bits it had. But he had resisted the temptation. Now it seemed as though he was going to be responsible for damages that really weren't his fault.

"How's the revision going, guys?" Benjy's father poked his head around the door. Pale-faced, Benjy and David told him what had happened. Mr. Green came into the room and took the broken flash from his son. He shook his head, "Well, boys, I think we can presume everyone here is telling the truth. Right?" He raised an eyebrow at the boys, who both nodded.

"This is very interesting because I have just come back from a class on this week's Torah portion which was discussing exactly this. There are four kinds of guardians—people who have the property of others under their responsibility. There is the unpaid guardian, the paid guardian, the hirer and the borrower. The Torah discusses this exact situation: what if something bad happens to the property?" All the boys were listening intently.

"Well, the borrower pays for anything that goes wrong."

"I didn't borrow it," said David. "Benjy gave the bag to me to look after it for him."

"That's true," said Benjy.

"Then there is the unpaid guardian," continued Benjy's father. "He only pays if he was really negligent, like leaving the bag in the road and a car ran over it."

"Well," said Benjy, "I know he didn't do that. David was an unpaid guardian and I agree he didn't do anything wrong with the bag."

"I think you're right," said his father, "which means he isn't responsible for the damages. The good news is that I think I may have another flash to replace this one. In fact, it's a better model." Both boys looked relieved, but Mr. Green continued with a make-believe frown. "However, good results on the math test are a must if photography is going to continue!" The boys smiled happily and quickly picked up their revision sheets.