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Grab the Bull by the Horns

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Grab the Bull by the Horns

According to Jewish tort law, the first three times an ox gores another animal, the owner pays only half damages, for he cannot be expected to foresee and control the ox’s sudden rage. After three times, the owner must pay full damages, for the animal’s violent nature has been established and the owner should have taken proper precautions. Maimonides rules, however, that if a violent ox is sold or given as a gift to a new owner, the ox is given a fresh clean slate.
Lubavitcher Rebbe
Grab the Bull by the Horns
Disc 110, Program 440

Event Date: 17 Tishrei 5748 - October 10, 1987

According to Jewish tort law, the first three times an ox gores another animal, the owner pays only half damages, for he cannot be expected to foresee and control the ox’s sudden rage. After three times, the owner must pay full damages, for the animal’s violent nature has been established and the owner should have taken proper precautions. Maimonides rules, however, that if a violent ox is sold or given as a gift to a new owner, the ox is given a fresh clean slate.

The explanation: An animal responds to the way it is treated by its owner. The ox may have behaved violently under the first owner due to the way it was cared for or corralled. Under the new owner, however, the animal’s behavior is yet to be determined.

The life lesson: If even an animal is given a clean slate due to the new environment and circumstances in its life, how much more so does a person have the ability, each and every new day, to “tame” the past, leave it behind, and march forth as a new person into the first day of the rest of his or her life.

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