Previous Folio / Baba Kamma Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Kamma
There was a case where a goat, noticing turnips upon the top of a cask, climbed up there and consumed the turnips and broke the jar. — Raba thereupon ordered full payment both for the turnips and for the jar; the reason being that since it was usual with it to consume turnips it was also usual to climb up [for them].
Ilfa stated: In the case of an animal on public ground stretching out its neck and consuming food that had been placed upon the back of another animal, there would be liability to pay; the reason being that the back of the other animal would be counted as the plaintiff's premises. May we say that the following teaching supports his view: 'In the case of a plaintiff who had a bundle [of grain] hanging over his back and [somebody else's animal] stretched out its neck and consumed [the grain] out of it, there would be liability to pay'? — No, just as Raba elsewhere referred to a case where the animal was jumping [an act which being quite unusual would be subject to the law of Horn1], so also this teaching might perhaps similarly deal with a case of jumping.
With reference to what was Raba's statement made? — [It was made] with reference to the following statement of R. Oshaia: In the case of an animal on public ground going along and consuming, there would be exemption, but if it was standing and consuming there would be liability to pay. Why this difference? If in the case of walking [there is exemption, since] it is usual with animal to do so, is it not also in the case of standing usual with it to do so? — [It was on this question that] Raba said: 'Standing' here implies jumping [which being unusual was therefore subject in the law of Horn].1
R. Zera asked: [In the case of a sheaf that was] rolling about, what would he the law? (In what circumstances? — When, e.g., grain had originally been placed in the plaintiff's premises, but was rolled thence into public ground [by the animal, which consumed the grain while standing on public ground], what would then be the law?)2 — Come and hear that which R. Hiyya taught: 'In the case of a bag of food lying partly inside and partly outside [of the plaintiff's premises], if the animal consumed inside, there would be liability [to pay], but if it consumed outside there would be exemption.' Now, did not this teaching refer to a case where the bag was being continually rolled?3 — No; read '… which the animal consumed, for the part which had originally been lying inside4 there would be liability but for the part that had always been outside there would be exemption.' You might alternatively say that R. Hiyya referred to a bag containing long stalks of grass.5
ANIMAL IS MUA'D TO CONSUME BOTH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. BUT IF IT HAS DESTROYED CLOTHES OR UTENSILS, [ONLY] HALF DAMAGES WILL BE PAID. THIS RULING APPLIES ONLY TO DAMAGE DONE ON THE PLAINTIFF'S PREMISES, BUT IF IT IS DONE ON PUBLIC GROUND THERE WOULD BE EXEMPTION. To what ruling does the last clause refer? — Rab said: [It refers] to all the cases [dealt with in the Mishnah, even to the destruction of clothes and utensils];6 the reason being that whenever the plaintiff himself acted unlawfully,7 the defendant, though guilty of misconduct, could be under no liability to pay. Samuel on the other hand said: It refers only to the ruling regarding [the consumption of] fruits and vegetables,8 whereas in the case of clothes and utensils9 there would be liability [even when the damage was done on public ground]. [The same difference of opinion is found between Resh Lakish and R. Johanan, for] Resh Lakish said: [It refers] to all the cases [even to the destruction of clothes and utensils].10 In this Resh Lakish was following a view expressed by him in another connection, where he stated:11 In the case of two cows on public ground, one lying down and the other walking about, if the one that was walking kicked the one that was lying there would be exemption [since the latter too misconducted itself by laying itself down on public ground], whereas if the one that was lying kicked the one that was walking there would be liability to pay. R. Johanan on the other hand said: The ruling in the Mishnah refers only to the case of fruits and vegetables, whereas in the case of clothes and utensils there would be liability [even when the damage was done on public ground]. Might it thus be inferred that R. Johanan was also against the view expressed by Resh Lakish even in the case of the two cows? — No; [in that case] he could indeed have been in full agreement with him; for while in the case of clothes [and utensils] it might be customary with people to place [their] garments [on public ground] whilst having a rest near by, [in the case of the cows] it is not usual [for an animal to lie down on public ground].12
WHERE, HOWEVER, THE ANIMAL HAS DERIVED SOME BENEFIT [FROM THE DAMAGE DONE BY IT]. PAYMENT WILL [IN ANY CASE] BE MADE TO THE EXTENT OF THE BENEFIT. How [could the extent of the benefit be] calculated? — Rabbah said: [It must not exceed] the value of straw [i.e. the coarsest possible food for animals]. But Raba said: The value of barley13 on the cheapest scale [i.e. two-thirds of the usual price]. There is a Baraitha in agreement with Rabbah, and there is another Baraitha in agreement with Raba. There is a Baraitha in agreement with Rabbah [viz.]: R. Simeon b. Yohai said: The payment [to the extent of the benefit] would not be more than the value of straw.14 There is a Baraitha in agreement with Raba [viz.]: When the animal derived some benefit [from the damage done by it], payment would [in any case] be made to the extent of the benefit. That is to say, in the case of [an animal] having consumed [on public ground] one kab15 or two kabs [of barley], no order would be given to pay the full value of the barley [that was consumed], but it would be estimated how much might an owner be willing to spend to let his animal have that particular food [which was consumed] supposing it was good for it, though in practice he was never accustomed to feed it thus. It would therefore follow that in the case of [an animal] having consumed wheat or any other food unwholesome for it, there could be no liability at all.
R. Hisda said to Rami b. Hama: You were not yesterday with us in the House of Study16 where there were discussed some specially interesting matters. The other thereupon asked him: What were the specially interesting matters? He answered: [The discussion was whether] one who occupied his neighbour's premises unbeknown to him would have to pay rent17 or not. But under what circumstances? It could hardly be supposed that the premises were not for hire,18 and he [the one who occupied them] was similarly a man who was not in the habit of hiring any,19 for [what liability could there be attached to a case where] the defendant derived no benefit and the plaintiff sustained no loss? If on the other hand the premises were for hire and he was a man whose wont it was to hire premises, [why should no liability be attached since] the defendant derived a benefit and the plaintiff sustained a loss? — No; the problem arises in a case where the premises were not for hire, but his wont was to hire premises. What therefore should be the law? Is the occupier entitled to plead [against the other party]: 'What loss have I caused to you [since your premises were in any case not for hire]?'
Baba Kamma 20b
Or might the other party retort: 'Since you have derived a benefit [as otherwise you would have had to hire premises], you must pay rent accordingly'? Rami b. Hama thereupon said to R. Hisda: 'The solution to the problem is contained in a Mishnah.' — 'In what Mishnah?' He answered him: 'When you will first have performed for me some service.'1 Thereupon he, R. Hisda, carefully lifted up his2 scarf and folded it. Then Rami b. Hama said to him: [The Mishnah is:] WHERE, HOWEVER, THE ANIMAL HAS DERIVED SOME BENEFIT [FROM THE DAMAGE DONE BY IT,] PAYMENT WILL [IN ANY CASE] BE MADE TO THE EXTENT OF THE BENEFIT. Said Raba: How much worry and anxiety is a person [such as Rami b. Hama] spared whom the Master [of all] helps! For though the problem [before us] is not at all analogous to the case dealt with in the Mishnah, R. Hisda accepted the solution suggested by Rami b. Hama. [The difference is as follows:] In the case of the Mishnah the defendant derived a benefit and the plaintiff sustained a loss, whereas in the problem before us the defendant derived a benefit but the plaintiff sustained no loss. Rami b. Hama was, however, of the opinion that generally speaking fruits left on public ground have been [more or less] abandoned by their owner [who could thus not regard the animal that consumed them there as having exclusively caused him the loss he sustained, and the analogy therefore was good].
Come and hear: 'In the case of a plaintiff who [by his fields] has encircled the defendant's field on three sides, and who has made a fence on the one side as well as on the second and third sides [so that the defendant is enjoying the benefit of the fences], no payment can be enforced from the defendant [since on the fourth side his field is still open wide to the world and the benefit he derives is thus incomplete].'3 Should, however, the plaintiff make a fence also on the fourth side, the defendant would [no doubt] have to share the whole outlay of the fences. Now, could it not he deduced from this that wherever a defendant has derived benefit, though the plaintiff has thereby sustained no loss,4 there is liability to pay [for the benefit derived]? — That case is altogether different, as the plaintiff may there argue against the defendant saying: It is you that [by having your field in the middle of my fields] have caused me to erect additional fences5 [and incur additional expense].
Come and hear: [In the same case] R. Jose said: [It is only] if the defendant [subsequently] of his own accord makes a fence on the fourth side that there would devolve upon him, a liability to pay his share [also] in the existing fences [made by the plaintiff].6 The liability thus applies only when the defendant fences [the fourth side], but were the plaintiff to fence [the fourth side too] there would be no liability [whatsoever upon the defendant]. Now, could it not be deduced from this that in a case where, though the defendant has derived benefit, the plaintiff has [thereby] sustained no loss, there is no liability to pay? — That ruling again is based on a different principle, since the defendant may argue against the plaintiff saying: 'For my purposes a partition of thorns of the value of zuz7 would have been quite sufficient.'
Come and hear: '[A structure consisting of] a lower storey and an upper storey, belonging respectively to two persons, has collapsed. The owner of the upper storey thereupon asks the owner of the lower storey to rebuild the ground floor, but the latter does not agree to do so. The owner of the upper storey is then entitled to build the lower storey and to occupy it until the owner of the ground floor refunds the outlay.'8 Now, seeing that the whole outlay will have to be refunded by the owner of the lower storey, it is evident that no rent may be deducted [for the occupation of the lower storey]. Could it thus not be inferred from this ruling that in a case where, though the defendant has derived a benefit, the plaintiff has [thereby] sustained no loss,9 there is no liability to pay? — That ruling is based on a different principle as the lower storey is by law accessory to the upper storey.10
Come and hear: [In the same case] R. Judah said: Even this one who occupies another man's premises without an agreement with him must nevertheless pay him rent.11 Is not this ruling a proof that in a case where the defendant has derived benefit, though the plaintiff has [thereby] sustained no loss, there is full liability to pay? — That ruling is based on a different principle, since we have to reckon there with the blackening of the walls [in the case of newly built premises, the plaintiff thus sustaining an actual loss].
The problem was communicated to R. Ammi and his answer was: 'What harm has the defendant done to the other party? What loss has he caused him to suffer? And finally what indeed is the damage that he has done to him?' R. Hiyya b. Abba, however, said: 'We have to consider the matter very carefully.' When the problem was afterwards again laid before R. Hiyya b. Abba he replied: 'Why do you keep on sending the problem to me? If I had found the solution, would I not have forwarded it to you?'
It was stated: R. Kahana quoting R. Johanan said: [In the case of the above problem] there would be no legal obligation to pay rent; but R. Abbahu similarly quoting R. Johanan said: There would be a legal obligation to pay rent. R. Papa thereupon said: The view expressed by R. Abbahu [on behalf of R. Johanan] was not stated explicitly [by R. Johanan] but was only arrived at by inference. For we learnt: He who misappropriates a stone or a beam belonging to the Temple Treasury12 does not render himself subject to the law of Sacrilege.13 But if he delivers it to his neighbour, he is subject to the law of Sacrilege,14 whereas his neighbour is not subject to the law of Sacrilege.15 So also when he builds it into his house he is not subject to the law of Sacrilege until he actually occupies that house for such a period that the benefit derived from that stone or that beam would amount to the value of a perutah.16 And Samuel thereupon said that the last ruling referred to a case where the stone or the beam was [not fixed into the actual structure but] left loose on the roof.17 Now, R. Abbahu sitting in the presence of R. Johanan said in the name of Samuel that this ruling proved that he who occupied his neighbour's premises without an agreement with him would have to pay him rent.18 And he [R. Johanan] kept silent. [R. Abbahu] imagined that since he [R. Johanan] remained silent, he thus acknowledged his agreement with this inference. But in fact this was not so. He [R. Johanan] paid no regard to this view on account of his acceptance of an argument which was advanced [later] by Rabbah; for Rabbah19 said: The conversion of sacred property even without [the] knowledge [of the Temple Treasury] is [subject20 to the law of Sacrilege]21
- To Next Folio -