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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Kamma
shavings and a light, in which case it was certainly his act that was the immediate cause.1
BUT IF HE SENT [IT] THROUGH A NORMAL PERSON, THE NORMAL PERSON WOULD BE LIABLE etc. IF ANOTHER PERSON CAME ALONG AND [LIBBAH] FANNED IT etc. R. Nahman b. Isaac said: He who reads in the [original] text libbah2 is not mistaken; so also he who reads in the text nibbah3 is similarly not mistaken.4 He who has in the text libbah2 is not mistaken, since we find [in Scripture] be-labbath esh5 [in a flame of fire], and so also he who has in the text nibbah3 is not mistaken, as we find, I create nib [the movement of] the lips.6
IF IT WAS THE WIND THAT FANNED IT, ALL WOULD BE EXEMPT. Our Rabbis taught: Where he fanned it [along with] the wind which also fanned it, if there was enough force in his blowing to set the fire ablaze he would be liable, but if not he would be exempt. But why should he not be liable, as in the case of one winnowing [on Sabbath, who is liable] though the wind was helping him?7 — Abaye thereupon said: We are dealing here with a case where e.g., he blew it up in one direction and the wind blew it up in a different direction.8 Raba said: [The case is one] where e.g., he started to blow it up when the wind was only normal, [and would have been unable to set it ablaze], but there [suddenly] came on an unusual wind which made it blaze up. R. Zera said: [The case is one] where e.g., he merely increased the heat by breathing heavily on it.9 R. Ashi said: When we say that there is liability for winnowing where the wind is helping, this applies to Sabbath where the Torah prohibited any work with a definite object,10 whereas here [regarding damage] such an act could be considered merely as a secondary cause, and a mere secondary cause in the case of damage carries no liability.
MISHNAH. IF HE ALLOWED FIRE TO ESCAPE AND IT BURNT WOOD, STONES OR [EVEN] EARTH, HE WOULD BE LIABLE, AS IT SAYS: IF FIRE BREAK OUT AND CATCH IN THORNS SO THAT THE STACKS OF CORN, OR THE STANDING CORN, OR THE FIELD BE CONSUMED THEREWITH: HE THAT KINDLED THE FIRE SHALL SURELY MAKE RESTITUTION.11
GEMARA. Raba said: Why was it necessary for the Divine Law to mention [both] 'thorns', 'stacks', 'standing corn' and 'field'? They are all necessary. For if the Divine Law had mentioned [only] 'thorns', I might have said that it was only in the case of thorns that the Divine Law imposed liability because fire is found often among them and carelessness in regard to them is frequent,12 whereas in the case of 'stacks',13 which are not often on fire and in respect of which negligence is not usual, I might have held that there is no liability. If [again] the Divine Law had mentioned [only] 'stacks', I might have said that it was only in the case of 'stacks' that the Divine Law imposed liability as the loss involved there was considerable, whereas in the case of 'thorns' where the loss involved was slight I might have thought there was no liability. But why was standing corn' necessary [to be mentioned]? [To teach that] just as 'standing corn' is in an open place, so is everything [which is] in an open space [subject to the same law].14 But according to R. Judah who imposes15 liability also for concealed articles damaged by fire, why had 'standing corn' [to be mentioned]? — To include anything possessing stature.15 Whence then did the [other] Rabbis include anything possessing stature?16 — They derived this from [the word] 'or' [placed before] 'the standing corn'.17 And R. Judah? — He needed [the word] 'or' as a disjunctive.17 Whence then did the [other] Rabbis derive the disjunction? — They derived it from [the word] 'or' [placed before] 'the field'. And R. Judah? — He held that because the Divine Law inserted 'or' [before] 'the standing corn' 'it also inserted 'or' [before] 'the field'. But why was 'field' needed [to be inserted]? — To include [the case of] Fire lapping his neighbour's ploughed field, and grazing his stones.18 But why did the Divine Law not say only 'field',19 in which case the others would not have been necessary? They were still necessary. For if the Divine Law had said 'field' only, I might have said that anything in the field would come under the same law, but not any other thing.20 It was therefore indicated to us [that this is not so].
R. Samuel b. Nahmani stated21 that R. Johanan said: Calamity comes upon the world only when there are wicked persons in the world, and it always begins with the righteous, as it says: If fire break out and catch in thorns.22 When does fire break out? Only when thorns are found nearby. It always begins, however, with the righteous, as it says: so that the stack of corn was consumed:23 It does not say 'and it would consume the stack of corn', but 'that the stack of corn was consumed' which means that the 'stack of corn' had already been consumed.
R. Joseph learnt: What is the meaning of the verse, And none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning?24 Once permission has been granted to the Destroyer, he does not distinguish between righteous and wicked. Moreover, he even begins with the righteous at the very outset, as it says:25 And I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked.26 R. Joseph wept at this, saying: So much are they27 compared to nothing!28 But Abaye [consoling him,] said: This is for their advantage, as it is written, That the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.29
Rab Judah stated that Rab said:
Baba Kamma 60b
A man should always enter [a town] by daytime and leave by daytime, as it say's, And none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.1
Our Rabbis taught: When there is an epidemic in the town keep your feet inside [the house], as it says, And none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning,1 and it further says, Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers and shut thy doors about thee;2 and it is again said: The sword without, the terror within shall destroy.3 Why these further citations? — Lest you might think that the advice given above4 refers only to the night, but not to the day. Therefore, come and hear: Come, my people, enter thou into thy chamber, and shut thy doors about thee.5 And should you say that these apprehensions apply only where there is no terror inside,6 whereas where there is terror inside6 it is much better to go out and sit among people in one company, again come and hear: The sword without, the terror within shall destroy,3 implying that [even where] the terror is 'within'6 the 'sword'7 will destroy [more] without. In the time of an epidemic Raba used to keep the windows shut, as it is written, For death is come up into our windows.8
Our Rabbis taught: When there is a famine in town, withdraw your feet,9 as stated, And there was a famine in the land; and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there;10 and it is further said: If we say: We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city and we shall die there.11 Why the additional citation? — Since you might think that this advice12 applies only where there is no danger to life [in the new settlement], whereas where there is a danger to life [in the new place] this should not be undertaken, come and hear: Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Arameans; if they save us alive, we shall live.13
Our Rabbis taught: When there is an epidemic in a town, one should not walk in the middle of the road, as the Angel of Death walks then in the middle of the road, for since permission has been granted him, he stalks along openly. But when there is peace in the town, one should not walk at the sides of the road, for since [the Angel of Death] has no permission he slinks along in hiding.
Our Rabbis taught: When there is an epidemic in a town nobody should enter the House of Worship14 alone, as the Angel of Death keeps there his implements. This, however, is the case only where no pupils are being taught there15 or where ten [males] do not pray there [together].
Our Rabbis taught: When dogs howl, [this is a sign that] the Angel of Death has come to a town. But when dogs frolic, [this is a sign that] Elijah the prophet has come to a town. This is so, however, only if there is no female among them.
When R. Ammi and R. Assi were sitting before R. Isaac the Smith, one of them said to him: 'Will the Master please tell us some legal points?' while the other said: 'Will the Master please give us some homiletical instruction?' When he commenced a homiletical discourse he was prevented by the one, and when he commenced a legal discourse he was prevented by the other. He therefore said to them: I will tell you a parable: To what is this like? To a man who has had two wives, one young and one old. The young one used to pluck out his white hair, whereas the old one used to pluck out his black hair. He thus finally remained bald on both sides. He further said to them: I will accordingly tell you something which will be equally interesting to both of you:16 If fire break out and catch in thorns; 'break out' implies 'of itself'. He that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution. The Holy One, blessed be He, said: It is incumbent upon me to make restitution for the fire which I kindled. It was I who kindled a fire in Zion as it says, And He hath kindled a fire in Zion which hath devoured the foundations thereof,17 and it is I who will one day build it anew by fire, as it says, For I, [saith the Lord] will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her.18 On the legal side, the verse commences with damage done by chattel,19 and concludes with damage done by the person,20 [in order] to show that Fire implies also human agency.21
Scripture says:22 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me water to drink of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate. And the three mighty men broke through the host of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate etc. What was his difficulty?23 — Raba stated that R. Nahman had said: His difficulty was regarding concealed articles damaged by fire24 — whether the right ruling was that of R. Judah25 or of the Rabbis;26 and they gave him the solution, whatever it was. R. Huna, however, said: [The problem was this:] There were there27 stacks of barley which belonged to Israelites but in which Philistines had hidden themselves, and what he asked was whether it was permissible to rescue oneself through the destruction of another's property.28 The answer they despatched to him was: [Generally speaking] it is forbidden to rescue oneself through the destruction of another's property29 you however are King and a king may break [through fields belonging to private persons] to make a way [for his army], and nobody is entitled to prevent him [from doing so].30 But [some] Rabbis, or, as [also] read, Rabbah b. Mari, said: There were there31 [both] stacks of barley belonging to Israelites and stacks of lentils belonging to the Philistines.32 The problem on which instruction was needed was whether it would be permissible to take the stacks of barley that belonged to the Israelites and put them before the beasts [in the battle field], on condition of [subsequently] paying for them with the stacks of lentils that belonged to the Philistines. [The reply] they despatched to him [was]: If the wicked restore the pledge, give again the robbery,33 [implying that] even where the robber [subsequently] pays for the 'robbery', he still remains 'wicked'. You, however, are King and a king may break through [fields of private owners] making thus a way [for his army], and nobody is entitled to prevent him [from doing so]. If we accept the view that he wanted to exchange,34 we can quite understand how in one verse it is written, Where was a plot of ground full of lentils,35 and in another verse it is written, Where was a plot of ground full of barley.36 If we, however, take the view that he wanted to burn them37 down, what need was there to have these two verses?38 — He, however, might say to you that there were also there stacks of lentils which belonged to Israelites and in which Philistines were hidden.39 Now on the view that he wanted to burn them37 down, we can quite understand why it is written, But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it.40 But according to the view that he wanted to exchange, what would be the meaning of and he defended it?41 — That he did not allow them to exchange. According to [these] two views, we can quite understand why there are two verses.
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