Torah Tidbits

24 April 2014 / 24 Nisan 5774
Issue 985
Issue 985- Shabbat Parshat Sh’mot
January 12, 2012

Jewish Law

Lesson # 578 Pit Damage (cont.)

Previously it was stated that we would discuss the extent of liability of the digger of the pit.
Reuven, the digger of the pit is liable if the pit causes the death of an animal during any time of the day or night, if the animal that falls into the pit is young, or if a deaf-mute, witless or blind person falls into the pit. Reuven is also liable if a normal grown animal falls into the pit at night. Since it is dark at night, the animal does not see the pit. However, if a normal grown animal falls into the pit by day and is killed, Reuven is exempt from payment. Grown animals usually see obstacles and avoid them. If any animal is injured (as distinguished from being killed) by falling into the pit, Reuven is liable, irrespective of whether it is day or night.
Assume Reuven is digging a pit in a domain where he would be liable for damages caused by the pit. Reuven’s digging creates a noise. Because of the noise Shimon’s ox falls into the pit and is killed. If it fell into the pit face forward, Reuven is liable; if it fell backwards into the pit, Reuven is not liable. There is no liability since the animal did not fall into the pit in its normal manner.
Reuven is digging inside a pit in a domain where he would be liable for damages caused by the pit. While he is in the pit, Shimon’s ox falls into it and kills Reuven. Shimon has no liability to Reuven’s heirs. If Shimon’s ox is injured by the fall into the pit, Shimon can collect damages from Reuven’s heirs. Reuven is not liable if any person falls into the pit that he dug and that person is killed, regardless of the person’s age and physical or mental capacity and whether day or night. However if a deaf-mute or a mentally deficient person or a minor falls into the pit, day or night and is injured (as distinguished from being killed) Reuven is liable. He is also liable if a normal person falls into the pit at night and is injured. When Reuven is liable to pay for the person’s injury he pays only for the category of permanent injury and is free from other categories of payment.
Reuven is not liable for any vessels belonging to Shimon that are damaged or destroyed by falling into the pit regardless of the height or depth of the pit. This holds true whether the vessels fell into the pit together with the animal or person that was carrying them or wearing them, or fell by themselves into the pit when the animal or person that was carrying them or wearing them or fell by themselves into the pit when the animal or person fell into the pit or tripped over the mound. Reuven is liable for damage occurring to the ox but not to the gear on it. (to be cont. IYH)

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