Bava Kamma - Damage Caused By Criminal Acts

Damage Caused By Criminal Acts

There are three types of damages caused by a criminal act: (1) by theft (ch. vii.); (2) by violence (ch. viii.); (3) by robbery (ch. ix.-x.).

(1) "If a man steal an ox or a lamb and slaughter the same or sell it, five cattle shall he pay for the ox and four sheep for the lamb" (Exodus 21:37). The regulations as to how to apply this law under various circumstances are contained in chapter vii. 1-6.

(2) The compensation for injuries as the result of violence is discussed in chapter viii. Such compensation includes five items: for the permanent loss ("nezeḳ"), if any, in earning capacity; loss of time ("shebet"); pain ("ẓa'ar"); cost of the cure ("rippuy"); and insult ("boshet"). The scale of compensation for an insult, as given in the Mishnah, seems to indicate the maximum compensation, for the Mishnah adds, "The principle is that the amount depends on the injured man's station in life." Rabbi Akiba, however, opposed this principle, and desired to have one measure for all. A practical case decided by Rabbi Akiba is then cited (viii. 7). In addition to all the compensation paid, the offender must beg the injured man's pardon.

(3) He who has robbed his neighbor, and desires to make restitution, pays the full value of the thing taken and a fine of one-fifth of its value. (Lev 5:21-24 ). If the things taken by robbery have undergone a change, he pays according to the value the things had at the time of the robbery (ch. ix.). The last chapter considers cases in which the things taken are no longer in the hands of the robber, and concludes with the warning not to buy things suspected to be stolen. With the exception of chap. vii. 7 (on certain restrictions with regard to the rearing of cattle or poultry in Palestine), there are neither halakic nor haggadic digressions in this tractate.

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