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Shabbat Parashat Bo | 5769

The Obligation of a person who ran in a public domain and caused damage

Hemdat HaDaf Hayomi

Rabbi Ofer Livnat

Baba Kama 28-34


We learned this week in our studies of the Daf Yomi (daf 32a) that if a person ran in the street and caused damage to another person that was walking there, he is obligated to pay for the damages. Since the normal pace of movement in a street is walking, running is considered unusual. Nonetheless, the Talmud states that a person who ran Erev Shabbat at dusk and caused damage is exempt – since one is allowed to run in preparation for Shabbat.

This halachah is codified in the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 378: 8). The Ramah (in accordance with the Nimukei Yosef’s citation of Rav Meir Halevy Abulafia, daf 15b, dapei HaRif) limits this ruling. Although we normally assume that a person who runs Erev Shabbat at dusk does so in honor of the Sabbath, if it is known that his running was not in honor of the Sabbath, but rather for his own purposes, he would be obligated to pay damages.

The Smah (sif katan 11) understood that according to the Ramah, only a person who ran in actual preparation for Shabbat is exempt. However, if he ran for personal reasons, although he was doing so in order to finish his tasks before Shabbat, he is obligated to pay damages. However, the Tosafot Yom Tov (Baba Kama, chapter 3, Mishnah 6) proves from the wording of the Rambam (Mishnah Torah, Chovel U’Mazik, chapter 6, halachah 9) “and if it was Erev Shabbat at dusk, he is exempt – since he was running in a permissible manner lest Shabbat would enter without his being free,” that even if he ran to take care of his personal needs in order to complete them before Shabbat, it is considered running for the sake of Shabbat, and he is exempt. The Aruch HaShulchan (378: 18) likewise rules this way and states that this is in accordance with the Ramah as well.

The Halachic authorities additionally deliberated on what the ruling would be if a person would run for the sake of another mitzvah and would subsequently cause damage. The Mordechai (Baba Kama, siman 38) rules that only one who ran in preparation for Shabbat is exempt, because there is a time constraint. However, if a person ran for other Mitzvot, such as running to a Synagogue or to a Beit Midrash, since there is no time pressure, he is liable for damages. The Chavot Yair (siman 207, mentioned in the Pitchei Teshuvah, siman 378, sif katan 3) similarly ruled regarding a person who heard the gabbai call out to gather for Kiddush Levanah and ran in order to get there in time to recite the blessing on the moon together with everybody else, but caused damage on the way – that although there is a mitzvah to recite the blessing on the moon together with others, nevertheless, since it is possible to recite the blessing on the moon alone, the situation is not as urgent as running for the sake of Shabbat and one is liable for damages.

However, if a person runs for the purpose of pikuach nefesh [lifesaving measures], such as saving someone from a fire or from drowning, the Aruch HaShulchan rules that he would certainly be exemptsince in such a case one must run as fast as possible – even more than a person running for the sake of Shabbat.


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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of Shirley, Sara Rivka bat Yaakov Tzvi HaCohen z”L
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R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga      Brachfeld


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