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Shabbat Parashat Devarim | 5769

Hemdat HaDaf HaYomi: Obligation to Pay "Latzet Yedei Shamayim"(to fulfill one's obligation toward Heaven)

Rav Ofer Livnat

This week in the Daf Hayomi, the Gemara deals with the prohibition of preventing an animal from eating while it is working. This prohibition states, that if the animal is doing work which involves something edible, one may not keep it muzzled but must instead allow the animal to eat. The punishment for transgressing this prohibition, as for most prohibitions, is lashes. What happens if one rented an animal and kept it muzzled while working with it? The Gemara (91a) quotes a Berayta (Tanaic source) that states that the renter receives lashes, and, in addition, he must pay the owner of the animal for the food that the animal would have eaten. The reason for this is that a person who rents an animal is obligated to feed it, and part of the food that he is obligated to provide, is the food that the animal eats while it is working. Therefore, if he prevented the animal from eating, in addition to the transgression, he did not fulfill his obligation towards the owner of the animal, and he must compensate him.

The Gemara questions this Berayta, since it is against the principle that a Beit Din does not both punish with lashes and obligate payment for the same action. The Gemara offers several resolutions to this question. One of the answers is that although Beit Din does not obligate payment, the person is still obligated to pay "Latzet Yedei Shamayim."

We find in several places in the Gemara that a person is not obligated to pay by the laws invoked by the human courts, but is still obligated to pay "Latzet Yedei Shamayim." However, the Ktzot Hachoshen (87, 23) claims that the obligation in our Gemara is different from the other situations. In the other cases, according to the strict monetary law, one is not obligated to pay. However, if one wants to have a clean slate before Hashem, he should pay. But, in our case, one is theoretically obligated to pay even according to the monetary law. It is only that Beit Din does not force him to pay, since a Beit Din does not both give lashes and obligate payment for the same action.

There are several ramifications to this distinction, such as the following: What happens if the one to whom money is owed "Latzet Yedei Shamayim" somehow received money that belongs to the person who owes him, is he permitted to take it? The Ketzot explains that, in most cases, one is not allowed to take the money, since there is no monetary obligation towards him, and if the person does not want to clean his slate before Hashem, then he has no right to take the money. However, in a situation similar to the one in our Gemara, he would be allowed to take the money, since, in truth, there is a monetary obligation, but it is only that Beit Din does not enforce it.


There are two types of obligations "Latzet Yedei Shamayim." One is only a moral obligation; if one wants to have a clean slate before the Heavenly courts. The second is a monetary obligation, which, for certain reasons, the Beit Din does not enforce. This too is termed as an obligation "LatzetYedei Shamayim," but has more power in various cases.  


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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of

R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga  Brachfeld



Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker

and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.


Hemdat Yamim of this week

is dedicated in memory of

Yitzchak Eizik ben Yehuda Leib a"h,

whose Yahrtzeit is the 29th of Av


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