Bava Kamma 50aבבא קמא נ׳ א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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50aנ׳ א

בבור ברשותו ר"ע סבר בור ברשותו נמי חייב דכתיב (שמות כא, לד) בעל הבור בבור דאית ליה בעלים קאמר רחמנא

in the case where one dug the pit on his own property and then renounced ownership of the surrounding area. Consequently, the entire area except for the pit is now open to public passage. In this case, Rabbi Akiva maintains that one who digs a pit on his own property is also liable, not only when the pit is located in the public domain, as it is written: “The owner of the pit shall pay” (Exodus 21:34). Clearly, the Merciful One is referring to a pit that has an owner. Therefore, the owner of the pit pays even if it is located on private property.

ור' ישמעאל סבר בעל התקלה

And Rabbi Yishmael maintains that “the owner of the pit” means that the one responsible for the hazard is liable even if he dug the pit in the public domain and then renounced ownership of it. But one who digs a pit on his own property is not liable.

אלא מאי זהו בור האמור בתורה דקאמר ר"ע זהו בור שפתח בו הכתוב תחלה לתשלומין

The Gemara asks: Rather, according to Rabba’s explanation, what is meant by the clause: This is the case of Pit that is stated in the Torah, in reference to digging a pit on one’s property, that Rabbi Akiva states? According to him, one is liable for damage in all cases, including digging in the public domain. The Gemara answers: It means that this is the pit with which the verse initially introduces the subject of compensation for damage caused. In that context, the Torah states: “The owner of the pit shall pay” (Exodus 21:34), indicating that even a pit owned on one’s private property renders one liable.

ורב יוסף אמר בבור ברה"י כולי עלמא לא פליגי דמחייב מאי טעמא בעל הבור אמר רחמנא בבור דאית ליה בעלים עסקינן

And Rav Yosef said that one can explain the dispute between Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Akiva differently: With regard to one who dug a pit on his private property and then renounced ownership of the property aside from the pit, everyone agrees that he is liable. What is the reason? Since the Merciful One states: “The owner of the pit,” it indicates that we are dealing with a pit that has an owner.

כי פליגי בבור ברה"ר רבי ישמעאל סבר בור ברה"ר נמי חייב דכתיב כי יפתח וכי יכרה אם על פתיחה חייב על כרייה לא כ"ש אלא שעל עסקי פתיחה ועל עסקי כרייה באה לו

When they disagree, it is in a case where the pit was dug in the public domain. Rabbi Yishmael maintains that one is also liable for a pit dug in the public domain, as it is written: “And if a man shall open a pit,” and: “If a man shall dig a pit” (Exodus 21:33), which raises the question: If he is liable for opening a pit by removing the cover of a pit that has already been dug, then is it not all the more so obvious that he should be liable for digging a new pit? Rather, the verse means that the responsibility for the pit comes to him by engaging in opening the pit and by engaging in digging the pit. Although he does not own the area itself, he is liable for creating a public hazard.

ור"ע הנהו מיצרך צריכי דאי כתב רחמנא כי יפתח הוה אמינא פותח הוא דסגי ליה בכסוי כורה לא סגי ליה בכסוי עד דטאים ליה

And Rabbi Akiva, by contrast, holds that one is liable only in the case of a pit located on private property, where he renounced ownership of the property aside from the pit, and one cannot derive otherwise from any extraneous phrases. This is because these phrases are necessary, for if the Merciful One wrote only: “If a man shall open a pit” (Exodus 21:33), I would say that it is specifically when one opens the covering of a pit that has already been dug that it is sufficient for him to place a covering on it to absolve himself of responsibility for damage it causes. This is the case where the Torah states: “And not cover it” (Exodus 21:33). But if one actually digs a pit, it would not be sufficient to place a covering on it, and one would not be exempt from damages unless he completely packs it.

ואי כתב רחמנא כי יכרה הוה אמינא כרייה הוא דבעי כסוי משום דעבד מעשה אבל פותח דלא עבד מעשה אימא כסוי נמי לא בעי קמ"ל

And conversely, if the Merciful One had written only: “If a man shall dig,” I would say that it is specifically in a case of digging that a covering is required to exempt one from liability, because he performed an action of creating the pit. But for merely opening it, where one has not performed an action, say that he does not require a covering to absolve him of liability. Therefore, the Torah teaches us that he is liable for damage caused by a pit in both cases, and one should interpret the verse that states: “The owner of the pit” (Exodus 21:34), in its plain sense, i.e., that he is the owner of the pit because it is located on his private property. Accordingly, one would not be liable for a pit dug in the public domain.

ואלא מאי זהו בור האמור בתורה דקאמר ר' ישמעאל זהו בור שפתח בו הכתוב תחלה לניזקין

The Gemara asks: But rather, according to Rav Yosef’s explanation, what is meant by the clause: This is the case of Pit that is stated in the Torah, in reference to digging a pit in the public domain, that Rabbi Yishmael states? Isn’t one liable for any pit, including one dug on his own property? The Gemara answers: It means that this is the pit with which the verse initially introduces the subject of damage caused by Pit, as explained by Rabbi Yishmael above. Only afterward does it state: “The owner of the pit shall pay,” referring to a pit dug on one’s own property.

מיתיבי החופר בור ברה"ר ופתחו לרה"י פטור ואף על פי שאינו רשאי לעשות כן לפי שאין עושין חלל תחת רה"ר

The Gemara raises an objection from a baraita: One who digs a pit whose hollow space is in the public domain and then opens its entrance into private property is exempt, and this is the halakha even though he does not have permission to do so. The reason he does not have permission to do so is that one may not create a hollow space under the public domain.

החופר בורות שיחין ומערות ברשות היחיד ופתחו לרה"ר חייב והחופר בורות ברה"י הסמוכה לרשות הרבים כגון אלו החופרים לאושין פטור ור' יוסי בר' יהודה מחייב עד שיעשה מחיצה עשרה או עד שירחיק ממקום דריסת רגלי אדם וממקום דריסת רגלי בהמה ארבעה טפחים

One who digs pits, ditches, and caves on private property and then opens their entrances into the public domain is liable. In addition, one who digs pits on private property that is adjacent to the public domain but not actually located in the public domain itself, such as these people who dig foundations [ushin] for their houses or walls, is exempt. But Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, deems one liable even for damage caused by pits made to lay foundations, unless he builds a partition that is ten handbreadths high in front of the pits, or unless he distances them by four handbreadths from the area where pedestrians walk and from the area where animals walk.

טעמא דלאושין הא לאו לאושין חייב

The Gemara infers: The reason for the exemption is that one digs for the purpose of foundations, which is the usual and accepted practice, but if he did not dig for the purpose of foundations, he is liable. Although he did so on his own property, he is nevertheless liable, since people walk there.

הא מני בשלמא לרבה רישא ר' ישמעאל וסיפא ר"ע

The Gemara clarifies: In accordance with whose opinion is this baraita? Granted, according to Rabba, the first clause, where one is seemingly exempt for opening a pit onto private property even if he subsequently renounced ownership of the area, can be established in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, and the last clause can be established in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, who maintains that one is liable for a pit dug on his own property if it is open to public traffic.

אלא לרב יוסף בשלמא סיפא דברי הכל אלא רישא מני לא רבי ישמעאל ולא ר"ע

But according to Rav Yosef’s explanation, granted, with regard to the last clause, all agree that this is the halakha. But with regard to the first clause, which exempts one who digs a pit on his own property, in accordance with whose opinion is this? It appears to be neither that of Rabbi Yishmael nor that of Rabbi Akiva, since Rav Yosef explained that both of them maintain that one is liable for a pit on his own property, even if he subsequently renounces ownership of the area.

אמר לך רב יוסף כולה דברי הכל היא ורישא שלא הפקיר לא רשותו ולא בורו

The Gemara answers that Rav Yosef could have said to you: Everyone agrees with the entire passage. As for the first clause, which exempts one who digs a pit under the public domain and opens it onto his own property, it is referring to a case where one did not renounce ownership of either his property or his pit. This certainly is not included in the category of Pit with regard to damages, and the owner is therefore exempt.

אמר רב אשי השתא דאוקימתא לרב יוסף לדברי הכל לרבה נמי לא תוקמה כתנאי

Rav Ashi said: Now that you have interpreted Rav Yosef’s explanation of the baraita as being in accordance with all opinions, then also according to Rabba, you are not required to establish it as a dispute between tanna’im.

מדרישא ר' ישמעאל סיפא נמי ר' ישמעאל וטעמא דלאושין הא לאו לאושין חייב כגון דארווח ארווחי לרה"ר

Rather, one can say that since the first clause is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, who exempts one who renounces ownership of his property but not the pit, the last clause can also be explained in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael. And it was previously inferred that the reason for the exemption when digging on one’s private property adjacent to the public domain is that one digs to lay foundations. But if it is not to lay foundations, one is liable. For instance, in a case where one widened the pit unnecessarily, extending it into the public domain, he has effectively dug a pit in the public domain itself.

מיתיבי החופר בור ברשות היחיד ופתחו לרה"ר חייב ברה"י הסמוכה לרה"ר פטור בשלמא לרבה כולה ר' ישמעאל היא אלא לרב יוסף בשלמא רישא רבי ישמעאל אלא סיפא מני לא ר' ישמעאל ולא ר"ע

The Gemara raises an objection from a baraita: One who digs a pit on private property and opens it into the public domain is liable. But if he dug it on private property that was adjacent to the public domain, he is exempt. Granted, according to Rabba, this mishna is entirely in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, who does not hold one liable for digging on his own property. But according to Rav Yosef, granted, the first clause works out well in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, who holds one liable even for digging in the public domain, but whose opinion is the latter clause? It appears to be neither that of Rabbi Yishmael nor that of Rabbi Akiva.

אמר לך בחופר לאושין ודברי הכל:

The Gemara answers that Rav Yosef could have said to you: The latter clause of this baraita is referring to one who digs to lay foundations, and therefore all agree with the ruling.

ת"ר חפר ופתח ומסר לרבים פטור חפר ופתח ולא מסר לרבים חייב וכן מנהגו של נחוניא חופר בורות שיחין ומערות שהיה חופר ופותח ומוסר לרבים וכששמעו חכמים בדבר אמרו קיים זה הלכה זו הלכה זו ותו לא אלא אימא אף הלכה זו:

§ The Sages taught: If someone dug or opened a well and transferred it to the public for their use, he is exempt from damage caused by the well. If he dug or opened a well and did not transfer it to the public, he is liable. And this was the practice of Neḥunya the digger of pits, ditches, and caves, who would dig, open, and transfer them to the public so that there would be wells of water for public use. When the Sages heard about the matter, they said: This individual has fulfilled this halakha. The Gemara asks: Only this halakha and no more? Isn’t it well known that Neḥunya was a great man? Rather, say: He fulfilled even this halakha and did not forget to transfer the wells to the public.

תנו רבנן מעשה בבתו של נחוניא חופר שיחין שנפלה לבור גדול באו והודיעו את רבי חנינא בן דוסא שעה ראשונה אמר להם שלום שניה אמר להם שלום שלישית אמר להם עלתה

Having mentioned the deeds of Neḥunya, the Gemara relates that the Sages taught: An incident occurred involving the daughter of Neḥunya the ditchdigger, where she fell into a large cistern and no one could extricate her from it. They came and informed Rabbi Ḥanina ben Dosa so that he would pray on her behalf. When the first hour had passed from the time of her fall, he said to them: She is at peace and unharmed. After the second hour, he said to them: She is at peace. After the third hour, he said to them: She has ascended from the well, and indeed this was the case.

אמרו לה מי העלך אמרה להם זכר של רחלים נזדמן לי וזקן אחד מנהיגו אמרו לו נביא אתה אמר להם לא נביא אנכי ולא בן נביא אנכי אלא כך אמרתי דבר שאותו צדיק מצטער בו יכשל בו זרעו

They said to her: Who brought you up out of the well? She said to them: A male sheep, i.e., a ram, happened to come to me, and a certain old man, i.e., Abraham, was leading it, and he pulled me out. They said to Rabbi Ḥanina ben Dosa: Are you a prophet? How did you know she had ascended? Rabbi Ḥanina ben Dosa said to them: “I am no prophet, neither am I a prophet’s son” (Amos 7:14), but this is what I said to myself: Shall the offspring of Neḥunya stumble by means of the very matter which distressed that righteous man?

אמר רבי אחא אף על פי כן מת בנו בצמא שנאמר (תהלים נ, ג) וסביביו נשערה מאד מלמד שהקדוש ברוך הוא מדקדק עם סביביו אפילו כחוט השערה ר' נחוניא אמר מהכא (תהלים פט, ח) אל נערץ בסוד קדושים רבה ונורא על כל סביביו

Rabbi Aḥa says: Although Neḥunya ensured that others would have water, even so, his son died of thirst, fulfilling that which is stated: “And around Him it storms [nisara] mightily” (Psalms 50:3). This teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, is scrupulous with those around Him, i.e., the righteous, even to the extent of a hairsbreadth [hasa’ara], so that even minor transgressions elicit a severe punishment. Rabbi Neḥunya says: The same idea may be learned from here, in the following verse: “A God dreaded in the great council of the holy ones, and feared by all those that surround Him” (Psalms 89:8), indicating that God is most careful and exacting with those that surround Him, i.e., the righteous.

אמר ר' חנינא כל האומר הקב"ה ותרן הוא יותרו חייו שנאמר (דברים לב, ד) הצור תמים פעלו כי כל דרכיו משפט א"ר חנא ואיתימא ר' שמואל בר נחמני מאי דכתיב

Rabbi Ḥanina says: Anyone who states that the Holy One, Blessed be He, is forgiving [vateran] of transgressions, his life will be relinquished [yivatru], as it is stated: “The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice” (Deuteronomy 32:4). In other words, God does not waive heavenly justice. Rabbi Ḥana says, and some say that Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says: What is the meaning of that which is written