Bava Kamma Chapter Eight Mishnayoth Two and Three



Mishnah two compares payments for injuries caused by an ox with payments for injuries caused by a human.  Mishnah three deals with several laws related to personal injury. 


Mishnah Two

The law is more strict in the case of a man than in the case of an ox:  for a man must pay for injury, pain, medical costs, loss of income and indignity, and make restitution for the value of the young; whereas the ox pays only for injury and is not liable for the value of the young.


Explanation—Mishnah Two

This mishnah lists the differences in liability for an ox that injures versus a human who injures. As we learned in the previous mishnah a human who injures another person must make five different payments.  An ox, however, who injures a human being pays only for the injury itself.  Furthermore, if a human should injure a woman and cause her to miscarry, he is obligated to pay for the value of the miscarried child/ren.  An ox that injures is not liable for this payment.  (For the assessment of such a payment see above 5:4).


Mishnah Three

1)                     If a man struck his father or his mother and inflicted no wound, or if he wounded his fellow on Yom Kippur, he is liable for all five counts.

2)                     If he wounded a Hebrew slave, he is liable on all five counts, except loss of income if it was his slave.

a)                                           If he wounded a Canaanite slave (non-Jewish slave) he is liable on all five counts.

b)                                          Rabbi Judah says:  “Slaves do not receive compensation for indignity.”


Explanation—Mishnah Three

Section one teaches a few laws, for which we will find the opposite scenario in mishnah five.  There we will learn, as we have learned in other places, that a person cannot receive two punishments for the same crime.  Inflicting a wound on one’s father or mother is a capital crime (Exodus 21:15) as is inflicting a wound on the Sabbath.  Therefore if he were to perform one of these acts he would be obligated for the death penalty and therefore exempt from a monetary fine.  However, in our mishnah he did not commit a crime for which he could receive the death penalty, and therefore he is liable for the monetary fine.  Striking one’s parents without causing a wound is not a crime for which one would receive the death penalty.  Likewise, inflicting a wound on Yom Kippur, as all forbidden acts on Yom Kippur is punishable by “kareth” (cutting off) and not the death penalty.

Section two deals with injuring slaves.  There are two kinds of slaves in Jewish law, a Jewish slave and a non-Jewish slave. If one injures a Jewish slave he is obligated for all of the payments unless he injured his own slave.  His own slave performs work for him and therefore there would be no sense in paying the slave for loss of work.  If one injures a non-Jewish slave he is obligated for all of the payments.  Rabbi Judah disagrees. In his opinion slaves do not receive payment for indignity since they are already in a position of constant indignity.


Questions for Further Thought:

·                      Why do you think that when an ox injures a human its owner is only obligated to pay for the injury, whereas when a human injures another human, he must make five different types of payment?

·                      What do you think Rabbi Judah would say about indignity payments for Jewish slaves?