Bava Kamma Chapter Three Mishnayoth Six-Seven

 

Introduction

The first mishnah we will learn today continues to deal with damages caused by people bumping into each other in the public domain. 

The second mishnah, the seventh of the chapter, deals with a person who is chopping wood and a chip flies off and injures someone else.  The new topic here is damages caused by a person’s livelihood to other people.  The mishnah teaches us that although a person has a right to work in a profession that he/she may choose, that profession cannot cause damage to other people.

 

Mishnah Six

[If] two were walking along in the public domain, the one running and the other walking, or both running and they injured one another, neither is liable.

 

Mishnah Seven

[If] a man was splitting wood in the private domain and injured anyone in the public domain,

or if he was in the public domain and injured anyone in the private domain,

or if he was in a private domain and injured anyone in another private domain,

he is liable.

 

Explanation

Mishnah six teaches again that people have the right to walk in the public domain and if someone bumps into them, they will not be liable for damages, unless they should have seen the person, as we learned yesterday.  The new element in this mishnah is running.  One might have thought that running in the public domain is by its nature dangerous, and therefore anyone who does so will be liable for any damages he/she causes.  The mishnah says no, a person has the right to run in the public domain.  Running in and of itself is not a criminally negligent activity and therefore does not carry with it an added degree of liability.

Mishnah seven teaches that if a person while chopping wood damages another person, no matter where the chopping is done and no matter where the damages are done, the wood-chopper is liable.

 

Questions for Further Thought:

·                      Yesterday I suggested to analogize the mishnah’s descriptions of accidents in the public domain to traffic accidents in our society.  What might be a modern equivalent to running?  Try to think of something that is inherently more dangerous but still legal and does not carry with it any extra liability.  Is there such a thing?

·                      Based on mishnah seven, would you think a person would be liable if while chopping wood on his own property he damages someone who has entered his property?

 

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