Bava Kamma Chapter Two Mishnah One
This mishnah deals with damages done by an animal through trampling. We learned in the mishnah at the end of chapter one that when an animal causes damages in a usual manner, meaning it is an attested danger (muad) for that damage, the owner is obligated to make full restitution. However, if the damages are done in an unusual manner, for which the animal is an unattested danger (tam), the owner is only obligated to make half restitution. This mishnah continues to deal with these concepts with regards to damages done by trampling.
1) How is the leg [of a beast] an attested danger to break [what it tramples upon] as it walks along?
a) A beast is an attested danger [only] in so far as it goes along in its usual way and breaks [an object].
b) If it kicked, or if small stones were tossed out from beneath its feet and it thus broke other vessels, one pays half damages.
c) If it trampled upon a vessel and broke it, and this [broken vessel] fell upon another vessel and broke it, for the first one pays full damages and for the other half damages.
2) Fowls (chickens and roosters) are an attested danger in so far as they go along in their usual way and break [objects].
a) But if the fowl had its feet entangled, or if it was jumping and it thereby broke any vessel one pays half damages.
The first section of the mishnah deals with damages done by a beast, meaning a domesticated animal, cow, sheep or goat, by trampling on another object. If the damage is done in an anticipated, usual manner, the owner is obligated for full damages. She should have watched over her animal, and since she did not, she is obligated to make full restitution. Section 1c brings up a strange circumstance whereby with one action the animal damages two vessels. For the first vessel the owner is obligated for full restitution and for the second vessel only half restitution.
The second section of the mishnah basically states that the same is generally true for damages done by fowl. They too are attested dangers to damage while walking in their usual manner. Section 2a brings up special circumstances in which the fowl damaged in an unusual way, and therefore the owner is only obligated for half restitution.
Questions for Further Thought
· Why according to section 1c is the owner obligated for full restitution on the first vessel and only half restitution on the second vessel? If the mishnah had not taught you this what might you have thought the law would be?
· Why does the mishnah need to mention both beasts and fowl? If, for instance, the mishnah had taught just the first section dealing with beasts, what would you have thought the law would be with regards to fowl?