Tuesday, July 19, 2016

More on the goring ox in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Tied Up in Knots Over a Goring Ox. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the Talmud tries to make sense of an incoherent Biblical law about awarding damages.
In this week’s Daf Yomi reading, the Talmud continued to elaborate the laws about how to deal with a goring ox. The original biblical statement of this law, in the Book of Exodus, is the origin of the concepts of negligence and due care in halakhah. The owner of an ox that goes wild and kills another ox or a person is not held responsible for its actions; the ox itself is to be killed, but its owner does not have to pay damages. If, on the other hand, that ox has a history of goring, and the owner does not take any precautions for restraining it, then he becomes liable for the damage or death it may cause. It is a simple and fair principle, but as often happens, the rabbis of Talmud find that it does not cover all the many complications that may arise in real life, or in the curious minds of the commentators.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.