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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Kamma
But according to the view that his inquiry concerned concealed goods in the case of Fire, what need was there for the verses?1 — He might say to you that besides [the problem of] hidden goods [in the case of Fire], one of the other problems [referred to above]2 was asked by him. Now according to the [other] two views we quite understand why it is written, But he would not drink thereof,3 for he said, 'Since there is a [general] prohibition4 I do not want it.'5 But according to the view that his inquiry concerned hidden goods6 in the case of Fire, was it not a traditional teaching which was despatched to him, [and that being so,]7 what would be the meaning of 'But he would not drink thereof'?8 — [The meaning would be] that he did not want to quote this teaching in their names,9 for he said: 'This has been transmitted to me from the Court of Law presided over by Samuel of Ramah, that no halachic matter may be quoted in the name of one who surrenders himself to meet death for words of the Torah.'
But he poured it out unto the Lord.3 We quite understand this according to the [other] two views, as he acted thus for the sake of Heaven.10 But according to the view that [his inquiry concerned] hidden goods in the case of Fire, what would be the meaning [of this verse], 'but he poured it out unto the Lord'? — That he repeated this [halachic statement] in the name of general traditional learning.11
GEMARA. But was it not taught: 'If it crossed a fence four cubits high there would [still] be liability'? — R. Papa thereupon said: The Tanna of our ruling [here] was reckoning downwards; [at the height of] six cubits there would be exemption; at five cubits, there would be exemption; down to [the height of] four cubits14 there would [still] be exemption. The Tanna of the Baraitha [was on the other hand] reckoning upwards; at [the height of] two cubits, there would be liability; of three cubits,15 there would be liability; up to [the height of] four cubits, there would [still] be liability.
Raba said: [The height of] four cubits stated [in the Mishnah] as not involving liability would also suffice even where the fire passed over to a field of thorns. R. Papa, however, said: [The height of] four cubits should be calculated from the top of the thorns.
Rab said: The Mishnaic ruling applies only where the fire was rising in a column, but where it was creeping along there would be liability, even if it crossed a public road of about [the width of] a hundred cubits. Samuel [on the other hand] said that the Mishnah deals with a creeping fire; for in the case of a fire rising in a column there would be exemption if it crossed a public road of any width whatsoever. It was, however, taught in accordance with Rab: This ruling16 applies only where it was rising in a column; if it was creeping along, and wood happened to be in its path, there would be liability were it even to pass over a public ground of about the width of a hundred mil.17 If, however, it crossed a river or pool eight cubits wide, there would be exemption.
A PUBLIC ROAD. Who was the Tanna [who laid this down]? — Raba said: He was R. Eliezer, as we have indeed learnt: 'R. Eliezer says: [If it was] sixteen cubits [wide] like the road in a public thoroughfare, [there would be exemption].18
OR A CANAL. Rab said: It means an actual river. Samuel, however, said: It means a pond for watering fields. The one who says it is an actual river [would maintain the same ruling19] even where there was no water there.19 But the one who says it means a pond for watering fields [would hold that] so long as there was water there the ruling would apply, but not where no water was there.
Elsewhere we have learnt: 'Divisions [of fields] with respect to Pe'ah20 are effected by the following: a brook, a shelulith, a private road and a public road.21 What is shelulith? — Rab Judah stated that Samuel had said: A [low lying] place where rainwater collects.22 R. Bibi, however, said on behalf of R. Johanan: A pond of water which [as it were] distributes spoil23 to the banks. The one who says that it means a [low-lying] place where rain water collects would certainly apply the ruling to a pond of water,24 but the one who says that it means a pond of water would on the other hand maintain that [low-lying] places where rain-water collects would not cause a division, as these
Baba Kamma 61b
should more properly be called the receptacles of the land.1
MISHNAH. IF A MAN KINDLES A FIRE ON HIS OWN [PREMISES], UP TO WHAT DISTANCE CAN THE FIRE PASS ON [BEFORE HE BECOMES FREE OF LIABILITY]? R. ELEAZAR B. AZARIAH SAYS: IT HAS TO BE REGARDED AS BEING IN THE CENTRE OF AN AREA REQUIRING A KOR2 OF SEED.3 R. ELIEZER4 SAYS: [A DISTANCE OF] SIXTEEN CUBITS [SUFFICES], EQUAL TO [THE WIDTH OF] A ROAD IN A PUBLIC THOROUGHFARE.5 R. AKIBA SAYS FIFTY CUBITS. R. SIMEON SAYS: [SCRIPTURE SAYS] HE WHO KINDLED THE FIRE SHOULD MAKE RESTITUTION,6 [WHICH SHOWS THAT] ALL DEPENDS UPON THE FIRE.
GEMARA. Did R. Simeon not hold that there is some fixed limit in the case of Fire?7 Have we not learnt: 'No man shall fix8 an oven on a ground floor unless there is a space of four cubits from the top of it [to the ceiling]. If he fixes it on an upper floor [he may not do so]8 unless there will be under it three handbreadths of cement; in the case, however, of a portable stove, one handbreadth will suffice. If [after all these precautions] damage has nevertheless resulted, payment must be made for the damage. R. Simeon says that these limits were only to intimate that if damage resulted [after they were observed] there should be exemption.9 [Does this not prove that R. Simeon maintained a minimum limit of precaution?] — R. Nahman therefore stated that Rabbah b. Abbahu said: [The meaning of R. Simeon's phrase 'all thus depends upon the fire' is that] all should depend upon the height of the fire, [and that no general limits could be fixed].10 R. Joseph, [however,] stated that Rab Judah said on behalf of Samuel: The halachah is in accordance with R. Simeon.11 So also said R. Nahman, that Samuel said that the halachah was in accordance with R. Simeon.11
MISHNAH. IF A MAN SETS FIRE TO A STACK OF CORN IN WHICH THERE HAPPEN TO BE ARTICLES AND THESE ARE BURNT, R. JUDAH SAYS THAT PAYMENT SHOULD BE MADE FOR ALL THAT WAS THEREIN, WHEREAS THE SAGES SAY THAT NO PAYMENT SHOULD BE MADE EXCEPT FOR A STACK OF WHEAT OR FOR A STACK OF BARLEY. [WHERE FIRE WAS SET TO A BARN TO WHICH] A GOAT HAD BEEN FASTENED AND NEAR WHICH WAS A SLAVE [LOOSE] AND ALL WERE BURNT WITH THE BARN, THERE WOULD BE LIABILITY.12 IF, HOWEVER, THE SLAVE HAD BEEN CHAINED TO IT, AND THE GOAT WAS LOOSE NEAR BY IT, AND ALL WERE BURNT WITH IT, THERE WOULD BE EXEMPTION.13 THE SAGES, HOWEVER, AGREE WITH R. JUDAH14 IN THE CASE OF ONE WHO SET FIRE TO A CASTLE THAT THE PAYMENT SHOULD BE FOR ALL THAT WAS KEPT THEREIN, AS IT IS SURELY THE CUSTOM OF MEN TO KEEP [VALUABLES] IN [THEIR] HOMES.15
GEMARA. R. Kahana said: The difference [of opinion]16 was only where the man kindled the fire on his own [premises], from which it passed on and consumed [the stack standing] in his neighbour's premises, R. Judah imposing liability for damage done to Tamun17 in the case of Fire whereas, the Rabbis18 grant exemption. But if he kindled the fire on the premises of his neighbour, both agreed that he would have to pay for all that was there.19 Said Raba to him: 'If so, why does it say in the concluding clause, THE SAGES, HOWEVER, AGREE WITH R. JUDAH IN THE CASE OF ONE WHO SET FIRE TO A CASTLE THAT THE PAYMENT SHOULD BE FOR ALL THAT WAS KEPT THEREIN'? Now why not draw the distinction in the same case by making the text run thus: These statements apply only in the case where be kindled the fire on his own [premises], whence it travelled and consumed [the stacks standing] in his neighbour's premises; but where he kindled the fire in the premises of his neighbour, all would agree that he should pay for all that was kept there? — Raba therefore said: They differed in both cases. They differed where he kindled the fire in his own [premises] whence it travelled and consumed [stacks standing] in his neighbour's premises, R. Judah imposing liability to pay for Tamun in the case of Fire, whereas the [other] Rabbis hold that he is not liable [to pay for Tamun in the case of Fire].20 They also differed in the case where he kindled a fire in the premises of his neighbour, R. Judah holding that he should pay for everything that was there, including even purses [of money], whereas the Rabbis held that it was only for utensils which were usually put away in the stacks, stich as e.g. threshing sledges and cattle harnesses that payment would have to be made, but for articles not usually kept in stacks no payment would have to be made.
Our Rabbis taught: If a man set fire to a stack of corn in which there were utensils and they were burnt, R. Judah says that payment should be made for all that was stored there, whereas the Sages say that no payment should be made except for a stack of wheat or for a stack of barley, and that the space occupied by the utensils has to be considered as if it was full of corn.21
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