While most laws stem from the Sages' logic presented in the Gemmorah, there is a subset of Halochos called Hukim (decrees) that are to be taken without understanding their reasoning.

Are there Hukim in monetary laws, between a Jew and his fellow?

  • 1
    A Gazlan not paying a fine
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 15:06
  • 1
    All kinds of קנס
    – Heshy
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 15:36
  • Inheritance laws are called חקת משפט. Going back a few centuries, of course daughters don't inherit if there's a son. Now, it's hard to understand why they don't. Either way, it's the גזרת מלך and we follow it whether we understand it or not.
    – Heshy
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 15:51
  • 3
    Every mishpat has an aspect of chok. For example, why does someone who steals a cow pay 5 times the amount. And a sheep 4 times. There are reasons why the sheep is less, but no reason why specifically 5 and 4 times, as opposed to another amount.
    – Menachem
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 18:21
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    I think that "hukim" or "laws that defy common logic" are two very different things, especially when referring to monetary law Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 3:38

5 Answers 5


Compiling some answers from the comments to the OP (feel free to add more):

  • If you ignite someone else’s property, you’re exempt from paying for anything which was hidden and damaged by the fire (BK 61b)
  • You’re only liable for animals damaged in your pit, not humans or vessels (BK 52a)
  • If someone entrusted an object to you, and he was working for you at the time of the entrusting, you’re exempt from even gross negligence (BM 94a, 95a, Tosfos ad. loc. DH Itmar)
  • A bechor (firstborn) receives twice more inheritance than what each of his other brothers recieve. This does not apply if the firstborn brother was born via C-section (Bechoros 47b)
  • these are explained by reishonim. The 2nd you're only patur if you kill a man not damage. And reason is because he should've been more careful not to get himself killed, so it wasn't completely your fault.
    – Shlomy
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 0:58

בעליו עמו is a rather perplexing halacha that most people struggle to make sense of. See the Ibn Ezra and Chizkuni on the psukim (shemos 22:13,14) who both explain it albeit not in line with what the actual halacha is according to the gemara; see the Ralbag there who says a svara that doesn't apply in all cases; see Rav Hirsch there who has a big arichus trying to explain it. Tosfos in Bava Meitzia says that there taka is no reason (96a s.v. ונשאל).

I hope this was helpful.


One of the concepts of torts in Jewish law is גרמא בניזקין, which refers to an action that indirectly causes damage.

According to Jewish law, גרמא בנזקין פטור (Bava Kamma 60a), the tortious person is not liable for such damages, and the Beis Din will not charge him for them.

Nevertheless, the Talmud (Bava Basra 22b) teaches that גרמא בניזקין אסור, a person is prohibited from causing such types of damage, and while Beis Din doesn't obligate for such damages, the Heavenly court will punish the person, פטור מדיני אדם וחייב בדיני שמים.

Bava Kamma 55b

תניא, אמר ר' יהושע, ארבעה דברים העושה אותן פטור מדיני אדם וחייב בדיני שמים, ואלו הן: הפורץ גדר בפני בהמת חבירו, והכופף קמתו של חבירו בפני הדליקה, והשוכר עדי שקר להעיד, והיודע עדות לחבירו ואינו מעיד לו

It follows that it's incumbent upon the person to oblige the laws of heaven, and to pay the damage, and until he does so, the sin will not be forgiven.

This is seemingly a paradox. If he's guilty in Heaven, then why doesn't Beis Din enforce payment?

For further discussion of this issue, see here: קימ"ל שגרמא פטור האם יש סברה לזה ?

  • A good point. THe Wiki says "Following Roman law, the English system has long been based on a closed system[clarification needed] of nominate torts, such as trespass, battery and conversion. Does it mean that גרמא בנזיקים פטור was once the standard of the legal system?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 22:04
  • I don't think this answers the question. While there might be something 'paradoxical' in prohibiting an action for which one would not be liable for damage caused, this surely does not 'defy common logic'. It's wrong to call people disparaging names, or curse at them, or do lots of mean things that are still not going to be judicable in a court of law, and this is true in every legal system. Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 13:29
  • @הנערהזה You mischaracterized the nature of the paradox. The same Hashem that will you hold you accountable in Heaven for the action, disallowed BD to hold you accountable for it, even though BD's job is to hold people accountable for torts. - The key word in the OP is "common" logic. Do you have a logical explanation for this halacha? If no, then it meets the average Joe test. Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 14:39
  • I see; you're right that I misunderstood the "paradox" which is based on an assumption that it's the court's job to "hold people accountable for torts." It's too late to undo my downvote but I still think that this isn't much of a paradox. Firstly, I don't assume that the court is responsible for enforcing all monetary liabilities, even torts. More importantly (but this is a very long discussion). my understanding is that gerama be-nezikin is not really part of tort law at all, it's just something that should obviously not be done because it's not nice, and God insists that we be nice Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 15:01
  • A similar case is that of kofer, wherein a person fails to prevent his dangerous animal from killing someone. Even though the owner must take care that this does not happen, whether or not he has to pay the victim's inheritors is subject to dispute (Bava Kamma 40a) Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 15:02

Bava Kama 45b: R. Yehuda is of the opinion that a שור מועד, an ox that is identified as being likely to gore someone/something, needs less guarding than a שור תם, a regular ox.

  • add this to the community list Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 14:59

I remember learning in Rambam,in certain cases,if someone was mentally ill or a minor and caused certain financial damages, you couldn't sue them for it and you had to swallow the loss. Remember the Rambam saying in the next paragraph, how it was best to stay away from such people if there is a chance that they could cause that certain type of financial loss.

  • 2
    See bava kama 8:4
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 2:57

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