Someone asked me (as a Rabbi) this "rhetorical" question:

Is someone with an untied shoelace walks in a place where many people walk and someone steps on his shoelace, and he (the person with the untied shoelace) trips and hurts himself, is the person who stepped on his shoelace responsible?
(There might be a difference if the person stepped on his shoelace while he was standing vs. walking)

I am looking for Halochic sources regarding this to show him (to use this opportunity to learn some Torah), please

ideas that come to me,
on one hand the halacha "about someone with a lot of flax passing a home with a candle burning"
on the other hand the halacha (BK 32a SA CM 378.8) that "before Shabbos there is a hazaka that people rush and if there is damages because of that the one who did not realize the person running is responsible"

  • For the candle it's a Gamal, not a man – kouty Dec 31 '19 at 20:19
  • I think that people doesn't check the shoelaces of others. So, obviously following the Gemara bk 32a the man who doesn't check his shoelaces is Chayav,. I mean the second man is patur – kouty Dec 31 '19 at 20:21
  • he.m.wikisource.org/wiki/… – kouty Dec 31 '19 at 20:30
  • chabad.org/1088913 – hazoriz Jan 1 '20 at 0:05

Sounds like it might be similar to a case in Choshen Mishpat 395:1, where Reuven provokes Shimon's dog into biting, and it bites Reuven himself. In that case Shimon is exempt from paying for the damages, because "when someone acts inappropriately, and then someone else further acts inappropriately (and the combination results in an injury)," the second party is exempt.

Here also, possibly, Reuven has no business walking around with untied shoelaces, and indeed he's thereby putting himself at risk of tripping (even without anyone else's involvement). So Shimon stepping on his shoelaces and triggering Reuven's fall could be analogized to Shimon owning a dog which Reuven carelessly provokes.

  • 1
    +1 but by a person it might be different Adam muod lolam – hazoriz Dec 31 '19 at 19:26
  • @hazoriz Excellent point, and thanks. In fact, that may be the subject of a machlokes between Tosafos and Meiri. Tosafos (Bava Kamma 27b ד"ה אמאי) says what you said, that כל המשנה doesn't apply to people, whereas Meiri (ibid.) seems to be saying that it does, because he says that only if the one who left the barrel there wasn't משנה is the other party liable for deliberately breaking it. – Meir Dec 31 '19 at 19:54
  • but here he is not (actively) hitting him, he is only stepping on his shoelace, – hazoriz Dec 31 '19 at 20:48
  • @hazoriz Then according to Meiri it would seem that he's certainly not liable (because if we say that even where Reuven breaks Shimon's barrels deliberately he's פטור if Shimon had no business placing them there, then all the more so here). What Tosafos would say, then, I'm not sure. Although your last point brings up another issue as well - even if we don't apply כל המשנה, Shimon might not be liable anyway, because it's just גרמא. That in turn would get into the whole issue of גרמא vs. גרמי... – Meir Dec 31 '19 at 22:18

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