In Bava Kamma 27a we find the following scenario:

If a man fell from a roof and was inserted into a woman [due to the force of the fall, but with no intention to engage in sexual intercourse,] he is liable to pay the four types of indemnity [damages, pain, medical costs, loss of livelihood]. And if this woman was his yevama [waiting for him to perform levirate marriage], he has not acquired her [as his wife through this act of intercourse. ]

I have trouble understanding how, in the mind of the Sages, this scenario could possibly unfold. Were the two people naked, as they would have to have been? Wouldn't that be of probability zero? Wouldn't the woman had to have been lying down, not erect? Would the man not have had to have been aroused, also with probability zero under the circumstances?

This is not a frivolous question. I know the Talmud is full of unlikely scenarios described to illustrate the law. But this one is beyond unlikely. Why is it there?

If the teaching is that unintentional intercourse does not count, there are plausible scenarios for that. I believe there must be more to this story.

  • 1
    Just because something is probability zero doesn't mean it's impossible, and even if it is, they're just trying to make a point.
    – DonielF
    Mar 2, 2020 at 17:20
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    How is this case impossible? You just described how it would happen. She'd have to be in the right position, he'd have to fall at the right angle, etc. You literally proved yourself wrong. Are you asking why they used a case orders of magnitude more unlikely than the unlikely cases you ordinarily encounter?
    – Double AA
    Mar 2, 2020 at 17:31
  • @DoubleAA -- Please don't change my wording. I said "impossible" and I mean "impossible". Feel free to question this assertion. Mar 2, 2020 at 17:41
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    You clearly aren't using English words according to generally accepted definitions. -1 for terrible communication.
    – Double AA
    Mar 2, 2020 at 17:57
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    This is an excellent question as I prove in my comment after my answer. Even though you may have other answers, but if a godol who wrote on the whole of shas asks the question, and has to resort that to shas being mistaken or not belonging to it , then surely that proves how good the question is. I just cant understand the audience and posters here.
    – interested
    Mar 6, 2020 at 14:27

3 Answers 3


They make an unusual case because they want to separate the damages aspect of intercourse from other penalties not derived from halachic torts.

  1. In general I assume that when we see strange cases like this that they actually happened once, or at least that such a story was going around.
  2. I think the picture of someone walking along a roof and falling off landing perfectly in a woman below is not the intention here. Instead, the story would be that someone went to sleep on a ledge where a woman was sleeping below, and during the night he rolled over and landed next to her, and they proceeded to have intercourse without waking up. This is possible and known to happen (search the web at your own risk). (Rabbeinu Chananel's version of the text reads that he was sleeping.)
  3. Similar to @kouty's comment, the gemara uses extreme cases as a way to clarify the boundaries of the halacha, and it is meant as a tool to analyze the relevant halachic components, and not as a case study.

This was not written by the gemoro but added by people who make fun of the gemoro

from hagahos Rabbi Yosef Zvi ben Eliezer Halevi Dunner

enter image description here

  • 1
    1. Please edit in your sources. 2. This might address this particular case, but not the general principle, where Chazal use impossible cases regularly to illustrate halachos.
    – DonielF
    Mar 4, 2020 at 23:46
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    I really don't know how you expect anyone to read that, as blurry as it is. All I'm asking of you is to type out his name in the post – I don't think I'm making such a big ask here.
    – DonielF
    Mar 5, 2020 at 0:01

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