3

As per פרשת משפטים פרק כ”ב פסוק י”ד, when one borrows an item and the owner of the item does work for the borrower at that time, the borrower is exempt from paying for anything that happens to the animal.

אִם־בְּעָלָ֥יו עִמּ֖וֹ לֹ֣א יְשַׁלֵּ֑ם אִם־שָׂכִ֣יר ה֔וּא בָּ֖א בִּשְׂכָרֽוֹ׃ {ס}         If its owner was with it, no restitution need be made; but if it was hired, that payment is due.

As per שולחן ערוך חושן משפט סימן רצ”א סעיף כ”ח this exemption applies to other types of שומרים as well, such as:

  • שומר שכר
  • שוכר

המפקיד אצל חבירו בין בחנם בין בשכר או השאילו או השכירו אם שאל השומר את הבעלים עם הדבר שלהם או שכרם הרי השומר פטור מכלום אפי' פשע בדבר ששמר ואבד מחמת הפשיעה הרי זה פטור שנאמר אם בעליו עמו לא ישלם בד"א כששאל הבעלים או שכרן בעת שנטל החפץ או שהיו שאולים או שכורים אצלו מקודם לכן כיון שהם עמו במלאכתו בשעה שנטל אע"פ שלא היו עמו במלאכתו בשעה שנאבד פטור אבל אם נטל החפץ ונעשה עליו שומר תחלה ואח"כ שכר הבעלים או שאלם אע"פ שהיו הבעלים עמו במלאכתו בעת שנאבד חייב:

Other than it being a גזירת הכתוב, do the Poskim bring any reasons behind this Halacha?

2 Answers 2

4

In no specific order

Sefer Hachinuch Mitzvah 60 says:

"ועל ענין שאלה בבעלים שפטור, נוכל לומר לפי הפשט, שהתורה לא חייבה השואל אחר שבעל הכלי או הבהמה עמו, דמכיון שהוא לשם ישמור הוא את שלו. ואף על פי שהשואל פטור אף לאחר שהלכו הבעלים, מכיון שהיו שם בשעת שאלה, אפשר לתרץ בזה שלא רצתה התורה לתת הדברים לשיעורין ולומר אם ישהו לשם הבעלים הרבה יהא פטור השואל ואם מעט יהא חייב, וציותה התורה דרך כלל דכל שהבעלים לשם בשעת שאלה יהא פטור".

"And about the matter that he is exempt if borrowing in the presence of the owners, we can say according to the simple understanding that the Torah did not make the borrower liable since the owner of the vessel or of the animal is with him — as since he is there, he will guard what is his. And even though the borrower is [still] exempt after the owners left [him], if they were there at the time of the borrowing — it is possible to answer about this that the Torah did not want to give different measures for its words and state that if the owners stay long, he will be exempt, but if [only] a little, he will be liable. [Instead,] the Torah commanded more generally that so long as the owners are there at the time of the borrowing, he will be exempt."

שואל ומשיב (מהדורא קמא, ח"א סי' רסה), וז"ל says:

"... הטעם דפטור שמירה בבעלים הוא משום דאין השמירה כ"כ חזקה על השומר שהרי גם הבעלים עמו. ולפ"ז כל שנגרע משמירתו בזה פטור אף מפשיעה ..."

"The reason for the exemption of guardianship in the case where the owner is present is because the guardianship is not considered as strong when the owner is with the guardian. According to this, whenever the guardian's level of care is reduced due to the owner's presence, he is exempt even in cases of negligence."

Torah Temimah Shemot 22 הערה קנג says:

"ואפשר לומר הסברא בזה משום דבכלל אי אפשר לאדם אחד שיהיה בעת ובעונה אחת משועבד ומשעבד, לאיש אחד, ובאופן כזה אין השעבוד שלו לזולתו שעבוד גמור, ולכן אם היו הבעלים שאולים להשואל שוב אי אפשר שישתעבד לו השואל אז, וממילא אין נפקא מינה בין נשאל לו הבעלים במלאכה זו או במלאכה אחרת, וגם מובן מה שהעיקר תלוי אם היה עמו בשעת שאלה, דאז עיקר חלות ההשתעבדות מצד השואל".

"And it is possible to say that the reasoning behind this is because, in general, it is impossible for one person to be simultaneously both a servant and a master to another person. In such a situation, the servitude of one to the other is not complete. Therefore, if the owners were borrowed by the borrower, it is no longer possible for the borrower to fully obligate them. Consequently, it makes no difference whether the owners were borrowed for this task or for another task. It also explains why the primary consideration is whether the owners were with the borrower at the time of the borrowing, since this is when the main obligation on the part of the borrower takes effect."

Ralbag Shemot Beur HaParashah 22:13-14 says:

מפני שבעליו היה תחת ידו בשעת שאלה, הנה לא יתכן שישתעבד לו אז בשמירת הבהמה, כי לא יהיה האדם עבד ואדון יחד לאיש אחד. ועוד, כי האדם כשעושה מלאכת אחר ייטב בעינו לההנות בעל המלאכה, כדי שייתן לו שכר המלאכות אשר לו, ולזה לא יחוש אם יקח כליו אע"פ שלא יקבל שמירתו".

"Since its owner was under his control at the time of the lending, it is not possible for him to be obligated in guarding the animal, for a person cannot be both a servant and a master to the same individual at the same time. Moreover, when a person is performing work for another, he would naturally want to benefit the one whose work he is doing, so that he may receive payment for his own labors. Therefore, he would not be concerned if he takes his tools, even if he does not accept responsibility for their safekeeping."

Shu"t Chavot Yair Siman 223 says:

לקרב קצת אל השכל, שהטעם שהשואל חייב משום שהבהמה ברשותו מזלו גרם, אך כאשר הבעלים במלאכתו של השואל, הוי המשאיל והשואל רשות אחת ואם כן אפשר שמזלו של המשאיל גרם

"To bring it a bit closer to understanding, the reason that the borrower is liable is because the animal is under his control, and it is his fortune that caused it. However, when the owner is working for the borrower, the lender and the borrower are considered as one entity, and therefore it is possible that the lender's fortune caused it."

עיין משך חכמה פרשת משפטים on that pasuk basically answers that when the owner is present, the borrower is seen as a renter, who has different (lesser) liabilities compared to a borrower.

Sources used:

  1. https://olamot.net/shiurim/%D7%A9%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%A8%D7%94-%D7%91%D7%91%D7%A2%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%9D/

  2. https://www.psakim.org/Psakim/File/938?highlight=

2

Among the Poskim, the Chavos Yair (end of Siman 223) in fact wonders about it and can't find a reason.

The Chinuch (mitzvah 60) says that it's just in order to create a uniform rule, rather than having to evaluate just how long the owner was there before the accident happened. The Torah makes it depend on his status when the object first entered the jurisdiction of the shomer, "as the procedure depends on the beginning of the matter."

Ralbag on the verse gives two reasons: (1) it's illogical that the shomer would be at the same time subject to the owner and the owner subject to him; (2) the owner would prefer to let the other person have full use of the object (whether for a fee or for an expected future favor in return) even without taking responsibility for it.

R. Samson Raphael Hirsch on the verse suggests that the shomer's responsibility for the object can't be greater than his responsibility for the person of its owner. If the owner himself were to be injured on the job, R. Hirsch comments (although I'm not sure of his source for this) that the employer would be exempt from payment, so likewise we can assume that when along with the owner he's going to be a shomer for his object, he's likewise not taking on any degree of responsibility unless otherwise specified.

On a deeper level, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l explains that this halachah symbolizes the point that if a Jew lives with a constant and visible awareness that G-d is with him, then if he slips up - even to the extent of פשיעה, carelessness - he must of course do teshuvah, but is exempt from punishment.

1
  • Shyoach @Meir! I like the Rebbe's explanation that you brought Commented Jun 2 at 20:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .