In essence, the idea is this:
If a person does one act, and with that one act incurs two different kinds of penalties, we only apply the stricter one. So if a person (for example) borrows a cow and then slaughters it on Shabbos, he incurs two penalties: monetary restitution to the owner of the cow, and the death penalty for violating Shabbos. In this case, Beis Din only applies the stricter punishment, death, and the lesser one, the money, is waived.
Again, there are other details and complexities, but this is the general idea.

Can anybody give me a logical explanation for this concept? I don't think the transgressor could care less about the fine when he's dealing with the death penalty.

  • 3
    "Can anybody give me a logical explanation for this concept? I don't think the transgressor could care less about the fine when he's dealing with the death penalty." Did you just answer your own question?
    – jake
    Jun 29, 2012 at 4:21
  • @jake Interesting position. I would't say that the Beit Din does't care about the lesser?
    – henryaaron
    Jun 29, 2012 at 4:26
  • 1
    Well if Beis Din is concerned with a deterrent, then wouldn't it make sense that they are only concerned with what the transgressor is concerned with? BTW I don't really know why we're talking about Beis Din. While it's true that they mete out penalties, the rule of KLBM is derived from the Torah with drashos (e.g. 'im lo yihyeh ason'); it isn't really BD's decision.
    – Dov F
    Jun 29, 2012 at 4:32
  • 1
    @DovF Because we are responsible for our actions. When we die and go to שמים, we’re evaluated and questioned and punished and this law isn’t in effect in שמים so why do we have it here? I believe if somebody deserves a punishment, he or she should get it no matter how many there are...
    – henryaaron
    Jun 29, 2012 at 4:38
  • 1
    @DovF I understand and I respect that, but I disagree. Nobody ever said punishments was a precise word.
    – henryaaron
    Jun 29, 2012 at 5:48

5 Answers 5


There are a number of ways of understanding קם ליה בדרבה מיניה. There are actually different opinions that are presented and explained.

A very simple and straightforward way to understand it is as follows:

It's not that we only give the person 1 punishment for 1 act, and not 2 punishments for 1 act. Because then the question is "why not?". If a person stole on Shabbos and he did it in 1 act, why should he only be חייב מיתה for being מחלל שבת and not have to pay for the stolen item.

Rather, we say that we only see the more severe עבירה and therefore naturally he will only receive 1 punishment.

A simple way of demonstrating this logic is to use the example of a person killing another person by stabbing him in his heart. We won't say "he ripped his shirt and killed him". One may say that's an absurd statement. Rather all we say is "he killed him" and therefore naturally he only receives 1 punishment.

In other words, if we saw 2 עבירות there would absolutely be 2 punishments even if it's all in 1 act. But in such cases we only see 1 עבירה and therefore naturally there is only 1 punishment.

There is a תוספות in בבא קמא that discusses this. ריב"א says there that we DO find 2 punishments in a case where a person's ox that's a מועד to kill. If he killed another person, both the ox is killed and the owner must pay כופר. This is because we only see 1 עבירה and that 1 עבירה has 2 punishments. So we see that a person is able to receive 2 punishments for 1 act, but only when it's 1 עבירה, but not when it's 2 עבירות.

This is my first time on this site. I was looking for something and it came up right on top.

Best to all

  • I dont think the question was about the mechanics of קם ליה, but about the motivation for it.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 4, 2016 at 0:00

There are also practical ramifications - if he is liable to the damages, that liability would then attach itself to any relevant possessions he passes down to his inheritors, who would then be liable to pay the debt off.

There are a number of gemarot which discuss cases where application of Kim le mideraba mineh makes a difference at least a few of which are in mesechet makkot - if I find them I'll try post them here.


I have heard an explanation that the more stringent punishment is like The sword of Damocles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democles_sword

  • 6
    To improve your answer, perhaps you should consider elaborating on the connection between this and the Sword of Damocles.
    – HodofHod
    Jun 29, 2012 at 16:44

העניין הוא לא מה אכפת לגנב אלא מצד הדין - האם היורשים שלו יצטרכו לשלם? מחדשת הגמרא שלא, כי יש לנו דין שמקבל רק את העונש החמור.

  • Translation: The issue is not whether [adding the lesser punishment] would make any difference to the thief. [The question is] rather a matter of the law: Are his heirs required to pay? The Talmud presents a novel ruling that they are not, for we have a law that he receives only the more severe punishment.
    – Fred
    Aug 4, 2016 at 20:31

There is a machlokess between the geonim and the Rambam if onshei beis din are part of taryag mitzvos.

According to the geonim they are not because they are part of the tachlis schar veonesh of the Torah which includes olam habah etc.

According to the Rambam they are because the mitzva is on beis din to control society.

The understanding of KLBM would seem to change between these opinions.

If onshei beis din are part of the tachlis schar veonesh of the Torah, KLBM means Hashem will only attend to one onesh at a time.

If onshei beis din are to be magdir society, KLBM means beis din consider the more severe breach in societal norms only.

You must log in to answer this question.

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