Suppose you ask someone to use something that belongs to you, so that you can benefit from their use of it. For example, you (voluntarily) give a camera to someone you know to take a picture (of you). He drops it, causing damage.

Should he pay for all/ half/ none of the damages he (accidentally) caused? Do you have any standing to demand payment?

The damage would not have happened if device owner did not ask the other person to use it to benefit the owner.

What does the Jewish law say? Philosophically, what is the right thing to do from the standpoint of the person who owns the camera and from the standpoint of the person who caused the damage?

1 Answer 1


New answer:

This is clearly a case of a Shomer-Chinam; asking somebody to safeguard your item without being paid for it.

The Halacha is that a Shomer-Chinam is not responsible for any damages unless the damage was caused by his negligence.

So if the camera dropped because he balanced it on his head, for example, then he would be expected to pay for the damage. but if the camera slipped out of his hand, then he has no obligation to pay.

Old answer:

IIRC in Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat - ש"ו הלכות אומנים - it's mentioned that a worker is free of all liability if the employer is present.

A few Simanim before that we learn that even somebody who borrows or hires an article is free of all liability if the owner is present.

It would seem that unless the camera was broken on purpose, you have no Halachic right to demand any retribution.

  • I don't think that's what that rule means. בעליו עמו means if I guard, rent or borrow an object from someone who is currently employed by me then I am exempt from damages to that object not directly caused by me even if the original owner later stops being employed by me. Physical proximity is irrelevant.
    – Double AA
    Apr 9, 2013 at 16:26
  • @DoubleAA - I added a more relevant answer. I left the old one so that your comment is in context. Apr 11, 2013 at 8:24

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