In http://halakhah.com/babakamma/babakamma_80.html

Our Rabbis taught: There was once a certain pious person who suffered with his heart, and the doctors on being consulted said that there was no remedy for him unless he sucked warm milk every morning. A goat was therefore brought to him and fastened to the legs of the bed, and he sucked from it every morning. After some days his colleagues came to visit him, but as soon as they noticed the goat fastened to the legs of the bed they turned back and said: 'An armed robber (footnote) is in the house of this man, how can we come in to [see] him?' They thereupon sat down and inquired into his conduct, but they did not find any fault in him except this sin about the goat. He also at the time of his death proclaimed: 'I know that no sin can be imputed to me save that of the goat, when I transgressed against the words of my colleagues.'

The explanation provided by the footnote is puzzling to me

As a goat is prone to pasture anywhere and thus spoil the crops of the public.

Wouldn't this reasoning hold for many animals, also, how is it warranted to suspect a pious man at the time of his sickness that he is a robber w/o any proof or witnesses (he seems to confess the sin at the time of death, but that still does not resolve it for me suspecting him at the prior time)

  • Did you see the Mishna this Gemara is commenting on? (on the previous page, 79b)
    – Double AA
    Dec 7 '16 at 16:03
  • @DoubleAA I did not.
    – Daniel
    Dec 8 '16 at 20:10

The rabbis enacted that it is forbidden to raise small livestock in Israel. This man is upset that by virtue of his goat, he is violating this prohibition. Because it is pekuach nefesh, he is surely exempt, but is upset nonetheless.

  • Citing a source for your first sentence would improve the answer IMO. (See also DoubleAA's comment on the question.)
    – msh210
    Dec 8 '16 at 4:58

The footnote, as @DoubleAA states, is related to the halachah outlined in the mishna on the preceding Daf. There it is established that keeping that goat would be a sin mi d'rabban, the discussion about the chassid is a continuation of that piece of mishna.

I came across a very intesting answer to your question from Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim, who wrote the following about this specific case on their website dafyomi.co.il


QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which relates an incident about "a certain Chasid" who became ill, whom the doctors told that the only thing for him to do was to drink raw milk of a goat every morning. They brought him a goat, which he tied to the legs of his bed in order to prevent it from grazing outside so that he not transgress the prohibition against raising a Behemah Dakah in Eretz Yisrael. Nevertheless, when his friends saw that he had a goat in his home, they abstained from visiting him and they called him a robber. The Beraisa relates that this Chasid had performed no other sin in his life.

Why did his friends accuse of him of sinning? The Gemara in Sanhedrin (74a) teaches that when a person's life is in danger he is permitted to transgress an Isur in order to save his life (except for the three Isurim of Shefichas Damim, Giluy Arayos, and Avodah Zarah). Hence, he was permitted to keep the Behemah Dakah in order to save his life. What sin did he commit?


(a) The TORAS CHAIM in Eruvin (21b, DH Mutav) answers based on the opinion of the ROSH and the TUR (YD 157) who rule that if a person wants to conduct himself stringently and allow himself be killed in order to avoid a transgression, he is permitted to do so. This Chasid was on such a lofty level of Avodas Hash-m that the act of keeping a Behemah Dakah in his home, instead of giving up his life, was considered a sin. (This is also the view of the RAMBAN in Kesuvos (19a), who writes that it is a "Midas Chasidus" to let oneself be killed and not transgress an Aveirah. Accordingly, this act was considered a sin according to the great degree of Chasidus of Rebbi Yehudah ben Bava.)

(b) The Toras Chaim also explains the Gemara according to the view of the RAMBAM. The Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei ha'Torah 5:1) rules that one is not permitted to be stringent and let himself be killed instead of doing a sin. The Rambam writes that one who lets himself be killed instead of doing a sin is "Mischayev b'Nafsho" ("guilty for his life"). Why, then, was the Chasid's act of keeping a Behemah Dakah called a sin?

The Toras Chaim explains that although the Chasid had no way to cure himself other than by drinking the milk of a goat each morning, nevertheless he would not have died without the milk. His condition of "Gone'ach mi'Libo" would have persisted.

The MAHARSHA (Chidushei Agados) also suggests this answer.

RAV BETZALEL RENSBURG (in Hagahos) questions this approach. The Gemara in Kesuvos (60a) teaches that a sick person is permitted to drink the milk of a goat on Shabbos, because even though milking a goat on Shabbos is an Isur d'Rabanan (Mefarek kel'Achar Yad), nevertheless "in a situation of pain, the Rabanan did not prohibit it." Here, too, the Chasid was in pain, and since the prohibition against keeping a Behemah Dakah is only an Isur d'Rabanan, "in a situation of pain, the Rabanan did not prohibit it"!

This question may be answered with the words of the ME'IRI. The Me'iri explains that in a case in which the Isur d'Rabanan involves an enactment made to prevent loss to other people, one must be exceedingly stringent. Although the Me'iri himself maintains that the Chasid should have given his life and not transgressed the Isur d'Rabanan (since keeping a goat in one's home is a potential source of damage for others), and the Maharsha maintains that the Chasid's life was not in danger, nevertheless the Me'iri's explanation that this Isur d'Rabanan is an especially stringent one suffices to explain the difference between the case in the Gemara in Shabbos, where the sick person is allowed to perform the Isur d'Rabanan, and the case here, where keeping a goat in one's home is considered a sin.

I've included the entire text of the question and answer here, including a link to the website and this article. I hope this falls under fair use.

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