The Ramban (Baba Metzia 82b) proves that the rule of Adam muad L'olam bein B'oness bein b'ratzon (sanhedrin 72a), [freely translated: A human is always liable for damages, whether the damage was done unintentionally or intentionally, whether by unavoidable accident or whether it was done willingly.] is applicable even by Oness Gamur, (completely and toally unintentional), from the Gemara (Baba Kama 27a) which says "נפל מראש הגג ברוח שאינה מצויה והזיק חייב על הנזק -, If one fell from a roof due to an atypical wind, such that it could not have been anticipated in advance that he would fall, and while falling he caused damage, he is liable for the damage. (Tosfos disagrees with Ramban).

The Chelkas Yoav (vol.1:1) says that the reason why a katan (minor) is not punished for aveiros which he does is since he is unresponsible for his actions he is considered an oness (acting unwillingly).

If so, why, according to the Ramban, is a katan not liable for causing damages to others, according to the above ruling of the Ramban that even an oness gamur is liable?

  • Is your question about חלקת יואב or is general, because חלקת יואב is in minority here explaining that by אונס. A "deeper" explanation of the פטור is that a child lacks the דעת that's necessary for truly possessing things, even if he can hold possessions he doesn't truly "owns" it. THis remotely reminds of a married woman that is a subject to her husband's דעת and therefore (temporary) lacks the ownership of her possessions.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 21:52
  • @AlBerko 1- I used the CY because he calls the katan oness, which corresponds with the Gemara's "bein b'oness bein b'ratzon. 2- What does owning or not owning possessions have to do with being responsible for damages? Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 22:10
  • 2
    Have you evidence the CY rules like the Ramban?
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 3:42
  • @msh210 no, but I was wondering if the 2 can be reconciled. Also if we want to explain this by saying that the CY rules like Tosfos that oness gamur is not liable, then we have to go as far as to say that a katan is considered oness gamur . (seemingly even more than falling off a roof). That's quite a chiddush!. Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 7:46
  • @RibbisRabbiAndMore Bimechilas kavod Toraschah, I think your term oneis gommur is mistaken as user 15464 proves bellow.
    – yosefkorn
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 0:24

3 Answers 3


(I think this might be largely similar to David Kenner's answer, perhaps just expressed differently.)

There is a fundamental difference between an adult and a minor. An adult is a person who has responsibility for his actions while a minor is a person who does not have responsibility for his actions.

When it comes to determining if an adult is chayav in a particular case, there are various mitigating factors that we can look at which can potentially absolve him. One such factor is the concept of אונס. This is a way of saying that even though the person is responsible for his actions, there are certain things which free him of his responsibility.

For example, if a person locked up his sheep properly and it somehow got out and it damaged, the person is exempt because he fulfilled his responsibility by locking it up; the fact that it got out is considered "beyond his control".

Ramban's point is that when the damage is committed by the person himself, there is no such thing as "beyond his control". That is to say that there is nothing that can free him of his responsibility when it comes to his own self doing damage. The only thing that can get him out of being chayav in such a case is if the blame is shifted to another person. For example, as Ramban explains there, in the case where someone goes to sleep and someone else lies down next to him, the first person is exempt if he damages the second person while sleeping because the second person should not have laid down next to someone sleeping:

ומצאתי בתוס' בב"ק שמפרשים אותה משום אדם המזיק וא"כ למה פטרוהו לדברי האומר אנוס הוא והלא אדם מועד לעולם בין באונס בין ברצון והם השיבו שאינו חייב באונסין גדולים וסמכו אותה מן הירו' שאמרו בישן ובא חבירו וישן אצלו הוא המועד ואי אפשי להעמידה דהתם משום דשני פשע בעצמו

However, by a minor where he is not responsible for his actions in the first place, it is completely irrelevant whether something was beyond his control or not; even if it was not beyond his control he is still exempt because he is not responsible for his actions. In a sense, the difference can be described as follows: An adult can be put on trial and can argue that he has an excuse in a specific case, with the caveat (according to Ramban) that there are no excuses when the damage is committed with his own self. A minor can never be put on trial in the first place.

The fact that the Chelkas Yoav uses the term אנוס when referring to a minor is somehwhat of a red herring. As I explained in my answer to your other question about the Chelkas Yoav's view of אונס with regard to minors, he is using the term in a limited sense, to compare it to the case in the Torah where someone does not get punished for committing a sin. He is by no means using the term to increase a minor's level of obligation.


Rambam Choveil umazik 1:11, Rif and almost all rishonim on Bava kamma 26b quoting the Yerushalmi regarding what is considered oneis (that human damage would be liable to conpensate) :

במה דברים אמורים שהישן חייב לשלם בשנים שישנו כאחד ונתהפך אחד מהן והזיק את חבירו או קרע בגדו. אבל אם היה אחד ישן ובא אחר ושכב בצדו. זה שבא באחרונה הוא המועד ואם הזיקו הישן פטור

When is a person liable to damages when "not at fault" i.e oneis in a case when flailing in his sleep and whacking the fellow next to him? If he slept next to someone else sleeping and did damage. But he is not liable when flailing in his sleep if that person only went to sleep next to him after he was already asleep because the latter is responsible for putting himself in a position of damage i.e oneis gommur.

So too a person who is responsible should stay away from a child who is not responsible for his/her actions just as he should not station himself next to a sleeping person. This is stated explicitely Bava Kama 87a:

חֵרֵשׁ, שׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן, פְּגִיעָתָן רָעָה. הַחוֹבֵל בָּהֶן חַיָּב, וְהֵם שֶׁחָבְלוּ בַּאֲחֵרִים פְּטוּרִין
A deaf and mute ,an imbecile and a child, one should avoid meeting as meeting them is of a bad consequence. One who damages them is liable, but if they damage someone they are exempt from paying.

The Ramban says don't stand on a roof without a fence. So one who does is not oneis Gammur because a responsible person should anticipate that any wind that pushes him off even unlikely as hurricane could make him fall off and damage someone else when there is no fence. He is oneis which means he has to pay regarding human damage.

But the Ramban agrees that were he utterly helpless like when he damaged someone who slept next to him (after he'd fallen asleep), he is not liable to pay for any damage as he is an Oneis Gammur. Simalarly A child, imbecile and a deaf mute, are not accountable and their actions are like those sleeping without control (i.e the child has no mitzvos to keep to stop him damaging others).

  • 1
    This is precisely the Tosafos that the Ramban is disagreeing with. Tosafos quotes the Yerushalmi as proof that an אונס גמור is exempt, and the Ramban says that the reason the person is exempt in that case is not that it's an אונס, but that the second guy was negligent: ומצאתי בתוס' בב"ק שמפרשים אותה משום אדם המזיק וא"כ למה פטרוהו לדברי האומר אנוס הוא והלא אדם מועד לעולם בין באונס בין ברצון והם השיבו שאינו חייב באונסין גדולים וסמכו אותה מן הירו' שאמרו בישן ובא חבירו וישן אצלו הוא המועד ואי אפשי להעמידה דהתם משום דשני פשע בעצמו
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 16:27
  • @Alex you sound confused between a given that someone who is faultless cannot be accountable, and a comparison which tosfos makes and the Rambam's does not about the guy blown of the roof. Reread the answer I have made it clearer
    – yosefkorn
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 0:08

This seems ultimately logical to me from studying the matter. I have no source right now. :

A person has two levels we are looking at.

1) If the person can be responsible for anything in the first place? 2) Once responsibility is possible, then to what extent?

Adults are capable of responsibility being placed upon them. They must then be assigned a level of culpability (accident, total accident, premeditated, etc.) depending on the situation (like sin, or damages etc.)

Minors are not capable of having any responsibility placed upon them.

Therefore, any further discussion of "accident vs intentional" is completely irrelevant.

We might be dismayed at the Ramban claiming an adult is obligated to pay even when it is a complete accident. However, that has no follow up bearing upon minors, who could never be responsible for anything at all. The logical proof may be seen by the case of a minor who certainly intends to do harm and causes direct damage... he is exempt from any and all payments. Why? Because he has nothing to do with any responsibility for his actions, period.

But, an adult, who does have an initial concept of responsibility placed upon him, is now subject to questions of responsibility for onus.

The Chelkas Yoav, is comparing a minor's trangressing a sin willingly, to an adult's sin when "compelled". He does not compare to the case of "damages" at all. Paying a damage is a question of financial responsibility. That is something a minor has no connection to. An adult's sin is a function of his intent, not only a function of his responsibility. An adult's damages are purely a function of responsibility, not intent. (generally)

I hope this helps. :)

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