Halacha dictates that if someone were to dig a huge hole in the middle of the street and a car fell into it, he would not be responsible to pay for the damage to the car. The language of the Talmud Bavli is "בור פטור מכלים". My question is: Why is this so?

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    Are you asking why the halacha is what it is? If I recall, a d'rasha is learned from "שור וחמור" in the Torah's description of bor. Or maybe you're asking why a car fits into the category of keilim?
    – jake
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 22:14
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    (tacking on to @jake's comment) ... or maybe you're familiar with the d'rasha but want an explanation of why God decided to exempt pit-diggers from damages for kelim?
    – msh210
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 22:28
  • bingo msh210 you are right that is my question Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 22:54
  • A car is really more like a Shor than a Kli... Kelim don't move, and don't move fast. Cars are also used to replace Donkey's etc... very curious why its considered a kli.
    – avi
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 7:07
  • A car does not have the qualities of a shor NO Ruach Chaim: A living spirit it is a widespread error but an error non The less Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 7:48

1 Answer 1


Aruch Hashulchan (CM 410:26) speculates the reason why the ditch-digger is not responsible for kelim as follows:

Kelim, in general, do not move unless a person or an animal is moving them. We expect a person to be paying enough attention where he is walking not to fall into the ditch, especially when he is carrying stuff (which is why the digger is also not responsible for human injuries). When an animal is carrying the kelim, we would expect it to be accompanied by its owner, who should again be paying enough attention to his possessions not to let the animal fall into the bor with his kelim.

Apparently, though, when an animal falls into the bor, the digger is responsible for damages to the animal itself, since when an animal is not carrying kelim, the owner is not as interested in looking after its safety. (Why, then, is the digger responsible for damages to the animal even if it was carrying kelim? Perhaps the Torah is not willing to differentiate to such a degree.)

I would imagine that a car is classified as a kli. It does not have a mind of its own like an animal. It requires a person to control (move) it. Under the Aruch Hashulchan's reasoning then, when a person is driving a car, he is expected to be paying attention to the road in front of him enough not to drive into a ditch. Therefore, the digger is not responsible for the damages to the car.

  • Thanks alot jake I did not believe an answer existed Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 2:49
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    Nowadays, if the Sanhedrin was around, they would need to enact many takkanos in monetary law. They were given very wide powers in such matters to deal with different circumstances.
    – Ariel K
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 4:09

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