Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Bava Kamma 2

Today the daf yomi cycle began its study of Seder Nezikin (probably best translated as the tort laws). However, before getting into Bava Kamma, I would like to first say over a quick vort which I heard last night at a siyum on Seder Nashim.

During the siyum, R' Dovid Spiegel said a vort in the name of the Vilna Gaon on the word Siyum. The letters of this word are all letters whose extensions are equal to the principle number. Samech is spelled Samech (60) Mem, Cuf (40 +20). Yud is spelled Yud (10) Vuv, Daled (6+4). Vuv is spelled Vuv (6) Vuv(6) and Mem is spelled Mem (40) Mem (40). R' Spiegel related that the nigla (revealed) portion of the letters is equal to the nistar (hidden) portion of the letters.

R' Spiegel then said that when making our siyum, our spouses who have stood in the background and supported us in the learning efforts get credit for our learning as well. I certainly owe my wife for my 11+ years of Daf Yomi. Besides letting me learn out five nights a week, she also was there to remind me that I needed to the daily daf when I was coming home routinely after 11 PM earlier in the my legal career. To this I say, the reward is yours too.

But on to Bava Kamma. One interesting point which I wanted to discuss is a Rashi which explains the concept of Keren (horn), one of the Avos Nezikin. The gemara quotes a number of pesukim which support the concept that keren is one of the Avos Nezikin. The gemara asks on 2b, why do we even need pesukim - isn't it obvious that an ox which gores is a category of Nezikin? The gemara answers that the pesukim are there to teach that the difference in financial penalties for damage caused by an ox which is tam (1/2 nezek) or mu'ad (full nezek) is applicable, regardless of whether the ox gored with an attached or a detached horn.

But how does an ox gore with a detached horn? Rashi (d'h Ella) explains that the case of detached horn involves an ox which picks up the detached horn in its teeth and uses that horn to gore. I might have thought that only in such a situation would there be a difference between tam and mu'ad (but not where an ox gores with its attached horns). Therefore the gemara uses the pesukim to teach that the varying degrees of penalty apply in both scenarios.

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