כ״ט בניסן ה׳תשע״ז (April 25, 2017)

Bava Batra 93a-b: Liability and Compensation

What level of responsibility does a supplier have if his failure to supply the item that was ordered leads to other losses or difficulties?

Our Gemara quotes a baraita that discusses a case where a farmer brings grain to the miller, who does not soften them properly and poor quality flour is produced. Or flour to a baker who bakes poor quality bread, or an animal to be slaughtered and the shoḥet kills it improperly so it is not kosher. In all of these cases the Tanna Kamma rules that the craftsman who is paid for his work is held responsible to make up the loss. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel goes further, and requires the craftsman to also pay for the embarrassment that is suffered if the person was relying on this food for a public affair. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel offers two other examples of a “great tradition in Jerusalem” that took into consideration the embarrassment of others:

  1. Someone who agreed to cater a festive meal for his friend will have to pay for his embarrassment if the meal is not prepared as promised.
  2. A cloth was spread out at the entrance to festivities, and people knew that as long as the cloth was there they were welcome to join the party, but when it was removed, they did not come in.

The Maharsha explains that Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel brought these cases to show that in Jerusalem the concern for the feelings of others was so great that even when someone was not being paid for his participation, if he caused embarrassment to his friend it was accepted practice for him to pay for what he did.

The final story relates to a situation where someone was making a wedding or some other large party, and did not invite a specific number of guests. When the food ran out, a signal was arranged with the cloth so that people would know that there was no more food, and they would refrain from coming in to eat – although they may still come in to offer their good wishes to the celebrants.

Previous
Next