י״ז באלול ה׳תשע״ו (September 20, 2016)

Bava Kamma 112a-b: Inheriting a Borrowed Cow

While discussing the level of responsibility that children have regarding returning an object that their father stole, the Gemara turns its attention to other responsibilities that children may inherit from their father regarding things that belong to others. Rava teaches that if the father passes away and he has in his possession an animal that he has borrowed, the children can continue to use the animal for the duration of the agreed upon period. If the animal dies, they are not obligated to repay the owner, even though as a sho’el – a borrower – their father would have been responsible for any accidents that took place.

The Ra’avad explains that the children can continue to use the animal, since they inherit all of their father’s rights, including the right to use this borrowed animal. Thus the owner of the animal cannot take it back before the agreed upon date. Nevertheless, since they did not agree to the terms of the she’elah, they did not accept upon themselves any obligation regarding accidents. At the same time, the Ra’avad and Rashba agree that the children will be responsible if the animal was lost or stolen, since they must have the status of a shomer sakhar – someone who is paid to guard an object – since they are getting “payment” inasmuch as they are using the animal.

Some rishonim suggest that Rava’s ruling applies only if the children did not actually use the animal; once they do make use of the animal all of the rules of sho’el will apply to them since they have implicitly agreed to be borrowers. The Ra’avad disagrees since he believes that the responsibilities of a sho’el only come into play if the borrower agrees to them, and not merely as a consequence of his use of the borrowed animal.

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