י״ח באב ה׳תשע״ו (August 22, 2016)

Bava Kamma 83a-b: Calculating Compensation

The eighth perek of Massekhet Bava Kamma Perek ha-Hovel – focuses on damage done by a person to another person. The first Mishna teaches that there are five categories of payments that may be applied to situations where a person injures his fellow:

  1. Nezek – permanent damage done to another person that lowers his intrinsic value
  2. Tza’ar – payment made for pain and suffering
  3. Ripuy – health costs related to his recovery
  4. Shevet – loss of wages during the time that the person recovers
  5. Boshet – payment made for embarrassment

These payments are not made in every case; sometimes all payments apply, in other cases only some of them do.

The Mishna explains how the value of each of these components is established. To determine the value of nezek, for example, the Mishna teaches that whatever permanent injury was done – the loss of a limb, of eyesight, etc. – we evaluate what the person’s value would be in the slave market with and without the injury, and pay the difference. Rashi explains that this is the true value of the injury, since if the individual ever needed to sell himself as a slave, this is the amount that he has lost due to the injury. The rishonim explain further, that this method takes into account all of the different variables in establishing the claim – the individual’s health, his age, his professional abilities, and so forth, since these are what make up the value of a slave in the marketplace.

From Rashi it appears that the “sale” being discussed would be selling this person as an  whose servitude is limited to a period of six years. According to the Rosh we must evaluate his worth for a lifetime, and so we place him in the imaginary marketplace as an eved kena’ani – a non-Jewish slave who is sold for life, which appears to be the simple understanding of the Gemara.

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