כ״ה באב ה׳תשע״ו (August 29, 2016)

Bava Kamma 90a-b: When One Strikes Another

The Mishna on our daf rules: “Ha-toke’a la-havero noten lo sela – if someone hits his friend, and he remains uninjured, he is obligated to pay him a sela,” because of the embarrassment that he caused. Rabbi Yehuda quotes Rabbi Yossi haGalili as requiring payment of a maneh.

The definition of toke’a is a matter of some dispute. While Rashi says that it means he hit him on his ear, others suggest that he hit him on his neck with his fist, that he shouted in his ear, or even that he did not touch him at all, rather he clapped his hands together in a derogatory manner towards his friend. The payment of a sela or a maneh is understood by Rashi (above on daf 36b) as a standard payment for embarrassment, but if any injury occurred, that would be evaluated and paid for separately. Others suggest that it covers pain and suffering – tza’ar – as well. The Rambam rules that the payment of a sela or a maneh includes all damages, since the Mishna is discussing a case where the main damage that was done was the embarrassment.

The Gemara’s first concern is the type of maneh that is required for payment – is it kesef tzuri or kesef medinah?

Generally speaking, during the time of the Talmud there were two types of coins. Matbe’ah tzuri was a silver-based coin that was viewed as being biblical money. Kesef medinah were coins that had the same names as the more valuable matbe’ah tzuri, but were made of cheaper metals and were worth one-eighth the value of kesef tzuri. Different values for coins with identical names were not uncommon in the ancient world and this phenomenon still exists in some places today, where paper money may have the same name as a gold coin, for example, but is worth significantly less. It is therefore essential to determine which coin is being discussed.

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