כ״ו בכסלו ה׳תשע״ז (December 26, 2016)

Bava Metzia 91a-b: Double Transgression, Double Punishment

Our Gemara quotes a baraita that teaches that if someone is threshing grain with his friend’s animal and he muzzles the animal so that it will not eat, the person will be held responsible on two different levels –

  1. He will be liable to receive lashes for transgressing the biblical prohibition against muzzling an animal while it is working (see Devarim 25:4), and

2. He will be obligated to pay the owner the amount of money for feed that the animal would have eaten during that time.

The Gemara objects to this ruling, arguing that it negates a well-known axiom of Jewish law kim lei be-derabah minei. Kim lei be-derabah minei means that it is enough for a person to receive the more severe punishment. If a person commits an act for which he is liable to receive two separate punishments, Jewish law will only allow him to be punished once, i.e. he will receive the more severe of the two punishments and be freed of the lesser punishment. Thus, if a person performs an act for which he would receive both capital punishment and lashes, he will not receive the lashes, as the capital punishment suffices as punishment for this act. Similarly, once a person receives lashes, he will not have to pay.

Several explanations are offered in response to this question. Abaye simply suggests that this follows the opinion of Rabbi Meir who rules that a person can receive both malkot (lashes) and be required to pay. According to Rav Pappa in our case the two obligations take effect at different times. From the moment that the farmer accepted the animal to use for threshing he became obligated to feed the animal; he did not become liable to receive lashes until he muzzled the animal.

Previous
Next