Va’eira 5773: A real fire ball

Taste of Talmud and Halacha

There is a fundamental Machlokes between Rabbi Yochanan and Raish Lakish how to deal with the liabilities of a person who was irresponsible with a fire.  Rabbi Yochanan is of the opinion that your fire is like your arrow, “Aisho Mishum Chitzo.”  When you shoot an arrow, you are responsible for all five categories of damages; (as listed in Vol. 3 Issue. 12) so too with your fire.  Raish Lakish however, is of the opinion that your fire is like your ox.  It is your property and you must pay for damages that any one of your possessions caused due to your negligence.  The Halacha is in accordance with Rabbi Yochanan (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, 418:17).  There is yet another Machlokes between Rabbi Yochanan and Raish Lakish with regard to damages with fire.  What is the Halacha if an adult would give a child a burning torch to transport and the child burns down the neighbor’s tree in the process?  Is the adult responsible because it was his fire or do we say no, he did not shoot it like an arrow so he is exempt?  Rabbi Yochanan says he is exempt. Raish Lakish, however, is of the opinion that the adult is obligated. Rashi comments that this is in accordance with their opinions about the fundamental designation of the damages of fire.  According to Raish Lakish the adult is obligated because giving a fire to a child does not constitute proper stewardship of his possession.  In this case the Halacha is seemingly in accordance with Raish Lakish (Choshen Mishpat, 418:6).  If Rashi is correct that the two laws are intertwined, why is it that we are not consistent in deciding the Halacha?  There are two approaches we could use to answer this question.  A) The two Halachos are not intertwined.  We see this from Tosafos. Tosafos (Bava Kamma 9b) says that the Halacha in the case of the child is not based on the designation of “Aisho Mishum Chitzo”.  In that case the argument is solely about the trustworthiness of a child to handle fire properly.  Rabbi Yochanan is assuming that a child could be trusted to transport a controlled fire without fanning it into a damaging ball of fire.  In this aspect, Halacha does not follow his opinion.   B) We could say that although a fire is considered to be your arrow, this is only when you created it as such from its inception.  When you have a controlled fire, he is of the opinion that it is now considered to be your property and you are held accountable for its damages; but, not for the extra 4 damages that an adult is responsible for when he damages someone with his body.   Therefore Rabbi Yochanan really agrees that there is an obligation in the case of the child as the Halacha concludes, just not in the same way as when he throws a fire ball (G-d forbid).

Taste of Parasha

It was not your everyday hail!  It was more like a fire-ball, but worse.  It was a fire-ball loaded inside hail!  It was Barad, the seventh plague.  Our sages refer to this plague as a miracle within a miracle.  There was another aspect to this miracle that bears mentioning.  With all of its might and fury, this hail storm did not rain down upon the Jews!  Although they lived side by side with the Egyptians, over the Jewish neighborhood of Goshen there was a clear blue sunny sky.  The Alter of Slabodka sees in this a clear indication and verification of a very important concept.  Dovid Hamelech says in Tehilim, “Hamichadesh Bi’Tuvo Bchol Yom Tamid.”  This means that the every single day G-d creates the world and makes it new.  When you wake up one day and you see a clear blue sky do you think that it is there because G-d created it 5773 years ago?  The Jews in Egypt came to the realization that every day the existence of the world is up in the air (literally).  Will fire and ice mix today? Will there be a clear blue sky? Will the water in the river be drinkable?  Only if G-d so creates it to be so today.  Every day G-d creates the world the way he desires it to exist on that day.  How will this affect the way you pray?  Everything is up in the air, every day. We need to pray for all of the phenomenon which we take for granted.  We can pray for major changes.   This is true because G-d is creating the world, now!

Have A Great Shabbos!!

About tasteofyeshiva

RABBI YAIR FRIEDMAN teaches at The Torah School of Greater Washington, and Yeshiva L' Baalei Batim. He is the owner and director of Camp Gevaldig LLC.
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