Sunday, September 25, 2005

Wanna know what I'm buying, Ringo?

Now I'm finally catching up on blogging Makkot!

Last fortnight we learned 2b-3a. In Exodus 21:29-30, the Torah says that if an ox kills someone (when the ox has done so on the past, so the owner should have known to keep the ox under lock and key), the owner is responsible for criminally negligent homicide, and is put to death. However, the owner might be given the opportunity to pay a ransom (kofer) and stay alive.

In a baraita on 2b, we learn that an eid zomeim may not pay this kofer. E.g., if Homer testifies falsely that Ned's ox killed Lenny (such that Ned would be sentenced to death), and then Homer's testimony is invalidated, Homer doesn't get the opportunity to pay a kofer for his life (even though Ned would, if his conviction were to stand).


The Gemara places this baraita into the larger debate about the nature of the kofer. A baraita from Bava Kamma brings two opinions about the amount of the kofer. Insofar as it is possible to place a monetary value on a human life, one opinion is that Ned (if convicted of letting his ox kill Lenny) would pay the value of Lenny's life, and another is that Ned would pay the value of his own life. The Gemara suggests that the first opinion believes that the kofer is monetary damages for wrongful death (so Ned is compensating Lenny's heirs for the loss of their beloved), while the second opinion believes that the kofer is kapparah: some sort of metaphysical atonement to restore balance to the Force (so Ned is buying back his own life, a la the concluding scene of Pulp Fiction). Rav Papa rejects this dichotomy: he says that "the whole world" agrees about the essence of the kofer (it's kapparah), and it's just a difference of opinion about how it gets calculated. So the baraita here in Makkot is also of the opinion that kofer is kapparah, and because Homer doesn't have any deaths (real ones, not attempted ones) to atone for (since he had no responsibility for Lenny's death), he doesn't get this opportunity for kapparah.

Exodus 22:2 says that a thief shall make restitution, and if the thief has nothing to pay back, then s/he will be sold into slavery instead. The baraita goes on to teach that if Homer frames Ned for theft (such that Ned would have to be sold), Homer doesn't get sold for this. Rav Hamnuna (after some adjustments) interprets this to mean that if either Homer or Ned owns any property, then Homer doesn't get sold, but if neither of them owns property, then he does. (If Homer doesn't have property and Ned does, then Homer doesn't get sold, since he wouldn't have caused Ned to be sold. If Homer has property and Ned doesn't, then Homer doesn't get sold, since that's only for people who have nothing.) Rava disagrees and says that being sold is only for actual thieves, not for those who frame others as thieves.

Rabbi Akiva says that if Homer frames Ned and then turns himself in (rather than being invalidated by other witnesses who say "You couldn't have been there to see Ned commit that crime - you were with us at Moe's!"), then he's not subject to the usual penalties for edim zomemin. All you perjurers out there, listen up! It's not too late!

No comments:

Post a Comment