By Rabbi Alexander London
BAVA KAMMA 27b
The Mishna states: If one places a jug in a public thoroughfare and another person stumbles over the jug and breaks it, that person is not liable to pay for the damage. If the person was damaged by the jug, the owner of the jug is liable for those damages.
The Gemara asks: Why is the person who stumbles over the jug and breaks it not liable for the damage? He should have watched where he was going!
Tosafos says that the Gemara did not ask, Why, if the person was damaged by the jug, is the owner of the jug liable for these damages? Here also, the fact that the person should have watched where he was going should absolve the owner of the jug from responsibility! Tosafos explains that there is a principle in Jewish law: One bears greater responsibility to ensure that he does not damage, than he does to ensure that he is not damaged.
The Nesivos (126:6) discusses a case where Reuven had deposited an article by Shimon. Reuven mistakenly told Shimon that the article actually belonged to Shimon. Shimon, forgetting that the object really belonged to Reuven, gave the object to a gentile. The Nesivos rules that Shimon must pay for the item. Although both Reuven and Shimon erred, Shimon bears responsibility. This is because of the principle that Tosafos stated: One bears greater responsibility to ensure that he does not damage, than he does to ensure that he is not damaged.
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