Sunday, 26 June 2016

Bava Kamma 25: Kal V'Chomer; Natural Consequences

A brief blog today on just one part of our daf.  The rabbis consider the principle of kal v'chomer,  light and heavy.  This is also known as 'din', or foregone conclusion.  Kal v'chomer refers to the assumption that something greater exists because something lesser exists.  For example, if a person can lift 200 pounds, s/he can lift 150 pounds.

This concept is used to further our understanding of the laws about damages done by oxen in the private and/or the public domain. The rabbis compare the punishment for damages with Miram's punishment for speaking ill of her brother Moshe.  She was sent from the community for seven days, because she was stricken with tzora'at.   Our notes teach that G-d banished her for seven days, but that otherwise she would have been embarrassed by her father for seven days.  

The notion of being ostracized physically as a punishment is a particularly interesting concept to me. The holiday of Yom Kipur suggests that a person who does not participate with their community is going to die.   What does it mean to be written in G-d's book of death?  Does it mean that we will physically die?  Or will we spiritually die; losing our connection with G-d when we do not practice the rituals that we are supposed to practice?  Or will we die because we have cut ourselves out of our communities?  Have we punished and ostracized ourselves?

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