Swearing is a serious matter because swearing falsely is a serious transgression, so if things can be settled without swearing the talmud generally prefers to do so, from what I've seen.
Holding the garment, and riding or leading the animal, is significant because ownership is staked by physical means. You can't call "dibs" on a found cloak just by seeing it, for example; you have to pick it up. In the case of something you can't pick up (like a donkey), you have to move it a certain distance. Riding and leading are both ways to do that.
(Today's daf is 3.)
A man in a helicopter has become lost in a heavy fog. He finds an office building and pulls up alongside a window. He leans out and asks the person inside "where am I?" (Yeah I know; office-building windows usually can't be opened. Work with me here.) The person inside says "you're in a helicopter 500 feet in the air". With this information the pilot is able to proceed directly to his invisible destination. When asked how that answer helped, he said "I got an answer that was completely true and utterly useless, so I knew I was outside the Microsoft customer-support building".
Me: Thanks, but that doesn't tell me how to recover from where I am. I plugged new mac into ethernet (old was already), booted, & followed prompt to start migrating. It ignored ethernet & used wifi. Looking at 16+ hours. Am I stuck or can I restart with ethernet not wifi?
Nine hours later:
Apple: The best way to be 100% sure it's using ethernet for migration is to disable Wi-Fi on both computers before starting the migration process.
A mishna on today's daf teaches: if one gave wool to a dyer to die and the dyer burned it in the cauldron, the dyer has to compensate the owner for his wool. What if he dyed it the wrong color? R' Meir says that, here too, the dyer must pay the owner the value of the wool. (The dyer buys the now-dyed wool, in other words.) R' Yehudah, however, says we compare the increase in value from the dyeing (even the wrong color is an increase over undyed wool) to the dyer's outlay (such as for materials). If the increase in value is greater than the outlay, the owner of the wool pays only the outlay. If outlay is greater than the increase in value, the owner pays only the increase in value. (100b)
According to R' Yehudah, in other words, if there was benefit the owner keeps his wool and still owes the dyer something, but since the dyer messed up he's only going to get the smaller of (a) his actual costs or (b) the increase in value.
That the thief owes full restoration if he has diminished the value of the stolen items seems obvious to me. That the thief gets to benefit from the proceeds of his theft, for example the calf if the stolen cow later becomes pregnant, comes as more of a surprise to me. What happens if he stole a cow, it became pregnant, and he then paid damages before it gave birth -- if the thief returns the cow, would the owner owe the thief for the increase in value? I suspect that the practical answer is that you treat livestock and goods as commodities -- the thief pays the value of a cow but doesn't necessarily return that specific cow. I'm speculating, and perhaps it's addressed somewhere in the coming pages.
I presume that if you, say, hire a hit-man, while you might not be liable for capital murder under Jewish law, you'd still be liable for other penalties from the hiring/conspiracy.
For a sheep it's fourfold damages, according to the torah. I don't know why four for a sheep but five for an ox.
Today's daf is 58, where the g'maara is discussing this last point further. I think the distinction being made is between market price and property value -- what you could have gotten if you'd been able to sell, say, the fruit it ate, versus the cost of replacing plants that it damaged.
Splendor is a game of chip-collecting and card development. Players are merchants of the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, shops — all in order to acquire the most prestige points. If you're wealthy enough, you might even receive a visit from a noble at some point, which of course will further increase your prestige.The game setup includes chips for each of the five gem types, cards in three levels of value that you can buy, and a small number of patrons who becomes yours if you satisfy their individual conditions. Every card counts as producing one gem of its color, and cards cost varying numbers of gems in different combinations. So, for example, if a card requires one red, one blue, and one black, and you have a black card, then you can buy the card for one red chip and one blue one. If that card produces blue, then the next time you can automatically pay black and/or blue without expending chips. So, the more cards you acquire the fewer chips you need... except that higher-level cards have higher costs, so you still need chips throughout the game.
Victory points come from higher-end cards (the lowest-level cards confer no points, only gem production) and from patrons. Patron conditions are based on cards, for example if you have four red and four green cards.
On your turn you can take chips, buy cards, or reserve cards (set a card aside that you will buy later, so someone else doesn't beat you to it). There are several cards available for purchase at any given time, so you're trying to balance costs (what can you afford), card type (you might want particular colors either to help with future purchases or for patrons), and what other players might do (if you spend this turn getting the chips to buy that card you want, will the card still be there next turn?). It's a well-balanced game, allowing for future planning without bogging down in it. We played several four-player and three-player games, and each took about half an hour.
The game is well-made; the plastic chips are hefty enough to saty where you put them on the table, the cards are sturdy, and -- rare for board games these days -- the molded compartments in the game box actually match up with the pieces. The game is pretty without the art impeding function.
The gem theme is just a theme; it's not intrinsic to the game the way, say, trains are intrinsic to Eurorails or building settlements is intrinsic to Settlers of Catan. The game would not play differently if rubies, emeralds, sapphires, onxy, and diamonds were replaced with wood, brick, stone, grain, and sheep. But the theme also doesn't get in the way, and even if we called the elements "red", "green", etc, there's no reason you couldn't treat them as gems.
I don't see an explanation here about the asymmetry between the Israelite and the Cana'anite. According to a note in the Soncino edition, Maimonides, centuries later, explains: Cana'anites did not recognize the laws of social justics, and they were thus not entitled to claim protection under a law they did not respect. They could, however, be held liable under Israel's laws for damage they do to Israelites. That doesn't explain, however, why full compensation is due from the Cana'anite regardless of whether the ox is mu'ad or tam; an Israelite would owe another Israelite half damages in the latter case.
In the g'mara they discuss the other two permutations -- that we follow R' Yehudah for mu'ad and R' Meir for tam, and the reverse. Final answer? I don't know.
If damages are done through mu'ad -- for example, a man doesn't restrict his goats and they go eat somebody else's crops -- then the responsible person owes full payment out of the best of his estate. If damages are done through tam, on the other hand, the responsible person and the victim share the damages (which are further limited) -- this is a case of "accidents happen". (The torah covers full versus half payments explicitly in Exodus 21 in talking about the ox that gores.)
The mishna says that a wolf, lion, bear, leopard, panther, and snake are all mu'ad. R' Eleazer says they are not mu'ad if they have been tamed, except that the snake is always mu'ad. (15b-16b)
In Jewish law, mu'ad applies to the custodian, not to the victim. "You should have known that would happen" is something we say to the owner of an animal as an explanation for why he must make full restitution -- not something we say to the victim to absolve the other of any responsibility. Your animals (or children or own behaviors) are your obligation to manage, not others' to dodge. (I suspect this doesn't apply to provocation or trespass, though; the talmud talks about things like not keeping your animals in, not about people climbing your fences and getting themselves hurt by your animals. There is probably also halacha on attractive nuisances, but I don't know what it is.)
We started by reviewing the famous story in the talmud (Bava Metzia 59b): Rabbi Eliezer and the rest of the sages are having an argument about the ritual status of a particular type of oven. After failing to win them over by logic, R' Eliezer resorted to other means: If I am right, he said, let this carob tree prove it -- and the carob tree got up and walked 100 cubits (some say 400). The sages responded: we do not learn halacha from carob trees. He then appealed to a stream, which ran backwards -- but we do not learn halacha from streams either. Nor from the walls of the study hall, his next appeal. Finally he appealed to heaven and a bat kol (heavenly voice) rang out: in all matters of halacha Rabbi Eliezer is right. But the sages responded: lo bashamayim hi, it (the torah) is not in heaven. That is, God gave us the torah and entrusted it to the sages, following a process of deduction given at Sinai, and that torah says that after the majority one must incline (in matters of torah). So, heavenly voices aren't part of the process. (It is then reported that God's reaction to this response is to laugh and say "my children have defeated me".)
That much of the story is fairly widely known, and I've also heard a joke version that ends with "so nu? Now it's 70 to 2!". The g'mara goes on from there, though, and it takes a darker turn. After this episode they brought everything that R' Eliezer had ever declared to be ritually pure and destroyed it, and, not satisfied with that, they excommunicated him. Rabbi Akiva agrees to be the one to tell him, and the g'mara describes a fairly roundabout conversation in which it's clear that R' Akiva is trying to let his colleague down gently. But even so, R' Eliezer is devastated and, the g'mara reports, on that day the world was smitten: a third of the olive crop, a third of the wheat crop, and a third of the barley crop were destroyed.
But wait; we're not done. Rabbi Eliezer's wife, Ima Shalom (literally "mother of peace"), was the sister of Rabban Gamliel, the head of the Sanhedrin that had ruled against R' Eliezer. Ima Shalom was careful to keep her husband from praying the petitionary prayers at the end of the Amidah, for fear that he would pour out his heart to God and God would punish her brother. But one day something went wrong, she found him praying these prayers, and she cried out "you have slain my brother!" (And yes, he had died.) How did she know this, he asked? Because tradition says that all (heavenly) gates are locked except the gates of wounded feelings.
And that's the second level of the story, which I also knew before this class. The real "aha" moment for me came, instead of reading on, we backed up.
Why is the g'mara talking about this now? Sometimes we do get things that just seem to pop up out of nowhere, but usually there's context. In this case, that context is the previous mishna (the g'mara expounds the mishna). (Rabbi Schiff: "ok, everybody turn back four pages in the handout now".) That mishna says: Just as there is overreaching in buying and selling, so is there wrong done by words. One must not ask another "what is the price of this item?" if he has no intention of buying. If a man was a repentant sinner, one must not say to him "remember your former deeds". And if he was the son of proselytes one must not say to him "remember the deeds of your ancestors".
We talked about each of these cases. On the repentant sinner, he said, every married person knows this one: you do something wrong, you make amends and beg for forgiveness, your spouse forgives you... and then, five years later, in the midst of an argument, it comes out again. It feels terrible, right? The other cases can be just as bad. (You ask the price knowing you're not going to buy, then don't buy, and the seller tries to figure out what he did wrong. And for the proselyte, you're reminding him of things that somehow taint him that he didn't even do!)
Right after this mishna the g'mara begins discussing verbal wrongs, saying they're worse than monetary wrongs and that one who slanders another is as if he shed blood. The rabbis discuss all this for a while, and then we get to the oven of Achnai.
The episode with Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Schiff says, is not about rules of derivation, or proofs from miracles, or divine will versus human will. That's all just back-story. The main point is the hurt that the sages caused after the dispute. Disputes are fine; we get that all the time. But they over-reacted, hurtfully, and that is the point the g'mara is trying to make by putting this episode here.
Interesting class, and well-presented. (This writeup doesn't really do it justice, but it's the best I can offer.)