Halacha Club

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried


Chapter 184 : The laws of physical damage

§1

One is forbidden to hit another person, and if he hit him he transgresses a negative commandment as it is said: 1 "If the wicked man is worthy to be beaten..." "...forty stripes he may give him and not exceed..." If the Torah was particular about beating of the wicked, saying that one shouldn't beat him too much for his wickedness, how much more does this apply to beating the righteous. Anyone who raises his hand against his neighbor to srike him, even though he didn't (actually) hit him, is called wicked as it is said: 2 "And he said to the wrong-doer, why will you smite your fellow ?" "why have you smote" was not said rather "why will you smite" even though he still hasn't hit him, he is called a wrong-doer. Any one who struck his fellow man was excommunicated by the ban of the ancients, and couldn't be included in the minyan of ten for any holy duty, until the Bet Din releases him from the ban and he accepts their judgement. If someone strikes him or another Jew, and it is impossible for him to save himself or his fellow from the hand of the striker except by striking him back, he is allowed to hit him.


  1. Deut. 25:2-3.
  2. Ex. 2:13.

§2

Even one's servant who doesn't obey him, one is forbidden to strike him. It is allowed to strike his small children or an orphan he is bringing up in his house, in order to lead them in the upright way, for this is for their own good.


§3

One needs to be careful not to throw pieces of broken glass or the like in a place where they might cause harm.


§4

If one's neighbor has a headache, Heaven forbid, and the noise of hammering would make it worse for him, one shouldn't hammer even in one's home even Bulgar 1 and the like, things that the noise of hitting them will reach the neighbor's home and annoy him.


  1. Bulgur is made by soaking and cooking the whole wheat kernel, drying it and then removing part of the bran and cracking the remaining kernel into small pieces.

§5

There are many other things relating to damages to one's neighbor or to the general public, and the rule is, one is forbidden to do anything, in one's own place and especially in a public place, something that could cause some damage to his neighbor or to passersby, unless it's something which has become the custom for all to do, and they have been excused by all people in the city so that anyone can do this thing, when they need to, him or his son after him.


§6

One who frightens his neighbor, eg; by shouting at him from behind him, or appearing before him in the dark or the like, is guilty by Heavenly law.


§7

One who injures his neighbor, even though he gave him the compensation money due to him for the injuries, and also a thief or a robber 1 even though he returned (the stolen item) or paid him, in any event, we don't forgive them until they ask the pardon from the injured one or the one who was robbed or stolen from on account of the pain that was (caused) to them. They (the injured party) must forgive them and not be cruel.


  1. The difference between a thief and a robber is that the thief steals furtively, when unobserved, whereas the robber takes openly and with force.

§8

One who sees his neighbor in distress, Heaven forbid, and is able to save him by himself, or pay others to save him, is obliged to (take the) trouble (himself) or hire (others) to save him. One (can afterwards) receive the money back from him if he has it, but if he doesn't have, in any event, one shouldn't refrain, because of this, and save him (using) his own money. If one did refrain, one trangresses "don't stand against the blood of your neighbor" 1 Similarly, if one hears some wicked plotting evil against his neighbor, or setting a trap for him, and didn't reveal this to him, or he can pay them off with money (so as to save) his neighbor, and so take off their (evil) intentions, and didn't pay them off, and other similar things, transgresses "don't stand against the blood of your neighbor" and any one who preserves one Jewish life is considered as saving the whole world.


  1. Lev. 19:16.

§9

One who is engaged in counterfeiting, and it's believed that he will endanger by this many others, he's considered like a persecutor, and we warn him not to do this. If he doesn't heed, it's permitted to denounce him to the government saying that there is no one else involved in this except "so and so" by himself. Similarly, an individual who was falsely accused 1 because of him, may say to them "I am not doing this, but only "so and so" by himself."


  1. Of being his accomplice in the crime.

§10

It was the custom that seven elders of the city would judge cases of fines, for example, for injuries, insults and the like, but they mustn't do anything without a Bet Din, because concerning these matters there are many different opinions, and one shouldn't act more strictly than the law requires, and one shouldn't look lightly at the honor of one's fellow man.


§11

A pregnant woman who is having difficulties with the fetus, all the time the fetus is inside her it is permitted 1 to abort whether by drugs or by hand, for as long as it hasn't come out it's not yet considered a living soul, and to save the mother it is permitted to abort, because it's considered like a "pursuer" who comes after his neighbor to kill him. However, once it's head has come out, one doesn't harm it, because we don't sacrifice one living soul for another, and this is the nature of the world.


  1. If her life is in danger.