Cup Must be Whole – Bava Kamma 54


By: Rabbi Avrohom Adler

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Cup should be Whole

The Gemora explains: It is written: And the carcass shall be his. This implies (that the pit owner would be liable to pay for) all things that are subject to death.

The Gemora asks: If so, whether according to the Chachamim who exclude utensils or according to Rabbi Yehudah who includes utensils, are utensils objects that are subject to death?

The Gemora answers: It may be said that their breaking is their death.

It is written in the Sefer Hayashar in the name of the Gaonim that a cup of blessing (the cup of wine over which Birchas Hamazon is recited) must be whole; it cannot be broken. It cannot be chipped at all. This is what the Gemora Brochos (51a) means when it states that the cup of blessing must be chai (alive). “Alive” means that it is whole. This is based upon our Gemora which states that the breakage of a utensil is equivalent to its death.

The Olas Tamid, however, disagrees and holds that as long as the cup can stand on its base, it is qualified to be used, save for the fact that there is a mitzvah to beautify the mitzvah (and because of that, it is preferable not to have any cracks in it whatsoever).