By: Rabbi Avrohom Adler
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The Gemora explains Rabbi Yishmael to mean that we evaluate the damages based on the best of anticipation. How is this evaluated? It is the value of the field at the time that the produce would have matured (at the harvest time).
Reb Meir Simcha writes that although we learned that if an animal damages in a public domain through shein or regel, he is liable to pay for what he benefitted, this is not a compensatory payment for the damages, for the Torah teaches us that one is exempt from paying for shein or regel in a public domain. He is paying, not because he is a damages; but rather because he is regarded as a debtor to the owner of the field. Accordingly, he would not pay according to the anticipated value of the produce at the time of the harvest either, for that is a halachah which applies only by a damager.
Deducting the Food
Rabbi Yosi said: If one caused a woman to miscarry, deduct the fees of the midwife (that the husband would have paid in order for someone to help his wife with the delivery). [The defendant saved the husband money which he potentially would have paid.] Ben Azzai says: Deduct (the extra) food (which the husband would have been required to provide for her during the pregnancy).
The Gemora notes: The one who says to deduct the fees for the midwife would certainly deduct food, but the one who says to deduct the food would not necessarily hold to deduct the fees for the midwife, as the husband might say, “My wife is proficient at giving birth and does not need a midwife.”
The Rashba quotes Rabbeinu Tam that the food we are discussing is the food that the woman would eat after the birth of her child, for then she requires special sweet food.
Another explanation is that we are referring to the sustenance of the child, which the father would have been required to provide.
Accordingly, the Raavad explains that we would deduct the cost of the child’s food for six years, for it is until that age that the father has an obligation to provide for his child.
The Rashba asks that if so, it would emerge that the cost of the food (for six years) would be more than the worth of the child, and what would the attacker pay?
The Gemora relates an incident: Eliezer the young one once put on a pair of black shoes (which was the common practice among mourners) and stood in the market place of Nehardea. When the officers of the house of the Exilarch found him there, they asked him, “Why are you wearing black shoes?” He said to them, “It is because I am mourning on the destruction of Yerushalayim.” They asked him, “Are you such an important person (like a Torah scholar) that you would mourn over Yerushalayim?” Considering this to be haughtiness on his part, they took him and placed him in prison.
Tosfos comments that it would appear from this story that it was not the norm to wear black shoes.
It is also apparent like this from a Gemora in Taanis (22a), where Rav Broka asked a Jewish prison warden: Why don’t you have tzitzis on your garment and why do you wear black shoes, unlike other Jews?” The man answered, “I mix with non-Jews and want to conceal my Jewish identity from them. In this way when I hear that the government is plotting against the Jews, I run to tell the rabbis that they may pray and nullify the decree.”
Tosfos challenges this from a Gemora in Beitzah (15a) that indicates the opposite. The Mishna rules that it is forbidden to send a white shoe to someone during the Intermediate Days of Yom Tov because we are concerned that an effort will be made to blacken them in a manner that is forbidden. Evidently, it was common practice to wear black shoes!?
Rabbeinu Tam answers that Jews did wear black shoes, but the shoelaces were white. Eliezer the young one added black laces to his black shoes as an expression of mourning and the prison warden did the same in order not to be recognized as a Jew.
Tosfos concludes that this is the reason why the Gemora in Sanhedrin (74b) rules that during a time when the idolaters are trying to force the Jewish people to assimilate and convert to their religion, it is even forbidden to wear shoelaces like those of non-Jews, and it is obligatory for a Jew to die rather than comply with their oppressors instructions to the contrary. This is further proof that the Jewish people’s shoelaces were of a color different than that of their non-Jewish neighbors.