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Posted on August 14, 2018 By Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld | Series: | Level:

One who accepts deposited property without charging for watching it is responsible only if he is negligent; if it is lost or stolen he swears that he protected it adequately and need not pay, as it says “[If a man gives his friend money or utensils to watch] and it is stolen from the man’s house… the owner of the house shall come before the judges [(and swear that) he did not set his hand to his neighbor’s property]”.1 One who charges for watching and one who rents property are responsible for loss and theft but they are believed on oath about unavoidable accidents (if there are no witnesses), as it says “[If a man gives his friend an ass or ox or sheep or any animal to watch] and it dies or is injured or is taken captive with none to see, an oath of Ha-Shem shall be between the two of them [that he did not set his hand to his neighbor’s property… and he shall not pay]; but if it is stolen from him he shall pay its owner”.2 One who borrows is responsible even for accidents, as it says “[And if a man borrows from his friend] and it is injured or dies… he shall pay3; but he is not responsible if it dies because of doing the work he borrowed it to do. However, if the owner himself is working for the watcher, renter or borrower at the time he accepts the property there is no responsibility even for negligence, as it says “If its owner is with him he shall not pay”.4 The foregoing applies to movable property; one who watches, rents or borrows land is responsible only for negligence and need not take an oath. A creditor’s responsibility regarding collateral for a loan and a craftsman’s responsibility for the thing he is hired to work on are like that of one who watches for pay.a


1. Ex. 22:6-7 a. 1:1; 2:1; 4:1-2; Sechirus 1:2-3; 2:1,3 (and see 9); 3:1; 10:1,3
2. Ex. 22:9-11
3. Ex. 22:13
4. Ex. 23:14