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Bais HaVaad on the Parsha, Parshas Vayakhel

Craft Fair

March 7, 2024

Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by Dayan Yehonoson Dovid Hool


One of the four shomrim (custodians) in the Torah is the shomer sachar (paid custodian), who is responsible if the item in his care is stolen or lost. The Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 303:2) says that some extend his liability even to a case where he took extra precautions but did not watch the item directly, like if he buried it deep underground or built a wall around it. The Sma (303:2) explains that all cases of theft are considered karov le’oness (nearly accidental), and the Torah nevertheless renders a shomer sachar liable for them, so the extent of the oness is immaterial.

Others explain the Shulchan Aruch based on the Rashba, who writes that the owner can say that the reason he paid a shomer is precisely so that his property would be watched in the best way, so the shomer sachar is liable even in those cases. The Shach (C.M. 303:4) cites the Maharshal, who disagrees and says that these cases have the status of oness, from which a shomer sachar is exempt.

The Chasam Sofer says that only an actual shomer sachar is liable for theft or loss, not others given the status of one, like an uman (craftsman; See Shulchan Aruch C.M. 306:1), even according to the Shulchan Aruch. He explains the reason for the liability of a shomer sachar much as the Rashba does: because the owner paid for the highest level of shmirah. An uman, however, is not paid to watch an item, but to repair or improve it, so he has less liability. Other Acharonim disagree, following the above Sma, whose point applies equally to an uman.



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