“When he goes into the forest with his kinsman” (Dt.19:5)
[and an accidental death results,]—
just as a forest affords both
the injured and the injurer
equally free access,
[where each party is responsible
for his own safety,]
so, too, any place
which affords to the injured and the injurer
equally free access
[imposes upon each party responsibility
for his own safety].
This precludes application of the rule
[of the unwitting killer]
to [an accidental death in] a householder’s courtyard,
for it does not afford to the injured and the injurer
equally free access.2
“To chop wood” (Dt.19:5).
Abba Saul says:
Just as wood-chopping, is an optional act
[that may result in an accidental death],
so, too, any optional act
[resulting in an accidental death
releases the injuring party from the charge of murder].
This excludes from our rule
the father who [inadvertently]
beats his son to death
[since disciplining the son is not optional],
the master who [inadvertently]
whips his disciple to death
[while disciplining him],
or an agent of the court
[who accidentally kills a prisoner
while administering lashes].3
- H:205; JN2:63-65.
- =M. Mak.2:2. The injured party must receive permission from the householder to be in the latter’s courtyard.
- =M. Mak.2:2; //T. Mak.2:5, cf. Mechilta Ishmael, neziqin, 4. In each case, the death was caused by a well-intentioned, but misapplied, desire to fulfill the commandment to administer corporal punishment.