Baba Kamma, ‘The First Gate’, which opens Talmudic Civil Law to be continued in Baba Mezi’a, ‘The Middle Gate’, and Baba Bathra, ‘The Last Gate’, deals with compensation for injury or loss occasioned to person or property. It contains practically the whole law on the subject of redress... and forms two main divisions, corresponding to the two distinct causes of liability, viz., injury and misappropriation. Under the head of injury come all sorts of damage done by the defendant personally or by any of his chattels and agencies. Misappropriation similarly embraces all kinds of unlawful possession acquired whether through violence or theft, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
CHAPTER I classifies the various sources of damage under principal heads and their derivatives, and lays down some general rules which apply in common to their several liabilities. CHAPTER II deals with damage done by Foot and Tooth, also with that occasioned by poultry while flying and by pebbles thrown up by animals while walking. It then proceeds to Horn, defining Tam and Mu‘ad. CHAPTER III begins with some exceptions to this rule and deals with public nuisances coming under the head of Pit as well as with other kinds of damage occasioned on public ground, whether by obstruction or the like. CHAPTER IV opens with a case where there is more than one plaintiff. It then resumes the consideration of Tam and Mu‘ad, proceeding to the imposition of ‘ransom’ in the case of manslaughter and the stoning of the ox. The liabilities of bailees for manslaughter and damage done by cattle in their charge are laid down, and the minimum amount of precaution demanded by law is discussed. CHAPTER V continues the discussion commenced in CHAPTER III on onus probandi, with special reference to miscarriage caused to animals. After considering the relationship between a licensee and a licensor, between a trespasser and an owner, the question of offences resulting in miscarriage is resumed, this time in the case of human beings, and the relationship between the mother and the embryo in contradistinction to that between the father and the embryo is discussed; a contrast is also drawn between man and animal committing the offence; Pit in all its aspects is then fully dealt with and finally disposed of. CHAPTER VI summarizes the law of Tooth and Foot, and illustrates the method of assessing damages. The duties of shepherds and keepers are defined, as also of finders of lost property. The law regarding Fire is then presented, and the precautions to be taken and the limitation of liability are specified. CHAPTER VII elaborates the laws of twofold, fourfold and fivefold restitution in Theft. The question when and how ownership would be transferred through theft is exhaustively treated, also whether the fine can be merged in a higher penalty, and whether it should be exacted where the offence is admitted. CHAPTER VIII deals with battery and assault. CHAPTER IX deals with violence and assault not against the person and his dignity but against his chattels and possessions. CHAPTER X continues the law in cases of misappropriation beginning with the liability, if any, of heirs for robbery committed by a deceased predecessor. These are compared and contrasted with innocent purchasers. The Tractate also contains references to other systems of law, and in the notes sources of general law are occasionally quoted. [Adapted from the Introduction.]