The Torah Has No Tolerance For Negligence

In Parshat Mishpatim (Shmot 22:5) we read about damage which may be caused by negligence: “If a fire goes out of control and catches on thorns and a stack of grain or a standing crop or a field is consumed, full restitution must be made by the one who started the fire.”


According to Rashi, though he lit the fire on his own property and it spread of its own accord by means of thorns which it found, he is nevertheless obligated to make restitution for not keeping his burning coal from breaking out and causing damage.


We learn from here that the Torah has no tolerance for negligence. It is very easy to say that the fire was out of my control. However, we are taught that we must take responsibility to make sure that both our own and our neighbor’s properties are safe. Even someone who is normally careful can turn around for a minute and find that a fire consumed their property as well as the property of their neighbors.


We can not let our guard down for a minute.


This past week there were two terrible and deadly incidents that occurred in Jerusalem which were caused by negligence.


The first was in an apartment building in Gilo. Residents in the building complained that they smelled gas. The technician from the gas company came to check it out and said that he didn’t see a problem. He closed off the gas and said that he would return in the morning to do a more thorough exam. A few hours later, one of the gas balloons exploded killing a couple and their toddler son.


The next incident was in an apartment in Givat Mordechai. An exterminator used poisons that are not intended for household use in a residential apartment. The children started to feel ill but they thought that they had food poisoning so when they went to the clinic they didn’t realize that their feeling ill had something to do with the extermination that took place in their apartment. The clinic did not ask them if they had been exposed to anything hazardous and sent them home. In the morning the children felt worse and the two younger daughters passed away. The two older children are now fighting for their lives.


If the medical clinic had asked more questions there may have been a chance that the lives of the two little girls could have been saved.


If the exterminator had used materials that were not as toxic the children would not have been in this situation to begin with.


It is very easy for the clinic to say that the parents didn’t give them enough information and it is very easy for the exterminator to say that he told them that if it starts to smell then they should leave the apartment.


The bottom line is that the exterminator should not have put them in that situation to begin with.


We see from these deadly examples why the Torah warns us to be careful and watch out for negligence. Even someone who is on the ball 99% of the time can be negligent for the other 1% and that moment can cost someone their life.


Please pray for the two children who are now struggling for their lives.