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Question about Parashat Emor


Rabbi David Sperling

Adar I 9, 5782
Hi. Im working with a friends son on his bar mitzah dvar torah for parshat Emor. In Perek 24 pasuk 18, it says "One who kills a beast shall make restitution for it: life for life. " (the translation is taken from This pasuk follows the story about the half Egyptian/half Israelite who blasphemes and is then stoned by the community.  In the psukim nearby, we read about a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Then we read again that if an animals life is taken restitution is made (in pasuk 21). Heres my question (and I didnt see anything in the commentary that addresses it). These two psukim dont say that these animals who were killed belonged to anyone. Is that strictly implied? Or do we take it literally, that some kind of restitution must be made if we kill any animal? What if its an animal who lives freely in the wild that we kill intentionally or accidentally? Is some kind of restitution due for even an ownerless animal? If yes, how or to whom does one make that restitution? Thank you for your help.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. First of all, a big mazel tov to the Bar Mitzvah boy. The understanding of the verses is that a person who damages the property of another must pay for that damage. The payments for damaging an animal apply when the animal belongs to a person. However, damaging an ownerless animal incurs no payments. I hope this is of some help. Blessings.
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