By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
Reuvain was always an early bird. Shimon was always late. Reuvain and his child were already on their way to shul on Shabbos. Shimon was on his way back from buying flowers for his wife.
It had rained and there were puddles. Shimon saw Reuvain but he didn’t put two and two together that in his rush, he would be splashing Reuvain and son. Shimon could have slowed down, but he didn’t.
Must Shimon pay the cleaning bills?
It would seem that he does. The Gemorah (Bava Kamma 48b) tells us that a person who is travelling in a public place and damages another through his actions is obligated to pay. This is true even if he had no intention to damage (see Biur HaGra to Choshain Mishpat 378:6-8).
Notwithstanding Shimon’s obligation to pay, however, there is an interesting obligation having to do with Kavod Shabbos that is upon Reuvain. The Mishna Brurah (362:6) rules that one should take extraordinary care to make sure that one’s Shabbos clothing remain clean and not get soiled. Reuvain should have anticipated that water could splash on him and have waited toe nsure that when he passed that area – no other cars were passing. This is a halacha in kavod Shabbos and not in damages.
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