Saturday, February 21, 2009

Land Mines: Bor or Eish?

At the kiddush at my house this morning, the question arose as to whether land mines have a din Bor or a din Eish. One nafka mina would be whether the person who laid the mine would be chayav as a rotzei'ach. We pasken Eisho mishum Chitzo, so a baal eish is chayav missah. But for Bor, the guy who dug the pit is not chayav missa or kofer. So: on the one hand, you have the Gemara that says that avno sakino u'masa'o that fell in a ruach metzuyah have a din eish if they damaged while falling, because ko'ach acheri me'urav bo. On the other hand, here, the damage was precipitated by the nizak stepping on the mine; until that point, it was quiescent. But one can say that a mine is not passive, like a bor. It is eish. The fact that the eish is potential instead of actual should not make any difference.

One wise guy said that it couldn't be bor, because it says in the Torah velo yechasenu, and mines are always very carefully covered up. That, of course, crosses the line between Torah and Purim Torah.

Photo: John Rodsted


  1. Aish, like a cheitz, moves. A land mine, like a bor, only strikes exactly where you left it.

    I would suggest a RSShkop-style sevara: If you release something into the greater world and do not consider the possibility of intended consequences, you are more culpable.


    PS: The guys at Avodah would love this. Go to the archive and search for "VIDC" (vos iz der chiluk)

  2. Consider the possibility of a land mine being gramah in any case, since it requires the action of the victim to activate. No different than dumping 100 gallons of tetrodotoxin into a local reservoir. (I hope that last line doesn't get this blog into trouble with the NSA monitors)

  3. Micha, it takes a little hachana and koved rosh to begin posting on your estimable server. Give me some time.

    Anonymous, being so specific makes ME nervous about you. What about Ricin? Or LSD? Or both, for a last, good farewell party?

    Of course it's a grama! But who cares? Every bor is grama, and you're chayav anyway. And I still say that it might be eish; even though it is activated by the victim, it is essentially bottled eish, released by a stumble; and Eish, we pasken like R'Y, is meshum chitzav. Now, I don't know if the Nimukei Yosef's (all results are done at the moment of setting the fire) will work here, but the NY is not the last word.

  4. Then of course we get into the issue of whether or not the gentleperson embedding the land mine was mafkir it - viz. the machlokes Rav and Shmuel. You can't tell me it's shor!. And if it's only bor, there is no chiyuv for humans, at least for misah.
    By the way, compared to tetrodotoxim, with an LD50 of about 10 microgram/kg by injection, botulinum toxin is far more effective, with an LD50 estimated to be about 1 nanogram/kg. But people will gladly use it for cosmetic purposes.