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Who has to pay for a broken camera?


There is a large family in our neighbourhood who we are friendly with. About 4 months ago, our daughter was leading a day camp with one of their daughters (my daughter organised it mainly but ‘hired’ one of their daughters to help her out. Note that the main if not all the children attending the camp were their other children. My daughter was expecting to be paid but this time had not explicitly said she was charging, though previous times with this family she has charged for her time and they paid happily. So I encouraged her to be mevater and not charge because she had not explicitly told them it was for pay). I think the daughter who was helping was just over batmitzvah – we cannot be sure because we cannot now for sure remember when the day camp was but pretty sure it was after her batmitzvah. In the course of doing the camp, this 12 year old daughter accidentally broke our daughter’s camera. At the time (about 4 months ago we think), my daughter went and explained the situation to the mother. My daughter asked if they could fix the camera or else reimburse her if it could not be fixed. The mother assured her that she would take the camera and get it fixed rather than reimburse our daughter. Meanwhile, my daughter owed this girl 7 and a half shekels as payment for the day she helped out at the day camp. When our daughter told this girl how much she owed her, this girl said she would be mevater because she already owed our daughter for the camera.

Since then, we have not heard back or received the camera back. My daughter would have liked to use her camera over the summer (it is one of her most precious possessions) and a few times asked me what was going on with the status of her camera. I told her to ask the mother – and she did. The mother fobbed her off and said she is still looking into fixing it. That was probably more than a month ago.

Just this past Shabbos, our daughter saw some of the siblings of this girl who broke the camera at shule and they said in jest that their sister was upset because of the camera issue and something to do with not being paid.

Our daughter asked me what to do. She said “Are they too poor to pay and is it better that I do not ask again because it will make them feel uncomfortable?” I would like to be able to advise her according to Din Torah. We would like to know both the halacha, but also derech chassidus. Also would you need us to try to find out exactly when it happened and what the other girl’s age was? I would prefer not to ask unless this was crucial but pretty sure she was just over batmitzvah.

NOTE: There is a bit of background history that may or may not be relevant. About a year ago, this family was over for a Shabbos meal with their many many children and one of the children (definitely under barmitzvah) accidentally broke our exercise ball beyond repair. We never mentioned it to the parents or asked them for reimbursement and would not have thought about it but for this subsequent issue of the broken camera.

Thank you very much for your time.


A few points

Parents are not liable for their children’s damage-Mishna Bava Kama 87B

A child under bas mitzvah does not have to pay-same Mishna

After child becomes  over bas mitzvah some say based on Rashi Bovo Kamo 98 that he has to pay after he grows up but most say he does not have to pay.

If the child has to pay for dropping the camera-depends on exactly what happened-question of odom muod le’olom but for oness like geneivo he does not havbe to pay-see Tosefos Bava Kamo 27B

Even if they do have to pay –if they are poor there is a midas chasedus to not ask for money-see Bava Metsiyo 83A

I hope this helps

Hatslocho rabbo



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