The Four Big Ones

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 27/6/2019

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The Four Big Ones

The Mishna[1] states there are ארבעה אבות נזיקין; four primary damagers. They are שור, בור, מבעה, הבער; ox, pit, Maveh and fire. This can also be referring to different events throughout history that have caused tremendous damage. The שור refers to the עגל; golden calf. The בור is a reference to Yosef who was thrown into a pit and later sold.[2] The meaning of מבעה is either אדם; damage done by man, or שן; teeth[3] (Machlokes in the Gemara). So, this refers to Adam and Chava who partook of the forbidden fruit of the Eitz Hadaas.[4] הבער; fire refers to the fire of Machlokes referring to the episode of Korach and his followers against Moshe. How did this incident end? With fire as it says ואש יצאה מאת ה'...; a fire came forth from Hashem and consumed the 250 men….[5]

R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.



[1] Baba Kamma 2a

[2] Breishis 37:24. Bnei Yissoschar, Sivan, 5:12.

[3] Baba Kamma 3b. This refers to teeth of trespassing cattle which cause damage by their teeth through prohibited eating by grazing illegally.

[4] Incidentally, the Sichas Haran (29) informs us that learning Shulchan Aruch (Halacha) is a big Tikun. This is because through sin, one mixes good and bad and through learning Halacha we separate the good from bad since we clarify through Halacha what is Kosher and Pasul, permitted and forbidden and what is pure and impure (see Likutai Moharan 1:8).

[5] Bamidbar 16:35


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