Massekhet Bava Kamma (“The first gate”) was once part of a large tractate that was made up of the first three massekhtot in Seder Nezikim (“The Order of Damages”). These “three gates” together deal with monetary matters and they encompass almost all civil law in the Jewish law canon. Laws relating to criminal matters – and certainly those having to do with purely religious matters – appear in these tractates only as side issues. Massekhet Bava Kamma deals with one specific area of law – the areas of responsibility and types of payments that someone is obligated in when damaging his fellow, both when causing him bodily harm and when damaging his property. This is true whether the damage was done by the individual himself or by his property.
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