Tractate Bava Kamma was originally the first section of a large tractate named Tractate Nezikin, which comprised what are now the first three tractates in the Order of Nezikin. From this placement it derived its name, Bava Kamma, the first gate. The remaining part of this super-tractate was divided into Bava Metzia, the middle gate, and Bava Batra, the last gate. These three tractates generally address monetary cases and incorporate within their chapters almost the entire range of Jewish civil law, while punishments for criminal offenses and religious transgressions are addressed only tangentially. Tractate Bava Kamma treats one specific area of law, the law of torts, in the narrowest meaning of the term. This means that it deals with the range of responsibility and compensation for which one is liable after causing damage to another’s body orproperty, both when the damage was caused by an individual and when it was caused by his possessions, in a direct or indirect fashion.
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