Get Your Peanut Butter Out of My Chocolate: Bava Kamma 23

There was a great ad in the 70’s for Reese Peanut Butter Cups. A guy holding a chocolate bar would fall on a guy holding a can of peanut butter and then the chocolate would get stuck in the peanut butter. One guy said “What is your chocolate doing in my peanut butter” The other guy said “What is your peanut butter doing in my chocolate.” Very 70’s.

Page 23 continues to analyze the Mishna (21) which deals with a dog who takes a burning hot cake from a fire and carries it and put it onto someone’s stack of grain and burns the grain. The mishna concluded that the owner of the dog pays the full amount of the cake, but half damages for the grain.

On page 23 the Gemara attempts to understand why? The Talmud asks “is the mouth of the cow in the domain of the damager” (or is the mouth still in the domain of its master) The Gemara then presents the funny statement: “Does the owner of the dog say to the owner of the field- “What is your cake doing in the mouth of my dog” Presumptious, silly? Is the mouth of the dog in the property of the damaged person or is the mouth still in the “domain”of its master. For all doing the daf, this is the central question for the damage known as “Shein” (eating). Are you eating in a public domain, your domain or private domain.

The interesting question about the silly statement: What is your bread doing in the mouth of my dog” maybe raises a more philosophical question-Perspective. How we see the world. How we see our events as they unfold.Is it so clear who is truly responsible? Maybe the deeper point to this funny exchange is that life is not so clear cut. Responsibility and blame is not always easy to parse. Maybe we should take this exchange as a way of recognizing that we can never understand the events of the physical world. Maybe that’s the brilliance of the peanut butter falling into the chocolate. Who knew?

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