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INTENTION:

An intelligent purpose to do a certain act. In criminal cases wrongful intent must accompany the wrongful act in order to make the culprit punishable by law. While in the common law, when any wrongful act has been committed, it is inferred conclusively that the act was intentionally committed, in Talmudic law the intention must be clearly established, as well as the act itself. An innocent intention will excuse a wrongful act (see Ignorance of the Law), and a wrongful intention that failed of consummation, even though another crime was accidentally committed at the same time, is not punishable. For instance, one who intended to kill a certain man, and by mistake killed another, could not be criminally prosecuted (Sanh. 79a; Maimonides, "Yad," Roẓeaḥ, iv. 12). Similarly, if one, with the intention of killing a certain man, aimed a stone at a part of his body where a mortal wound could not be inflicted, and the stone struck a more delicate part, and caused death, the one that threw the stone was free from punishment (ib.). The right of Asylum, however, was afforded only to one who had had no intention of killing; in the cases mentioned above the homicide was not admitted to the cities of refuge, and the avenger of blood ("go'el") could kill him without being liable to punishment.

In civil cases, the law disregards the intention, and considers only the injury done by the act. One who injures another's person or property, even without intention, must make full restitution for the damage (B. Ḳ. 26a, b; "Yad," Ḥobel, i. 11-14, vi. 1); one need not, however, compensate him for the pain suffered ("ẓa'ar"), or for the services of a physician ("rippui"), or for the time lost ("shebet"), or for incident indignities ("boshet"). See Damage. An ox that gored a man unintentionally and caused his death, was not killed; but if the ox was known to have gored others ("mu'ad"), its owner was compelled to make compensation ("kofer") to the victim's heirs. For unintentional, non-fatal injuries committed by an animal upon any person or property, its master must make compensation equal to half the damage done (B. Ḳ. 43a, 44b; "Yad," Nizḳe Mamon, x. 9, 13; xi. 6). See Bequest; Consent; Devotion; Goring Ox; Hatra'ah; Kawwanah.

Bibliography:
  • Shulḥan 'Aruk, Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ. 378, 421;
  • Mielziner. Legal Maxims, etc., Cincinnati, 1898;
  • Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence, of the Ancient Hebrews, Baltimore, 1891.
S. S. J. H. G.
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