What does shomer mean in Hebrew?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

In Hebrew, the term “shomer” (שומר) refers to a legal guardian who is entrusted with the custody and care of another person’s object. This concept of a shomer is derived from Jewish religious law, also known as halacha. The laws governing the responsibilities and obligations of shomrim can be found in the Torah, specifically in the Book of Exodus (Shemot 22:6-14).

The role of a shomer is to ensure the protection and safekeeping of someone else’s property. This can include a wide range of objects, such as money, valuable items, or even livestock. The shomer is expected to exercise caution and diligence in fulfilling their duties, as they are legally and morally responsible for the well-being of the entrusted object.

One of the key principles underlying the laws of shomrim is the concept of “hamotzi mechavero alav hara’ayah” (lit. “the burden of proof is on the one who seeks to extract payment”). This means that if the object in the shomer’s care is lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed, the burden of proof lies on the owner to demonstrate that the shomer acted negligently or breached their duties. Without evidence of negligence, the shomer is generally exempt from liability.

The Torah provides specific guidelines for different types of shomrim and their corresponding responsibilities. For instance, a shomer sachar is a paid guardian who receives compensation for their services, while a shomer chinam is an unpaid volunteer guardian. The laws governing each type of shomer may vary slightly, as the level of care and responsibility expected from a paid guardian may be higher than that of an unpaid one.

In addition to the duties of safekeeping, a shomer is also expected to take reasonable precautions to prevent harm or loss. This includes protecting the object from theft, damage, or any other form of risk that could reasonably be anticipated. The shomer must act responsibly and prudently, ensuring that the entrusted object is kept in a secure location and is not exposed to unnecessary danger.

Personal experiences and situations can help illustrate the practical application of these laws. For example, imagine a scenario where someone asks you to watch over their laptop while they go to the restroom in a coffee shop. As the shomer, you would be expected to take reasonable steps to ensure the laptop’s safety, such as keeping it within your sight, not leaving it unattended, and being aware of any potential risks or suspicious individuals nearby.

It is important to note that the laws of shomrim extend beyond physical objects and can also apply to intangible assets or responsibilities. For instance, a shomer can refer to a person who is entrusted with the care and well-being of a child or an elderly individual. In such cases, the shomer is responsible for the individual’s safety, health, and overall welfare.

The term “shomer” in Hebrew refers to a legal guardian who is entrusted with the custody and care of another person’s object or well-being. The laws governing shomrim are derived from Jewish religious law and emphasize the responsibilities, duties, and liabilities of the shomer. By fulfilling their obligations diligently and responsibly, a shomer ensures the protection and safekeeping of the entrusted object or individual.