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“What is the difference between these two reasons?” asked Nachman.

“There are three differences, situations in which the reliability of the second person is not an issue,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “For example, if the owner commonly entrusts the second guardian with comparable items, he cannot say that he does not trust him; he would have to accept his oath. A second difference is when the initial guardian was also present at the time of the theft; he can swear about the theft to exempt himself. A third difference is our case, where there are witnesses to the event; there is no need here for an oath by the second guardian.”

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“The halacha is in accordance with Rava’s rationale,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “Thus, Yossi is exempt from the theft, as any other unpaid guardian [shomer chinam]. despite the fact that he handed the item over to another person.” (C.M. 291:26; Shach 291:47)

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Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to subscribe@businesshalacha.com. For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail ask@businesshalacha.com.
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