web analytics
October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Tax Evasion And Tax Avoidance: Bechorot 34a; Berachot 35b; Sanhedrin 5a; Gittin 81a.


Tax-Evasion-for-Dummies300px

There is nothing as certain as death and taxes, so the saying goes. Almost equally certain is the phenomenon of the living trying to avoid or evade taxes. In law school they teach you that while tax avoidance is legal, tax evasion is illegal. But the difference between avoidance and evasion is often difficult to define. Witness the recent tax shelters structured by national accounting firms and bolstered by the opinions of venerable law firms, only to be shot down by the IRS. At the end of the day, the only reliable distinction between tax avoidance and tax evasion is what the authorities decide post facto.

The issue is as old as money itself and it is one that every legal system struggles with. Halacha, to the extent it is a legal system – and it is much more than that – struggles with it too.

The Talmud laments the fact that contemporary generations look for ways to escape paying taxes whereas their predecessors looked for ways to pay them. The Talmud illustrates this point in connection with taxes, known as terumot and ma’asarot, or tithes, paid by the people of Israel to the kohanim, the priests. These tithes were only required to be separated and paid to the kohen in respect of crops which were delivered to the crop owner’s storehouse through the main entrance but not in respect of crops delivered through an abnormal route, such as, through a skylight in the roof.

Whereas earlier generations of farmers would have their crops delivered through the main entrance and pay the tithes that such delivery triggered, later generations of farmers would have them delivered through the skylight and thereby avoid the taxes. Although the rabbis ruled this terumah avoidance device legal,  they criticized those who took advantage of it.

Other devices employed to circumvent other obligations were ruled illegal. Such was the case with certain devices designed to free the kohen of the obligation to offer up, as a sacrifice, the bechor behemah tehorah he received from the people of Israel.

Needless to say, the kohen who received the bechor animal would be financially better off if he could have unrestricted personal use of the bechor without having to offer it up as a korban. If there were some way to free the bechor of its hekdesh status and from the obligation to offer it up as a sacrifice, the kohen would benefit.

First of all, he would not have to  take care of the bechor until it was fit for a korban. Second, he would be able to slaughter it anywhere and not be confined to slaughtering it in the Temple. Third, he would be able to feed it to anyone he desired  and not just to his immediate family. Fourth, he would be able to eat it anywhere rather than being confined to eating it in Jerusalem. Fifth, he would be able to sell it to any willing buyer, Jewish or non-Jewish.

If only the kohen could engineer that the bechor develop a moom, a blemish, that would render it unacceptable as a korban, he could solve his problem. The blemish would render the animal ineligible as a korban, but yet not treif, so that the kohen would be able to enjoy the entire animal instead of having to lose the benefit of part of it by burning it on the altar.

It would not be difficult to achieve this because even a slight blemish, such as a cut lip or a slit ear, would disqualify the animal as a korban. What if the kohen placed a basket of food behind some barbed wire, enticing the animal to go for the food and cut itself in the process? Or what if he could convince a non-Jew to injure the animal for him?

About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Tax Evasion And Tax Avoidance: Bechorot 34a; Berachot 35b; Sanhedrin 5a; Gittin 81a.”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Aerial view of Yemenite Village of HaShiloach, Old City of Jerusalem and Mt. of Olives.
Jews to Double Presence in Old Yemenite Village of Shiloach, Silwan
Latest Judaism Stories
God-and the world

The creation of the world is described twice. Each description serves a unique purpose.

Questions-Answers-logo

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Lessons-in-Emunah-new

To the surprise of our protectzia-invested acquaintances, my family has thrived in our daled amos without that amenity, b’ezras Hashem.

Business-Halacha-logo

Shimon started adjusting the branches on the roof. In doing so, a branch fell off the other side of the car and hit the side-view mirror, cracking it.

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

Should we sit in the sukkah on a day that may be the eighth day when we are not commanded to sit in the sukkah at all?

For Appearance’s Sake
‘Shammai Did Not Follow Their Own Ruling’
(Yevamos 13b 14a)

If one hurts another human being, God is hurt; if one brings joy to another, God is more joyous.

I’m grateful to Hashem for everything; Just the same, I’d love a joyous Yom Tov without aggravation.

Bereshit: Life includes hard choices that challenge our decisions, leaving lingering complications.

Rabbi Fohrman:” Great evils are often wrought by those who are blithely unaware of the power they wield.”

The emphasis on choice, freedom and responsibility is a most distinctive features of Jewish thought.

The Torah emphasizes the joy of Sukkot, for after a season of labor, we celebrate our prosperity.

The encounter with the timeless stability of the divine occurs within the Sukkot.

Hashem created all human beings and it should sadden us when Hashem, their Father, does not see nachas from them.

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Should we sit in the sukkah on a day that may be the eighth day when we are not commanded to sit in the sukkah at all?

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

We are told that after returning home from Ne’ilah and breaking our fast, the first activity we should engage in is building a sukkah.

In addition to Yom Kippur, there is at least one other instance when a person may fast on Shabbat – the case of a ta’anit chalom, in which a person wishes to fast to prevent an ominous dream from becoming reality.

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

If mourning is incompatible with Yom Tov, why is it not incompatible with Shabbat?

On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.

Based on the opinion of the Ramban, the Territorial School believes that leaving any territory of the Land of Israel in the possession of non-Jews is a violation of a biblical mandate.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/tax-evasion-and-tax-avoidance-bechorot-34a-berachot-35b-sanhedrin-5a-gittin-81a/2011/11/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: