web analytics
November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



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
A look inside the IAF war room
IDF to Stop Persecution of Observant Soldiers With Beards
Latest Judaism Stories
Dante's Vision of Rachel and Leah

Yitzhak called you Esav and you answered him, then he called you Yaakov and you also answered him!”

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Yitzchak thought the Jewish people needed dual leadership: Eisav the physical; Yaakov the spiritual

Weiss-112114-Sufganiot

According to the Sefer Yetzirah, the nature of the month of Kislev is sleep.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

Not every child can live up to our hopes or expectations, but every child is loved by Hashem.

Leaders must always pay attention to the importance of timing.

While our leaders have been shepherds, the vast majority of the Children of Israel were farmers.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.

Dovid turned to the other people sitting at his table. “I’m revoking my hefker of the Chumash,” he announced. “I want to keep it.”

Ever Vigilant
‘When Unworthy, One’s Number Of Years Is Reduced’
(Yevamos 50a)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Ramban interprets Korban as self-sacrifice, each Jew should attempt to recreate Akeidas Yitzchak.

Dr. Schwartz had no other alternatives up his sleeve. He suggested my mother go home and think about what she wanted to do.

Why does Lavan’s speaking before his father show that he was wicked? Disrespectful, yes. Rude, certainly. But a rasha?

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

What if, at the moment of the late brother’s death, the surviving brother cannot effect yibum because the widow is a niddah?

The Torah lists twenty-one close relatives a man may not marry.

In the same way as a married woman is precluded from marrying another man without a get, so too is this widow prohibited from marrying another man without chalitzah.

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?

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?

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: