web analytics
September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Unmarked Stamp

Business-Halacha-logo

Mr. Spitz was going through the mail. “Typical assortment,” he grunted. “One third bills and financial documents, one third solicitations, and one third junk mail.”

He picked up a large envelope, a wedding invitation. “Finally, something significant,” he said. He looked at the return addresses. “Simcha Brander!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t know he was making a wedding!”

After reading the invitation, Mr. Spitz returned it to the envelope and put it down. “Can I soak the stamps off the envelope for my stamp collection?” asked his son, Pinchas.

“Of course,” said Mr. Spitz. “Here, take the envelope.” The invitation was heavy and had required three stamps. Pinchas noticed that only the two right stamps were postmarked. The third, leftmost, stamp was not marked at all.

“Look at this,” Pinchas said to his father. “This stamp is still good. After I soak it off, you can reuse it.”

“I’m not sure you’re allowed to reuse the stamp,” said Mr. Spitz.

“Why not?” asked Pinchas. “It wasn’t marked, so it’s still good. Anyway, the post office has no way of knowing whether it was already used or not. It’s a waste to throw it away.”

“I heard that the post office does not allow reusing the stamp,” replied Mr. Spitz. “It’s cheating the government.”

“How is it cheating?” argued Pinchas. “If they didn’t bother canceling the stamp, that’s their problem!”

“Reusing the stamp means you’re not paying for the letter you will send,” explained Mr. Spitz.

“Not true,” said Pinchas. “As long as you put on a stamp, it’s like paying. What if the post office had lost money and you found it? Would using the money be considered as not paying?”

“I don’t know if that’s the same,” responded Mr. Spitz. “Money has inherent value; the stamp is an indication that you paid the postal service for delivering the letter.”

“During the year Rabbi Dayan once came to give a shiur in our yeshiva,” said Pinchas. “He invited us to discuss business halacha issues with him. Would you mind if we asked him?”

“I’d love to meet him,” replied Mr. Spitz.

Mr. Spitz and Pinchas arranged to meet Rabbi Dayan. “Pinchas had a question for you,” Mr. Spitz said.

“If a stamp was not marked,” asked Pinchas, “is it permitted to reuse it?”

“Reusing a stamp that was mistakenly not marked is illegal according to the postal code and even punishable with a prison term,” said Rabbi Dayan. “It is also problematic halachically, though the reason may differ between the U.S. and Israel.”

“What is the issue?” asked Mr. Spitz.

“There are three issues,” explained Rabbi Dayan. “First is dina d’malchusa; second is hashavas aveidah; and third is theft.”

“Can you please explain?” asked Pinchas.

“Since reusing the stamp is illegal,” said Rabbi Dayan, “many authorities address this issue as one of dina d’malchusa, the law of the land. A government is entitled to pass laws that relate to taxes and the financial functioning of the government. These laws are binding also on the Jewish citizens of the country. As such, the rules of the U.S. postal service achieve also halachic authority.” (See Mishneh Halachos, 6:288)

“What did you mean about the difference between the U.S. and Israel?” asked Mr. Spitz.

“There is a major dispute between contemporary authorities whether the concept of dina d’malchusa applies also in Israel,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “Some say it applies, whereas others disagree. They base dina d’malchusa on the government’s consent for you to live in the land, whereas all Jews are partners in Eretz Yisrael and are entitled to live there with or without consent of the government.” (See Pischei Choshen, Geneivah 1:4; Yechaveh Da’as 5:63.)

Rabbi Dayan continued: “On the other hand, when dealing with a Jewish institution, there may be additional element of hashavas aveidah. The unmarked stamp is like a lost item of the postal service, though some consider the lost stamp as abandoned property [yeiush]. which you are not required to return.” (See also Shevet Halevi 5:173)

“Where does theft come in?” asked Mr. Spitz.

“Beyond the issues of dina d’malchusa and hashavas aveidah, some authorities suggest that the issue here is more severe,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “The stamp is not merely a government tax or a lost item but rather represents payment for the service of delivering the letter. By reusing an unmarked stamp you are asking the postal service to deliver the letter and perform a service while cheating them out the payment. This is a form of theft, which is prohibited whether it involves Jew or gentile, private delivery service or governmental.” (P.C., Geneivah 1:1, Oz Nidberu 6:74)

About the Author: 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.


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 “Unmarked Stamp”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS's response to President Obama's warnings came in the form of a movie trailer.
ISIS Sends Obama Fiery Video Response [video]
Latest Judaism Stories
15th century Book of the Torah

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

Leff-091214

All Jews are inherently righteous and that is why we all have a portion in the World to Come.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

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

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

Torah isn’t a theological treatise or a metaphysical system but a series of stories linked over time

In contrast to her Eicha-like lamentations of the previous hour or more, however, my youngest was now grinning from ear-to-ear.

An Astonishing Miracle
‘Why Bring the Infants to Hakhel?’
(Chagigah 3a)

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

e are in a time of serious crisis and must go beyond our present levels of chesed.

According to Ibn Ezra, the Torah was stressing through this covenant that hypocrisy was forbidden.

“Tony said that the code in most places in the U.S. is at least 36 inches for a residential guardrail,” replied Mr. Braun. “Some make it higher, 42, or even 52 inches for high porches. What is the required height according to halacha?”

Simcha is total; sahs is God’s joy in protecting us even when we are most vulnerable.

Not only do we accept You as our King, it is our greatest desire that the name of Your Kingdom be spread throughout the entire universe.

More Articles from Rabbi Meir Orlian
Business-Halacha-logo

“Tony said that the code in most places in the U.S. is at least 36 inches for a residential guardrail,” replied Mr. Braun. “Some make it higher, 42, or even 52 inches for high porches. What is the required height according to halacha?”

Business-Halacha-logo

“The Torah states in Parshat Ki-Teitzei: ‘If you build a new house, you shall make a fence for your roof. I think it’s your responsibility.”

On Friday afternoon, Dov called Kalman. “Please make sure to return the keys for the car on Motzaei Shabbos,” he said. “We have a bris on Sunday morning and we’re all going. We also need the roof luggage bag.”

“We’re leining now, and shouldn’t be talking,” Mr. Silver gently quieted his son. “At the Shabbos table we can discuss it at length.”

“Guess what?” Benzion exclaimed when he returned home. “I just won an identical Mishnah Berurah in the avos u’banim raffle.”

“Do I have to repay the loan?” he asked. “Does Yosef have to reimburse me? What if doesn’t have that sum, does he owe me in the future?”

When Yoram got home that evening, he went over to Effy: “My day camp is looking for extra supervision for an overnight trip,” he said. “Would you like to come? They’re paying $250 for the trip.”

“I’ll make you a deal,” he said. “If you pay monthly – it’s $4,500; if you pay six months up front – I’ll give it to you for $4,200.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/unmarked-stamp/2013/07/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: