web analytics
February 27, 2015 / 8 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


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)

Rabbi Dayan paused before concluding, “Thus, it is problematic to reuse a stamp, whether in the U.S. or in Israel, for one reason or another.”

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.

Current Top Story
Said Arikat, al-Quds Washington, D.C. reporter. Jan. 29, 2015
Said Says (Falsely): ‘Israel flooding Gaza with Waste Water’
Latest Judaism Stories
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

The-Shmuz

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Moreover, even if the perpetrator of the capital offense is never actually executed, such as when the fatal act was unintentional, Kam Lei applies and the judge cannot award damages.

Daf-Yomi-logo

Forever After?
‘Obligated for Challahh and Not Terumah’
(Kesubos 25a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

“We really appreciate your efforts in straightening the shul,” said Mr. Reiss. “How is it going?”

This was a spontaneous act of rest after the miracle of vanquishing their respective foes. The following year they celebrated on the same days as a minhag.

The way we must to relate to our young adult children is to communicate with genuine loving-kindness

Jewish prayer is a convergence of 2 modes of biblical spirituality, exemplified by Moses and Aaron

In holy places it’s important to maintain a level of silence permitting people to dialogue with God

Eventually, after some trial and error, including an experience with a prima donna and one with a thief, I baruch Hashem ultimately found a fine, honest and reliable household helper.

What fish-like characteristics does this month have that it should be exemplified in such a way?

How the 3 partitions of the mishkan each relate to a layer of creation, aiding our connection to God

Havdalah.com will be streaming an inspiring/live/MUSICAL/global Havdalah(NOT to fulfill obligation)

What about the Temple service required God to intervene commanding Aaron what he needed to wear?

More Articles from Rabbi Meir Orlian
Business-Halacha-logo

“We really appreciate your efforts in straightening the shul,” said Mr. Reiss. “How is it going?”

Business-Halacha-logo

“Halacha differentiates between giving a gift, forgoing a debt [mechila], and granting permission to take something,” answered Rabbi Dayan.

“I don’t accept this,” said Mr. Zummer. “I want you to finish! You’re not allowed to just stop in the middle!”

“That’s what you’re wondering?” laughed Mr. Rubin. “That ring is not mine at all. A relative gave me money to buy it for him.”

“How could you have expected my glasses to be there?” argued Mr. Weiss. “You shouldn’t have to pay.”

“It means that the disqualification of relatives as witnesses is a procedural issue, not a question of honesty,” explained Rabbi Dayan.

“The issue is not just logistical,” replied Mr. Kahn. “I thought that halacha requires that the beginning of the adjudication and acceptance of testimony be during daytime.” (C.M. 5:2; 28:24)

A few days, Mrs. Feldman called back. “I would prefer a nice cake rather than the chocolate.”

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: