web analytics
December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Are We Better Than The Residents Of Sedom?


Parsha-Perspectives-logo

We learn in this week’s parshah about the wickedness and demise of the residents of Sedom. Further, we learn from medrashim that the residents of Sedom did not show much hospitality. Similarly, the mishnah in Avos 5:10 says that there are four different types of middos that people live by. The first is one who says, “What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours.” The mishnah says that this is an intermediate middah; others say that this is middas Sedom. Rashi, in Kesubos 103a, says that the people in Sedom would not allow anyone to benefit from their possessions even if it would be of no loss to them.

Surely we are all familiar with the wickedness that is associated with the people of Sedom, and none of us would consider ourselves to be among the people of Sedom. However, there are certain interesting scenarios whereby the halacha is influenced by the concept of not being like the people of Sedom. This is known as “kofin al middas Sedom – we force one not to act like the people of Sedom.”

Here is one example: The Gemara in Baba Kama 20a discusses the situation when one lived in another person’s vacant home that would not have been rented. The Gemara discusses whether he is exempt from paying the owner for his stay. The Gemara says that the reason that he would be exempt is because the squatter can say to the owner, “you did not take a loss from the fact that I [the squatter] lived in your house.” This halacha applies even if the squatter would have otherwise rented another place had he not stayed in this house free of charge. This is called “zeh neheneh, v’zeh lo chaser – this one benefited, and this one did not lose.” This is a matter of dispute in the Gemara; the conclusion is that the squatter is exempt.

To make this a bit more applicable, let’s say one broke into and stayed in your summer home in the winter when you were not there. He would be exempt from paying you any rent since you would not have otherwise rented your house and there is no loss to you. Most Rishonim say, however, that one has the right to deny someone else access to his vacant home. The discussion in the Gemara only concerns one who has already lived in the house.

The P’nei Yehoshua learns that the reason for this is because of “kofin al middas Sedom.” Since you did not suffer any loss, even though someone else benefited from your belongings, the beneficiary is exempt from paying you for his gain. But if there is any loss to you, even a minor loss such as the walls having become blackened, the squatter is liable to pay all of the rent.

The Gemara also says that if the squatter would have otherwise rented another apartment and you would have otherwise rented your house, he is liable to pay rent. This is referred to as “zeh neheneh, v’zeh chaser – this one benefited and this one lost.”

The Gemara does not discuss, however, the scenario whereby you would have rented out the house but the squatter would not have rented another house, i.e. he has another place to stay. This circumstance is a dispute among the Rishonim. The Rif says that he is liable; Tosafos says that he is exempt because he did not derive any monetary benefit. The loss that the owner incurred is not a direct damage from the squatter, and he is therefore exempt.

The Acharonim are bothered by the following question: according to Tosafos’s view the squatter is exempt when there is a loss to the owner had he not rented another apartment. Why then should he pay for the rent when he would have rented another apartment? He should not pay for the benefit just as he is exempt when the owner would have not rented it out. Additionally, he should not pay for the owner’s loss of rent because, as Tosafos explained, it is an indirect damage.

The P’nei Yehoshua explains that the reason why one is exempt from paying the owner when he derives a monetary benefit at no cost to the owner is because we force the owner to not act like the people of Sedom. However, when the owner endures a loss, we cannot apply this concept because he has the right to be compensated for having incurred a loss. Therefore, when a loss is involved, the squatter must compensate the owner if he derived a monetary benefit from the owner’s possessions.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.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 “Are We Better Than The Residents Of Sedom?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Feiglin - Ani Yehudi
Moshe Feiglin Drops Out of Likud PM Race
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich

“Can you hear what the dead are whispering? Leave Galut, escape to Eretz Israel-Lech lecha!”

Ancient stone with "House of David" inscription.

The ‘homely’ ancient rock, discovered in 1993, adds evidence of King David’s existence.

Chanukah is the holiday of liberty, combining The Book (faith and dedication to God) and the sword

Yehuda knew if the moment isn’t right or men are unwilling to listen a skilled leader bides his time

This is a recurring theme in this week’s parsha, in which there are many mistakes made based on perception.

“A person should sell even the beams of his own house in order to buy shoes.”

“I do not owe anything,” Mr. Feder replied. “However, if I must come – I will.”

If Hashem is watching tzaddikim, why couldn’t He just save Yosef from all the suffering he was about to endure?

Jacob was well aware that the brothers hated Joseph, yet he sent him to them anyway.

No Fault Lines
‘…His Father And Mother Were In Prison…’
(Yevamos 71b)

The child of a Jewish mother from a union with a non-Jewish father is not a mamzer.

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)

And so it was that both those women whose lives had been saved in Yerushalayim only about a month earlier, were now in a Manhattan hospital with the woman who inadvertently had helped save their lives.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

But how could there have been any validity to Yosef’s allegations?

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

If one converts for the sole purpose of marrying a Jew the conversion is invalid.

Rashi in Shabbos 9b writes that the reason why the tefillah of Ma’ariv is a reshus is because it was instituted corresponding to the burning of the eimurim from the korbanos – which was performed at night.

We find that in certain circumstances before the Torah was actually given, people were permitted to make calculations as to what would better serve Hashem, even if it were against a mitzvah or aveirah.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

The implication of the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 233:2) is that one may not daven Minchah before six and one half hours into the day.

Some Rishonim are bothered by the opinion of the Rambam that bnei Noach are commanded not to eat basar min hachai.

According to the Raavad if one who is uncircumcised breaks something he will be exempt from paying for it since he was chayav kares at the same time as he was obligated to repay for the item he broke.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/are-we-better-than-the-residents-of-sedom/2012/11/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: