web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 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.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Must A Judge Return A Bribe?


Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

This column is dedicated to the refuah sheleimah of Shlomo Eliezer ben Chaya Sarah Elka.

One of the many halachos written in this week’s parshah is the prohibition for a judge to accept a bribe. The Torah testifies that bribery works and can blind the eyes of the righteous; thus it is forbidden to accept any form of bribery – even for one to judge correctly.

The Rambam writes in Hilchos Sanhedrin 23:1 that if one transgressed and accepted a bribe, he must return the bribe to the one who gave the bribe when it is requested to be returned. The Rambam’s implication is that even though the judge wrongfully took the money, he is not required to return the money until it is requested of him. This differs from most other instances whereby one wrongfully took money from another person. For example, when one steals money from another person the thief is obligated to return the money regardless of whether the victim of the theft requests the money. However, regarding returning a bribe, the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch in Choshen Mishpat (C.M.) 9:1 imply that one is not required to return the bribe unless it is requested of him.

The S’mah (C.M. 9:3) explains that one is not required to return the money if it is not requested of him because it was given to him willingly. Whenever one was wrongfully given money willingly, one need not return it unless it is requested of him. The S’mah continues by saying that there is one exception to this rule: giving interest on a loan. One may not pay interest on a loan; if he does, the lender must return the money. Even though the borrower willingly gave the interest to his lender, the S’mah says that the lender must return the interest payment even if the borrower does not request it from him.

The Taz disagrees with the S’mah and says that the same rule applies to interest payments as well and that the lender need not return the money unless the borrower requests it from him. However, regarding a bribe, both agree that one need not return the money unless it is requested of him.

The Minchas Chinuch (mitzvah 83) and the Tumim (C.M. 9:2) explain that the reason that one need not return the money that was given as a bribe, unless the one who gave it requests it back, is because since he willingly gave it we consider as if he has forgiven (mochel) the owed money until he requests it back. Once he requests it back we can no longer assume that he is being mochel him the money that is owed him. Therefore, regarding a bribe and (according to several Acharonim) interest payments, one who gave the money willingly is assumed to have forgiven the money until further notice. This forgiveness is not a complete forgiveness, for when one genuinely forgives another person money that he is owed, he cannot later retract his forgiveness. But here it is not a complete forgiveness.

The Rambam (Hilchos Malveh V’loveh 4:13) and the Rush (Baba Metzia 5:2) bring an opinion that states that a borrower cannot forgive his lender from returning the interest payments to him; rather, the lender must return the money even against the will of the borrower. The Rambam and the Rush disagree with this opinion, saying that the borrower may forgive his lender and allow him to keep the interest payment. They explain that this is because once one pays interest the lender is obligated to return the money – as if he had stolen it. When one steals money the one who was robbed may forgive the thief, allowing him to keep the stolen goods, just as one may forgive any debt that is owed him. However, the opinion that the Rambam and the Rush quote, that a borrower may not forgive a lender the interest payment, should also hold that the lender must return the money even if it is not requested of him. This is because the reason that a lender does not need to return the interest until it is requested is because we view this situation to be as if the borrower forgave the lender the money. Yet, according to this opinion, a borrower may not forgive his lender from returning the interest payment. Therefore the lender would be obligated to return the interest even if it is not requested of him, since it could not have been forgiven.

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.

One Response to “Must A Judge Return A Bribe?”

  1. Mark Peters says:

    I assume that in their minds to give the bribe which they should have never took to a charitable cause.Might I suggest the refugee relief fund for Gaza.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jews Against Genocide mimicked and blasphemed the ALS Ice Bucket  Challenge with their anti-Israel "Blood Bucket Challenge."
‘Jews Against Genocide’ Take ‘Blood Bucket Challenge’ at Yad Vashem [video]
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

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

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

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

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

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

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

They ask, how can Rabbeinu Gershom forbid marrying more than one wife, when the Torah explicitly permits it in this parshah?

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

According to Rabbi Yishmael one was not permitted to eat such an animal prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, while according to Rabbi Akiva one was permitted to eat animals if he would perform nechirah.

Tosafos there takes issue with Rashi’s view that the letters that are formed in the knots of the tefillin are considered part of the name of Hashem.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/must-a-judge-return-a-bribe/2013/02/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: