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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Ketzos Hachoshen’

Divorce And Monetary Documents

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

The pasuk from which most of the halachos of gittin (divorce) are derived is in this week’s parshah. The pasuk says: “Ki yikach ish isha… vechasav lah sefer kerisus v’nasan b’yadah veshilchah mi’beiso – If a man marries a woman … and he wrote her a bill of divorce and placed it in her hand and sent her from his house” (Devarim 24:1).

Generally, the divorce process is when a husband writes a document of divorce and gives it to his wife. One halacha that results from this pasuk is that the husband or his agent must put the get in the hand (or possession) of his wife in order for the get to be valid. But this is problematic, for the rabbanan decreed that everything that a married woman acquires belongs to her husband. How then could the husband put the get into her possession if wherever he places it will acquire for him what he already owns? Even directly placing the get in her hands will be considered as if he gave it to himself, as she essentially has no property that belongs to her. Even property that she owned prior to their marriage is considered as belonging to her husband.

The Gemara in Gittin 77b answers that there is a concept called “gitta veyada ba’im k’echad – her get and her hand come together.” This means that since, if the get would be valid, she would have a hand of her own to receive the get, we thus credit her with already having her hand in this transaction – and the get is as valid as if he put it in her hand. The Gemara says that this rule also applies in a scenario whereby the husband places the get in her property. This is so since if the transaction would materialize, the property would belong to her, and we grant the property to her in order to facilitate the transaction.

The Ketzos Hachoshen (200:5) speculates as to whether we can apply this concept to monetary transactions as well. For example, if Reuven wants to give property to Shimon as a gift, one of the ways that property is acquired is by writing a shtar (document) and giving it to the buyer or to his property – similar to a get. Could Reuven place the gift document in the property and tell Shimon that he has given him the property? Would we say or not say that his property and his gift are combined? Since in order to acquire the property, Shimon needs to own the property that contains the document. And if he would own the property (the document would be in his possession) and therefore have the property acquired for him, perhaps it is a valid transaction – just as it is by a get.

The Ketzos Hachoshen then rules that this concept does not apply to monetary transactions. He explains that it can only be applicable to the scenario of a get. This is because there is a fundamental difference between the situations when a husband must “give” his wife a get and when a monetary document must change hands in order to activate a transaction. Regarding a real estate transaction, it is not sufficient to merely give the document to the buyer; rather, the buyer must acquire the document. Regarding a get, the woman need not acquire the get document; rather, the husband must merely place it in her hand or on her property. Since she does not need to acquire the get, the Gemara says that we can apply the concept of gitta veyada ba’im k’echad. The idea is that since she does not have to acquire the document and it only has to be considered on her property, we say that it is already considered to be her property – since we grant the fact that it will become her property. However, in a scenario whereby one must acquire the document in order for the transaction to take place, we cannot advance the property together with the transaction.

From the halacha that one may write a get on something from which it is forbidden to gain benefit, the Ketzos Hachoshen proves that a woman does not have to acquire her get in order for the divorce to be valid. The Rashba’s view is that anything that is forbidden to derive benefit from is not acquirable. If a woman is indeed required to acquire her get, how can it be valid when it is written on something that is not acquirable? Additionally, a man may force his wife to receive a get min haTorah. There is no acquisition that can take place against one’s will. The Ketzos draws from here that in fact a woman does not need to acquire her get; therefore the concept of gitta veyada ba’im k’echad only applies to a get and not to monetary transactions.

Father’s Pledge

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Mr. Gottlieb, though not wealthy, was known for his generosity. He scrupulously gave 10 percent of his earnings to charity, and often much more. Among his regular charities was Yeshivas Ohr Israel. At the recent Dinner, Mr. Gottlieb pledged $10,000 toward the Yeshiva’s scholarship fund.

Two weeks later, Mr. Gottlieb passed away, before he had a chance to honor his pledge. His inheritance went to his only child, Dovi. After the shiva was concluded, Dovi received a visit from the financial administrator of Ohr Israel, Mr. Goldin.

“Your father pledged $10,000 to the yeshiva’s scholarship fund two weeks before his death,” Mr. Goldin said. “Honoring your father’s pledge promptly would be a great merit for his memory.”

Dovi, however, was hesitant. He did not particularly identify with Ohr Israel; his attitude toward it had always been somewhat distant. In addition, Dovi’s own financial situation was not stable.

“I affiliate myself with other Torah institutions and am experiencing my own financial issues at the moment,” replied Dovi. “I don’t see myself donating to Ohr Israel.”

“But your father already pledged that amount,” Mr. Goldin said. “You owe us the money.” “Did my father sign any agreement with the yeshiva or make any other binding commitment?” asked Dovi.

“It was a verbal pledge,” acknowledged Mr. Goldin. “But verbal commitments also have to be honored, particularly charity pledges.”

“My father pledged that amount,” said Dovi. “I never pledged it to you.”

“But when he made the pledge, he committed his money to the yeshiva,” said Mr. Goldin. “We’re not asking you to donate your own money, only from your father’s estate.”

“That money is now mine,” responded Dovi. “There’s no difference between my money from before and what I inherited from my father. If nothing was committed in writing, his pledge doesn’t obligate me to donate.”

“Perhaps you don’t share your father’s enthusiasm for Ohr Israel,” said Mr. Goldin. “But it still seems to me that, as his heir, you are obligated to honor also his verbal pledges.”

“I am not convinced,” said Dovi. “I will verify the matter and get back to you in a week.”

“Thank you for your time,” said Mr. Goldin. “We hope that you will decide to honor your father’s pledge as a merit to his soul, regardless.”

Dovi called Rabbi Dayan and asked if he could advise him on the matter: “Am I required to honor my father’s verbal pledge?”

“Whether an heir is obligated to honor his inheritor’s verbal pledge is the subject of an intricate dispute,” said Rabbi Dayan.

“Oh, really?” exclaimed Dovi. “Who discusses the issue?”

“This case was disputed outright by the mechaber, Rav Yosef Karo, and the Rama,” said Rabbi Dayan. “A person pledged a sum of money to the poor of Eretz Yisrael in his will. The heirs challenged the will, claiming it was not drafted properly. Rav Karo upheld the will for a number of reasons. One was that even if the will was not drafted properly, a verbal pledge to charity is also fully binding. The Rama [Responsa #47-48:3] disagreed with him, arguing that a charity pledge is considered a vow a person must fulfill, but does not obligate the heirs if not contractually binding through a properly drafted will or another form of kinyan. Interestingly, in that particular case the Rama enforced the ruling of Rav Karo anyway, out of his great respect for him.”

“Is this dispute reflected in Shulchan Aruch?” asked Dovi.

“Yes,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “The Shulchan Aruch [C.M. 212:7] writes that if someone pledged to charity before his death future income from his real estate, it must be given to the poor, even though such a future agreement is not contractually binding. The Rama comments that only the person himself must fulfill his pledge as a vow, but not if he died already. Ketzos Hachoshen [290:3] explains that the crux of the issue is whether the requirement to honor one’s charity pledge generates a legal obligation, a lien, on the money.”

“So I don’t have to honor my father’s verbal pledge according to the Rama?” said Dovi.

“You cannot be forced, though the issue is not simple,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “A number of authorities maintain that even the Rama concedes that the vow creates a legal obligation when the assets are already in existence. [See SM"A 212:21; Pischei Teshuvah 212:9 citing Chasam Sofer.] Furthermore, if the father already set aside the money before he died, the heirs are required to give it.” (Nesivos 250:4; Tzedaka U’Mishpat 4:28-29)

“What about the issue of honoring my father?” asked Dovi.

“If a person instructed his children to give the money, there is kibbud av in fulfilling his words,” replied Rabbi Dayan. (Pischei Teshuva 252:3) “There is also no doubt that fulfilling his charity pledge is a way of bringing him great merit and serves as a proper tribute to his neshamah.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/fathers-pledge/2012/05/03/

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