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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Dayan’

Forgotten Fill-Up

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

“We are pleased to announce we have been donated a car for communal use,” read the sign in Kollel Mishpat. “Members of the Kollel can use the car g’mach, as available, in coordination with Dani.”

“Wow!” said Yossi. “How much is usage?”

“The charge is 50 cents per mile, to cover gasoline and wear and tear,” said Dani. “Payment is due immediately upon returning the car. If you fill up with gas, the g’mach will refund you that amount.”

“I have an appointment next Tuesday afternoon,” said Yossi. “Is the car available then?”

“Yes,” said Dani. “I’ll write you down.”

Yossi picked up the keys on Tuesday afternoon. “I should be back in about five hours,” he said.

“There’s not much gas in the car,” said Dani. “You’ll probably have to add gas on the way home.”

Yossi drove to his appointment 30 miles away. On the way home, he pulled into the gas station.

“How much gas should I put in?” Yossi thought to himself. He checked his wallet. “I’ve only got $40 cash. Should I put in $10, $20, or $30?” After deliberating a moment, he paid the attendant and proceeded to the pump.

When Yossi came home, his wife said, “While you have the car, there are a few more errands to do.”

Yossi returned just before Minchah. He gave the keys to Dani, and said, “I’ve got to run to minchah now! We’ll settle later.”

A month later, Dani gave Yossi a call. “I was reviewing the car log,” he said. “You drove 60 miles, which is $30, but no payment was listed.”

“You’re right,” Yossi apologized, “I forgot to take care of it, but I purchased gas.”

“That’s fine,” said Dani. “We reimburse for that. How much did you put in?”

“It’s funny, but I don’t remember anymore,” said Yossi. “I remember debating, though, whether to put in 10, 20, or 30 dollars.” He tried very hard to jar his memory, but couldn’t.

“It’s a pity you didn’t pay on time, like you were supposed to,” said Dani. “Then we wouldn’t have had this problem. Ask Rabbi Dayan how to deal with this.”

Yossi called Rabbi Dayan. “I owe the car g’mach $30, but purchased gas on the way home,” he said. “I don’t remember, though, whether I added $10, $20 or $30. Should I assume the least, most, or middle amount?”

“This issue seems to be an intricate dispute between the Ketzos Hachoshen and the Nesivos Hamishpat,” said Rabbi Dayan, “although there is an additional factor here.”

“Oh?” said Yossi. “I didn’t think it would be so complicated.”

“In general, when neither the lender nor the borrower remembers whether the loan was repaid,” explained Rabbi Dayan, “the person cannot be made to pay in beis din, and there is even a dispute whether he has a moral obligation to pay, latzeis yedei shamayim.” (See Taz 75:10; Shach 75:65-67; Pischei Teshuvah 75:21)

“This seems to be our case,” said Yossi. “Neither of us knows whether I repaid the loan by purchasing the gasoline.”

“It seems so at first,” said Rabbi Dayan, “but our case is somewhat different.”

“In what way?” asked Yossi.

“In our case, you have a definite obligation of $30 for using the car, which you did not repay, and there is a possible counter obligation of $10-30 for the gas you bought,” said Rabbi Dayan. “The Ketzos Hachosen [75:5] differentiates between a possible repayment and a counter obligation. When there are two counterclaims, the Ketzos reasons that we treat each obligation independently. The obligation of $30 is clear, whereas the counter obligation for the gasoline is questionable, so that we have to assume the minimal amount of $10. As such you remain obligated for $20.”

“You mentioned that the Nesivos argues,” said Yossi.

“Yes. The Nesivos Hamishpat [75:5] reasons that the counter obligation is considered a form of repayment,” said Rabbi Dayan. “As such, this case is also considered one of possible repayment where neither party knows, so that there remains, at most, a moral obligation.”

“Nonetheless, in this particular case, there is an additional reason to obligate you,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “This is because the uncertainty arose because of your negligence. In a normal situation where neither the borrower nor the lender remembers whether the loan was repaid, both parties are equally at fault. Furthermore, it is understandable that people sometimes forget.

“Here, however, had you paid in a timely manner according to the rules, you would have known how much you spent on gas. Only because you delayed so much did the doubt arise, so that you cannot hide behind the veil of forgetfulness. Therefore, you can assume only the lower amount of $10, and must repay the remaining $20.” (See Pischei Choshen, Halva’ah, ch. 2, note 78; Nesivos 75:5)

‘Forget About It!’

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Yanky was going through difficult times. “My company merged over a year ago and I got laid off,” he poured his heart out to Moish, a neighbor. “I’ve been trying everywhere to get a job, but nothing’s available.”

“How have you been managing meanwhile?” asked Moish.

“Barely, with my wife’s salary and savings,” said Yanky. “Yom Tov was very difficult with all the expenses.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Moish consolingly. “Is there some way I can help?”

“If you could lend us $1,000 for four months that would help greatly,” said Yanky. “I expect that I should be able to find something by then.”

“I can do that,” replied Moish. “Come by tomorrow. I just ask that you write an IOU note for the loan.”

“Definitely,” replied Yanky. “It’s always best to have a written record.”

The following day, Yanky stopped by Moish’s house and received the loan. “We will make every effort to repay on time,” he said.

Three months later, Moish was talking with Yanky. “What’s doing?” he asked. “Any leads with a new job?”

“Unfortunately, nothing yet,” said Yanky. “I had a couple of interviews, but nothing’s panned out.”

“I wish you hatzlacha (success),” Moish encouraged him.

“Thank you,” said Yanky. “We’ve been setting aside a little each month toward repaying you, but now the transmission went on the car. We’re going to have to use that money to cover the repair!”

“How much is the repair?” asked Moish.

“It’s almost $2,000,” said Yanky with a sigh.

Moish thought for a moment. “You’ve got too much on your head,” he said. “Forget about the loan; you don’t have to repay it.”

“Thank you,” said Yanky. “That will be a big burden off of me.”

A week later, Yanky met Moish. “Guess what?” he said. “I just found a job!”

“I’m happy to hear,” said Moish. “How did you get it?”

“It’s a funny story,” responded Yanky. “I’ll tell you about in another time. At least we’re back to two salaries again.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” said Moish. “So you’ll be able to pay me back the $1,000 sometime soon?”

“But you told me to forget about the loan,” said Yanky with surprise.

“I did,” said Moish. “But that was because I thought you wouldn’t be able to come out from under.  It’s not like I can easily afford to forgo $1,000. Anyway, I didn’t sign any release or receipt and I’m still holding the IOU.”

“I don’t understand you,” said Yanky. “I am thankful for the loan, but you told me I didn’t have to repay! We’re not rolling in money, and a word is a word!”

“Not if said mistakenly,” said Moish. “Anyway, words alone do not always carry legal validity, especially when a document remains extant.”

“I suggest that we consult with Rabbi Dayan,” said Yanky. “If he says that I still have to pay, I will.”

Yanky and Moish arranged to meet with Rabbi Dayan. He listened attentively, and then ruled: “Yanky does not have to repay the loan, even though no formal release was made.”

“Why is that?” asked Moish.

“When you said to Yanky, ‘Forget about the loan; you don’t have to repay it,’ it is considered mechila [forgoing the loan],” explained Rabbi Dayan. “Although most transactions require some formal act or document to be legally valid, mechila is valid with words alone; it does not require any official confirmation, receipt, or kinyan [act of transaction].” (C.M. 241:2)

“But doesn’t the fact that I continued to hold on to the IOU note negate the mechila?” asked Moish.

“There is, in fact, a dispute whether mechila with words alone is valid when the lender continues to possess a loan document [shtar],” replied Rabbi Dayan. “However, the Rama indicates that it is valid. Even if we consider the dispute as in doubt, Yanky is in possession of the money and cannot be made to pay. Furthermore, the dispute relates to a loan document signed by witnesses, not an IOU note signed by the borrower alone.” (Shach 241:4; Pischei Teshuvah 241:2)

“What about the fact that the mechila was made by mistake,” argued Moish. “I wouldn’t have been willing to forgo the loan if I had known that he would get a job a week later.”

“You are correct that a mechila made mistakenly is not valid,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “However, this applies only when there was a mistake at the time of the mechila, such as if Yanky had already found a new job. However, if there was no mistake at the time and circumstances changed afterward, the mechila remains valid.” (Pischei Teshuvah 241:3)

“Therefore,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “Yanky does not have to repay the loan and Moish must return the IOU note to him.”

Does Borrowing Pay?

Thursday, March 11th, 2010
“Pesach is just around the corner,” was Mrs. Adler’s motto. She began planning right after Tu B’Shevat, started cleaning after Purim, and limited food to the kitchen from Rosh Chodesh Nisan.
The star of Pesach cleaning was her trusted Hoover canister vacuum cleaner. Mrs. Adler ran it over the carpets and wooden floors, poked it into all the cabinets and every nook and cranny, and left not a speck on the couch and beds. It was the most expensive model, but its powerful suction and versatility made it worth the cost, for Pesach.
One morning, while Mrs. Adler was vacuuming, the doorbell rang. “C’mon in, Sally” she called to her closest neighbor, Sally Baum, who lived down the hall.
“How’s Pesach coming along?” asked Mrs. Baum.
            ”So far, I’ve managed to keep on schedule,” replied Mrs. Adler. “I hate the last minute rush.”
“Any new tips?” asked Mrs. Baum.
“Sure,” said Mrs. Adler. “Here’s one from ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ about removing oil stains from stovetops. Here’s another one I found online about washing sweaters without pilling.”
“I just wish I had a better vacuum,” lamented Mrs. Baum. “Mine works on the carpet, but not on fabrics and hard surfaces.”

“Mine is great,” glowed Mrs. Adler. “I’m using it now, but you can borrow it tonight.”

In the evening, Mrs. Baum sent her son to pick up the vacuum. “Don’t forget to say, ‘Thank you,’ ” she reminded him.
Armed with the vacuum, Mrs. Baum went around the edges of the rooms and poked with the crevice tool behind the cabinets. She started to clean the couch.
“Hi, Sally,” she heard her husband’s voice.
Mrs. Baum looked up. “Welcome home,” she replied. “You know that Mrs. Adler always says, ‘Pesach is just around the corner.’ Well, now it really is.”
“Where’s that fancy new vacuum from?” inquired her husband. “You know that we have more urgent expenditures for Pesach.”
“Don’t worry,” laughed Mrs. Baum. “I didn’t spend a penny; Mrs. Adler was kind enough to lend us hers for the evening. Come have supper.”
After supper, Mrs. Baum continued vacuuming. Without warning, the vacuum suddenly sparked and the electricity blew. “What happened?” called out Mr. Baum. “I’m not sure,” answered his wife. “It seems that the vacuum blew the fuse.”
Mr. Baum unplugged the machine and replaced the fuse. “That was strange,” he said. “We never have problems with the electricity.”
“Back to work,” said Mrs. Baum as she plugged the vacuum in. She pressed the button but nothing happened. She pressed again, with no response. She tried a different outlet; still nothing.
“The motor died,” groaned Mrs. Baum. “How am I going to face Mrs. Adler? She relies on this machine for everything!”
“We’ll have to buy her a new one,” said her husband. “We can’t afford this now, but we have no choice.” Mrs. Baum walked down the hall to the Adlers with the broken vacuum and $500.
Mrs. Adler greeted her, “Finished already Sally? You’re fast.”
“I’m really sorry, but the vacuum broke,” said Mrs. Baum.
“Please tell me you’re kidding.” said Mrs. Adler. “I’ll never manage without it.”
“Really, it’s broken,” said Mrs. Baum. “I was using it and it just went. But I brought you money to buy a new one.”
Mr. Adler walked over. “Is there a chance that you overtaxed the machine? Sucked up something that clogged the airflow?”
“No,” said Mrs. Baum. “I was using it normally. But what’s the difference? When you borrow something you’re responsible no matter what.”
“That’s usually true,” said Mr. Adler. “However, I remember learning that if the item breaks or dies through normal usage the borrower is exempt. I’ll ask Rabbi Dayan at the Daf tonight.”
After the Daf, Mr. Baum walked home with Rabbi Dayan and asked about the vacuum. “You are correct,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “When you borrow something you are responsible even for freak accidents, but if it dies or breaks on account of the work for which it was borrowed – you are exempt. This is called ‘meisah machmas melachah‘” (C.M. 340:1).
            “Why should this be?” asked Mr. Baum.
“The Gemara (B.M. 96b) explains that the owner lent the item with the understanding that it be used; therefore, he accepted the consequences of this usage,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “However, there are two caveats. First, the borrower is exempt only if he used the item for the purpose for which it was lent, but if he used it in even a slightly different manner he is responsible. He does not need to buy a brand new machine, though, but only to pay for the actual loss (344:2).”
“The second caveat,” continued Rabbi Dayan, “is that the borrower must prove with witnesses or take a solemn oath in beis din that the item broke during the course of work to be exempt, unless the lender completely trusts him” (344:1).

“Thus, if you trust Mrs. Baum that the vacuum died during routine use, she is exempt,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “If she wants to pay something as a neighborly gesture, that’s fine, but it’s important to know the halacha.”

 

Rabbi Meir Orlian is a member of the Business Halacha Institute faculty, which is headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, shlita, a dayan in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Institute provides a wide range of services related to money and property issues, including weekly classes for businessmen in various cities.

For questions regarding halachic monetary issues or to bring BHI to your synagogue please call 877-845-8455 or e-mail ask@businesshalacha.

Fruit Of The Land

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
“This week is Tu B’Shevat,” announced Rabbi Dayan. “We celebrate the ‘New Year’ of trees with produce of Eretz Yisrael. However, the Israeli Rabbinate does not take full responsibility for Terumos and Ma’asros to export produce. So, unless the produce is marked as tithed, it is proper to take Terumos and Ma’asros yourself.”
“But I thought that only applies in Israel,” commented Mr. Greenberg.
Rabbi Dayan answered, “Fruit grown in Israel is obligated in tithes even when eaten in America.”
Mr. Greenberg checked his fruit store for Israeli produce, and found Jaffa oranges, Israeli pomegranates and many more fruits and vegetables. He bought a bag of each and wondered, “What do I do now?” he wondered.
 Mr. Greenberg invited his knowledgeable neighbor, Mr. Weiss, to advise him.
“Tithing involves four steps,” explained Mr. Weiss. “First, cut off somewhat more than one percent of the produce. Second, designate a coin to redeem the Ma’aser Sheni. Take a quarter, since that allows you to redeem a few times.”
             Mr. Greenberg cut off a small piece of each type of produce and got a quarter. “Now what?”
“Third,” continued Mr. Levy, “recite the Terumos and Ma’asros text whereby you declare the various tithes, in a language you understand. Fourth, double wrap the 1+ percent that you cut and dispose of it, and destroy or discard the coin after a few uses.”
Mr. Greenberg recited the text, disposed of the fruit, which had been cut off, put away the quarter safely for additional redemptions, and thanked Mr. Weiss.
            “My pleasure,” smiled Mr. Weiss. “But I’ll take an orange, half a pomegranate,” and named some more of the produce. “Please hand them over.”
“Huh?” Mr. Greenberg looked at him blankly.
“You know I’m a Levi,” explained Mr. Weiss. “One of the tithes you just declared was Ma’aser Rishon given to the Levi. So I’d like 10 percent of each type “
            “Can you really collect 10 percent from everyone?” asked Mr. Greenberg.
“Why not?” retorted Mr. Weiss. “You declared Ma’aser Rishon and I’m a Levi, so you owe it to me or some other Levi.”
“Let’s check with Rabbi Dayan,” insisted Mr. Greenberg.”
 Mr. Greenberg, together with Mr. Weiss, called Rabbi Dayan. “Your question,” said Rabbi Dayan, “touches on the basics of Terumos and Ma’asros.
“The mitzvah of Terumos and Ma’asros has two parts. The first is to designate and declare Terumos and Ma’asros. Even nowadays we must do this and only after declaring tithes is the remaining fruit kosher.”
“The second part is to give the tithes to the relevant parties, the Kohen and the Levi.  The 1+ percent is the Kohen’s, but it must be eaten in purity. This is not possible nowadays, so we dispose of it respectfully.”
            “What about my 10 percent?” demanded Mr. Weiss.
“The Levi’s portion can be eaten nowadays. However, this brings us to the most fundamental principle of monetary law,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “That is: ‘One who demands of his friend has the burden of the proof.’ A person can demand money only if he can prove that he is definitely entitled to it.
“There is an element of doubt here. Tithes may have been taken by the Rabbinate, in which case the ‘tithing’ was superfluous. Mr. Greenberg declared Terumos and Ma’asros out of doubt, to make sure that the fruit would be kosher. However, when you demand that he hand over to you the 10 percent Levi portion, that’s a different story! This is now a monetary issue.

             “Demanding that Mr. Greenberg give you an orange places the burden of proof on you that Terumos and Ma’asros were not taken and that his tithing was meaningful. Otherwise, Mr. Greenberg can say, ‘Prove that I owe you this orange. Maybe it isn’t really Ma’aser.’ Furthermore, you have no proof of your lineage as a Levi, other than your own statement. Since no Levi can prove that he is definitely entitled to that orange of Ma’aser Rishon, Mr. Greenberg can retain possession of it and eat it.”

 

    Rabbi Meir Orlian is a Halacha writer for Machon L’Choshen Mishpat, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn. For more information visit www.machonmishpat.com.

Yizkor – Remember Your Pledge

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

    The shul was packed for Yizkor service. For Mr. Reuven Black this year was particularly poignant; it marked the tenth Yahrzeit of his father, who had passed away shortly after Pesach. He had decided to do something special in memory of his father.

   People began calling out their Yizkor pledges, which were being dedicated to the shul: “Twice chai! Five hundred dollars! Ten times chai!” Mr. Black straightened his tie and cleared his throat: “Ten thousand dollars to the shul in memory of the tenth yahrzeit of my father, z”l.” The astonished gabbai beamed with delight and wished him a hearty “Yashar koach.”

  Two weeks later, Mr. Black served as chazan on occasion of his father’s yahrzeit. Towards the end of leining, he prepared himself for Maftir. He expectantly listened to the gabbai, “Ya’amod Shimon ben Moshe – Maftir.” “Shimon ben Moshe?” Could he have heard wrong? Then he saw his neighbor, Shimon Katz, who also had yahrzeit that week, walking to the Torah

    Mr. Black was crestfallen; his face turned white. After such a donation to the shul, why had they not given him Maftir? What a disgrace to his father’s memory! Immediately after davening, he confronted the gabbai: “Don’t you remember my Yizkor pledge? Doesn’t my father’s memory deserve Maftir for that?”

   The gabbai stammered, “I apologize. You had Maftir last year, and I had written down that this year Shimon should get Maftir.” “Who cares!” protested Reuven. “I made a special donation to the shul this year on occasion of the tenth yahrzeit.” He raised his voice, “If the shul doesn’t properly appreciate the donation, I’m going to give the money to a different charity!” He turned around and left the shul.

   The gabbai tried to compose himself. Perhaps he should have given Mr. Black Maftir again, but he didn’t expect such a response. He waited a month, but no check was forthcoming…

   Gingerly, the gabbai approached Reuven: “I apologize if you feel slighted,” he said. “Nonetheless, you are required to honor your pledge to the shul.”

   Mr. Black paused for a moment. “I intend to honor the pledge in my father’s memory – but not to this shul!   It says in Gemara Arachin (6a) that if a person pledges money to charity – until it is handed over to the gabbai, it is permissible to change it.” The gabbai was baffled; he would have to leave this for the Rabbi to deal with.

   Later that evening, Rabbi Dayan invited Mr. Black to his office. “The Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 204:7) writes that it is proper for a person to honor his verbal commitments to another, even if not legally binding, and you pledged to our shul.” Reuven, however, wouldn’t hear. “I feel no moral obligation to the shul after the disgrace to my father’s memory by ‘cheating’ him of Maftir.”

    Rabbi Dayan calmly explained that Maftir is a merit to the deceased because the son leads the community in the blessing and reading of Maftir. “You served as chazan, and saying Kaddish additional times was also a tremendous merit.” Mr. Black, however, remained unimpressed: “I have already made up my mind. And since the money hasn’t been given to the gabbai yet, I am legally allowed to change it to another shul.”

   “Not so simple,” responded Rabbi Dayan. “Although Tosfos in Arachin first explains that before reaching the gabbai’s hand it is permissible to ‘change’ the pledge completely to a different purpose, they conclude that it is only permissible to ‘exchange’ the actual coins and use them until the charity is needed. The Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 259:1) cites the second interpretation.”

   Mr. Black remained adamant. “But what’s the difference whether I give to this shul or another; either way I’m giving the same amount and kind of charity?”

  Rabbi Dayan smiled. “You’re raising a fascinating issue, one that poskim wrestled with through the generations. Machaneh Ephraim (Tzedakah #7) and Ketzos HaChoshen (212:4) suggest that it should be possible to give the charity to someone else. However, Radbaz (IV: 1204) and Shach (C.M. 87:51) insist that you are required to give it to the person or shul to which you pledged. This is based on the principle of Amiraso LaGavohah k’amsiraso l’hedyot – A pledge to the Almighty is tantamount to an act of transaction with a person, and is legally binding.”

   “Bottom line, can I still do what I want?” asked Mr. Black.

   “Well,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “the Chasam Sofer (Y.D. #237) and Beis Yitzchak (Y.D. 82:13) rule that the majority of poskim require you to fulfill your pledge to the designated recipient. Therefore, you should give the money to the shul.”

    Mr. Black remained silent. Rabbi Dayan escorted him to the door and added softly, “Reuven, consider also that one of the greatest merits you can give your father is to follow in the footsteps of Aharon and avoid dispute.” “I’ll think about it,” said Mr. Black.

  A week later, Mr. Black handed the gabbai a sealed envelope. Inside was a check for $10,000 and a note: “In true merit for my father, I am enclosing my pledge and also ask forgiveness for having gotten angry at you.”

 

   Rabbi Meir Orlian is a halachah writer for Machon L’Choshen Mishpat. The Machon, which is headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, is committed to providing awareness, education and services in all areas of monetary issues that arise in our daily lives. For general questions, comments, or additional information, please call (877) MISHPAT (647-4728) or email info@machonmishpat.com. For questions regarding a halachic monetary issue, please call (877) 845-8455 or email  halachahotline@machonmishpat.com

Yizkor – Remember Your Pledge

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

    The shul was packed for Yizkor service. For Mr. Reuven Black this year was particularly poignant; it marked the tenth Yahrzeit of his father, who had passed away shortly after Pesach. He had decided to do something special in memory of his father.


   People began calling out their Yizkor pledges, which were being dedicated to the shul: “Twice chai! Five hundred dollars! Ten times chai!” Mr. Black straightened his tie and cleared his throat: “Ten thousand dollars to the shul in memory of the tenth yahrzeit of my father, z”l.” The astonished gabbai beamed with delight and wished him a hearty “Yashar koach.”


  Two weeks later, Mr. Black served as chazan on occasion of his father’s yahrzeit. Towards the end of leining, he prepared himself for Maftir. He expectantly listened to the gabbai, “Ya’amod Shimon ben Moshe – Maftir.” “Shimon ben Moshe?” Could he have heard wrong? Then he saw his neighbor, Shimon Katz, who also had yahrzeit that week, walking to the Torah


    Mr. Black was crestfallen; his face turned white. After such a donation to the shul, why had they not given him Maftir? What a disgrace to his father’s memory! Immediately after davening, he confronted the gabbai: “Don’t you remember my Yizkor pledge? Doesn’t my father’s memory deserve Maftir for that?”


   The gabbai stammered, “I apologize. You had Maftir last year, and I had written down that this year Shimon should get Maftir.” “Who cares!” protested Reuven. “I made a special donation to the shul this year on occasion of the tenth yahrzeit.” He raised his voice, “If the shul doesn’t properly appreciate the donation, I’m going to give the money to a different charity!” He turned around and left the shul.


   The gabbai tried to compose himself. Perhaps he should have given Mr. Black Maftir again, but he didn’t expect such a response. He waited a month, but no check was forthcoming…


   Gingerly, the gabbai approached Reuven: “I apologize if you feel slighted,” he said. “Nonetheless, you are required to honor your pledge to the shul.”


   Mr. Black paused for a moment. “I intend to honor the pledge in my father’s memory – but not to this shul!   It says in Gemara Arachin (6a) that if a person pledges money to charity – until it is handed over to the gabbai, it is permissible to change it.” The gabbai was baffled; he would have to leave this for the Rabbi to deal with.


   Later that evening, Rabbi Dayan invited Mr. Black to his office. “The Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 204:7) writes that it is proper for a person to honor his verbal commitments to another, even if not legally binding, and you pledged to our shul.” Reuven, however, wouldn’t hear. “I feel no moral obligation to the shul after the disgrace to my father’s memory by ‘cheating’ him of Maftir.”


    Rabbi Dayan calmly explained that Maftir is a merit to the deceased because the son leads the community in the blessing and reading of Maftir. “You served as chazan, and saying Kaddish additional times was also a tremendous merit.” Mr. Black, however, remained unimpressed: “I have already made up my mind. And since the money hasn’t been given to the gabbai yet, I am legally allowed to change it to another shul.”


   “Not so simple,” responded Rabbi Dayan. “Although Tosfos in Arachin first explains that before reaching the gabbai’s hand it is permissible to ‘change’ the pledge completely to a different purpose, they conclude that it is only permissible to ‘exchange’ the actual coins and use them until the charity is needed. The Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 259:1) cites the second interpretation.”


   Mr. Black remained adamant. “But what’s the difference whether I give to this shul or another; either way I’m giving the same amount and kind of charity?”


  Rabbi Dayan smiled. “You’re raising a fascinating issue, one that poskim wrestled with through the generations. Machaneh Ephraim (Tzedakah #7) and Ketzos HaChoshen (212:4) suggest that it should be possible to give the charity to someone else. However, Radbaz (IV: 1204) and Shach (C.M. 87:51) insist that you are required to give it to the person or shul to which you pledged. This is based on the principle of Amiraso LaGavohah k’amsiraso l’hedyot – A pledge to the Almighty is tantamount to an act of transaction with a person, and is legally binding.”


   “Bottom line, can I still do what I want?” asked Mr. Black.


   “Well,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “the Chasam Sofer (Y.D. #237) and Beis Yitzchak (Y.D. 82:13) rule that the majority of poskim require you to fulfill your pledge to the designated recipient. Therefore, you should give the money to the shul.”


    Mr. Black remained silent. Rabbi Dayan escorted him to the door and added softly, “Reuven, consider also that one of the greatest merits you can give your father is to follow in the footsteps of Aharon and avoid dispute.” “I’ll think about it,” said Mr. Black.


  A week later, Mr. Black handed the gabbai a sealed envelope. Inside was a check for $10,000 and a note: “In true merit for my father, I am enclosing my pledge and also ask forgiveness for having gotten angry at you.”


 


   Rabbi Meir Orlian is a halachah writer for Machon L’Choshen Mishpat. The Machon, which is headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, is committed to providing awareness, education and services in all areas of monetary issues that arise in our daily lives. For general questions, comments, or additional information, please call (877) MISHPAT (647-4728) or email info@machonmishpat.com. For questions regarding a halachic monetary issue, please call (877) 845-8455 or email  halachahotline@machonmishpat.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/yizkor-remember-your-pledge/2009/04/22/

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