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Posts Tagged ‘Shulchan Aruch’

Preempting The Death Penalty

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

In this week’s parshah the Torah writes about a prohibition on killing a murderer prior to his trial. As the pasuk says: “…v’lo yamus harotzeach ad amdo lifnei haeidah lamishpat – … so that the murderer will not die until he stands before the assembly for judgment” (Bamidbar 35:12). The same rule applies to anyone who commits an aveirah that is punishable by death; no one is permitted to kill him prior to his trial in beis din, including the witnesses that warned him and witnessed the aveirah. The Sefer Hachinuch (mitzvah 409) writes that if one kills a transgressor prior to his trial, he is regarded as a murderer.

Anyone who performs any aveirah l’hachis (a transgression to spite Hashem, not because of temptation) is rendered a mummar l’kol haTorah. The Rosh (Moed Katan 3:59) says that one who is warned by two witnesses that the action he is about to perform is prohibited and punishable by death and responds that he will commit the aveirah despite the warning, attains the status of a mummar l’hachis. The reason is this: one performing the aveirah because of temptation would not do so after being warned that his life is on the line. Rather, we can assume that he is acting to spite Hashem.

Reb Chaim Ozer Grodzensky (Achiezer 3:53) writes that he discussed the following question with his wife’s grandfather, Reb Yisroel Salanter, the gaon ohr yisrael: the Gemara (Avodah Zarah 26b) says that one may kill a mummar l’hachis. (This is brought down in several places by the Rambam, including Rotzeach 4:10, and in the Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 425:5.) This is known as “moridin v’eino malin – throw him into a pit and do not save him.” The view of both the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch is that if possible one should publicly kill the mummar with a sword. The Rosh (Teshuvos 32:4) says that one should only kill via a gramma (indirectly), i.e., throw him into a pit and remove the ladder.

Question: How can the Torah say that we cannot kill a murderer or any transgressor until after his trial in beis din, despite the fact that he was warned in front of witnesses? After all, according to the Rosh the transgressor has the status of a mummar l’hachis (since he is not acting out of temptation), thereby permitting anyone to kill him as per the halacha of moridin v’eino malin.

Reb Chaim Ozer suggested two answers, but believed that the question demands more analysis. His first suggestion is that the pasuk is teaching us that although one is permitted to kill the individual who sinned by means of moridin, the Torah nevertheless prohibited killing him in this case until after his trial in beis din. However, Reb Chaim Ozer rejects this answer for several reasons. One reason: Why does the Chinuch say that one who kills the sinner is regarded as a murderer? Since he could kill him from the halacha of moridin, he should not be considered a murderer. The Chazon Ish (Yoreh De’ah 2:17) maintains that the halacha of moridin only applies when the sinner cannot be tried in beis din due to technical problems, i.e., no witnesses. Therefore, in a case to be brought in beis din one may not apply the halacha of moridin.

The second solution is that the pasuk is referring to a scenario in which we know that the individual did teshuvah. Therefore he can no longer be killed under the halacha of moridin. However, teshuvah does not remove the death penalty from beis din. Hence, the Torah says that we should wait until he is found guilty at trial before killing him.

I would like to suggest that the question does not start. I was scared to say that I learned the Rosh differently than Reb Chaim Ozer and Reb Yisroel Salanter. But, Baruch Hashem, I found afterwards that the Chazon Ish (Yoreh De’ah 2:12) learns the Rosh as I did. I believe that the Rosh is being taken out of context. The Rosh is discussing the Mishnah that says that there is no aveilus for people who are killed by beis din. The Rosh explains that this is because since they were warned that their life was on the line but nevertheless sinned, they are obviously not acting out of temptation; thus, they are comparable to a mummar l’hachis. I think that the Rosh never meant to say that anyone who transgresses after being warned is a mummar l’hachis regarding the halacha of moridin; rather the Rosh is saying that regarding aveilus we consider him a mummar, comparable to a mummar l’hachis – whereby aveilus does not apply.

Parshas Pinchas

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 28 5772
New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
July 13, 2012 – 23 Tammuz 5772
8:07 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sabbath Ends: 9:24 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Pinchas
Weekly Haftara: Divrei Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah 1:1-2:3)
Daf Yomi: Nidah 53
Mishna Yomit: Kesuvos 2:7-8
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 86:1 – 87:2
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Ma’aser chap. 7-9
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:30 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:19 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 1

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevarchim. Rosh Chodesh Av is one day, this coming Friday.

The molad is Thursday morning, 29 minutes, 6 chalakim (a chelek is 1/18 of a minute) past 12:00 a.m. (in Jerusalem).

Rosh Chodesh Av, Thursday Evening. At Maariv we add Ya’aleh VeYavo. However, if one forgot to include Ya’aleh VeYavo (at Maariv only) one does not repeat (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1, based on Berachos 30b, which explains that this is due to the fact that we do not sanctify the month at night). Following the Shemoneh Esreh, the Chazzan recites Kaddish Tiskabbel followed by Aleinu, and Mourner’s Kaddish.

Friday morning: Shacharis with inclusion of Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh, half-Hallel, Kaddish Tiskabbel. We take out one Sefer Torah from the ark. We read in Parashas Pinchas (Bamidbar 28:1-15), we call four Aliyos (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, Yisrael), the Ba’al Keriah recites half-Kaddish. We return the Torah to the Aron, Ashrei, U’va LeTziyyon – we delete La’menatze’ach, the Chazzan recites half-Kaddish; all then remove their tefillin.

Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh, followed by Chazzan’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Shir Shel Yom, Borchi Nafshi and their respective Kaddish recitations (for mourners). Nusach Sefarad say Shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi after half-Hallel. Before Aleinu they add Ein Ke’Elokeinu with Kaddish DeRabbanan.

Mincha: In the Shemoneh Esreh we say Ya’aleh VeYavo, followed by Chazzan’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu and Mourner’s Kaddish.

Birkas Hamazon: In the Grace after Meals we add Ya’aleh VeYavo as well as mention of Rosh Chodesh in the Beracha Acharona (Me’ein Shalosh) at all times.

Kiddush Levana: we wait until Motza’ei Tisha BeAv.

As we have now entered the Nine-Day period of mourning for the destruction of our Beth Hamikdash, we refrain from numerous activities, such as bathing with hot or cold water. We are proscribed from cutting our hair or nails. We do not launder clothing until after Tisha BeAv, nor do we eat meat or drink wine, with the exception of the Sabbath or a Seudas Mitzva such as a Bris or Siyum Masechta (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 549-569 for a complete review of the laws for this period).

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.

Parshas Balak

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 27 5772
New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
July 6, 2012 – 16 Tammuz 5772
8:10 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sabbath Ends: 9:24 p.m.
NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Balak
Weekly Haftara: VeHaya She’eris Yaakov (Micah 5:6-6:8)
Daf Yomi: Nidah 46
Mishna Yomit: Kesuvos 1:3-4
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 79:2-4
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Terumos chap. 1-3
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:18 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:10 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 6

Tomorrow Sunday, the 18th of Tammuz, is the fast of Shiv’a Asar BeTammuz (nidche –delayed due to Shabbos). The fast commences in the morning at 4:21 a.m. N.Y.C. E.D.T., and concludes at 9:23 p.m., N.Y.C. E.D.T.

This fast marks the beginning of the mourning period for the destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem and our dispersion in the exile. There are numerous minhagim regarding this period of mourning that are found in the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 551 – Hilchos Tisha BeAv – see Ba’er Heitev ad loc. All these rules apply until the morning following Tisha BeAv (the 10th of Av after Noon – Chatzos HaYom).

Shacharis: usual tefilla with the addition of the beracha of Anenu between the berachos of Go’el Yisrael and Rofeh Cholei Amo Yisrael in the Chazzan’s repetition. Following the repetition all say the Selichos and Avinu Malkenu as found in the Siddurim. We remove a Sefer Torah from the ark and call three Aliyos and read in Parashas Ki Tissa (Shemos 32:11-14, 34:1-10) from “Vaychal.” We then conclude Shacharis as usual.

Mincha: we begin with Ashrei, followed by half-Kaddish as usual; we then remove a Torah scroll and call three Aliyos and [again, as in the morning] read in Parashas Ki Tissa (Shemos 32:11-14, 34:1-10) from “Vaychal.” The last aliya serves as Maftir, and he reads from Yeshayahu (55:6-56:8), Dirshu Hashem be’himatz’o. Upon returning the Torah to the ark, the Chazzan says half-Kaddish – all say Anenu within the beracha of Shema Kolenu, as found in the Siddur. In the silent Shemoneh Esreh we also substitute Sim Shalom for Shalom Rav in the beracha of Shalom (according to Nusach Ashkenaz – whereas most of those who follow Nusach Sefarad always say Sim Shalom at Mincha.) In the Chazzan’s repetition(as during Shacharis), Anenu is a separate beracha between Go’el and Rofeh. Birkas Kohanim is recited as well, and the Chazzan concludes with Sim Shalom. Following the Shemoneh Esreh all say Avinu MalkenuTachanun, and then the Chazzan recites Kaddish Tiskabbel, followed by Aleinu and the Mourner’s Kaddish.

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.

My Machberes

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Emergency Call From Woodbourne

The historic B’nai Israel of Synagogue in Woodbourne, New York, under the leadership of Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis, beloved Nikolsburger Rebbe, has issued an emergency call for help in finalizing its preparations to serve the Catskills region and beyond this summer.

The Department of Buildings has determined the shul’s roof, built in 1922, is no longer safe. A simple calculation of the number of minyanim daily, including Shabbos and Sunday, and the average number of mispallelim at each minyan, tells us the shul had upward of 60,000 visits last summer. With so many people using the shul, the safety of its structure is an absolute necessity.

B'nai Israel Synagogue in Woodbourne

On January 15, 1999, the B’nai Israel Synagogue, with its signature outdoor menorah, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. With its present expanded function, the shul has now also achieved a place in Jewish history as the first shul to have non-stop minyanim in the Catskills. With the shul officially recognized as a historic building, expert workmanship is required to restore the its roof to meet the necessary safety regulations.

Work on the roof work is underway. However, its cost is daunting. Though much emotional and spiritual support has been and continues to be carried by the shul and the Nikolsburger Rebbe, outside financial support is critically needed. The cost of the roof and related expenses totals more than $100,000. With summer just about here, completing the work is now an emergency.

Even the regular day-to-day financial burden of maintaining the warm setting is considerable. Those wishing to use their tzedakah dollars most effectively should consider helping to underwrite this particularly noble effort. Assisting the shul at this time is worth exertion and self-sacrifice. Assuming a share in the tefillahs and Torah-learning taking place at the Woodbourne Shul will surely be noted and rewarded by the Kadosh Baruch Hu.

* * * * *

During the summer months Woodbourne, officially classified as a hamlet of the town of Fallsburg, sees a dramatic population increase with the influx of observant Jews from all over the greater New York City metropolitan area. Businesses there thrive from the July 4th weekend through Labor Day.

This is the third summer that B’nai Israel Synagogue, on Route 52 (Main Street), will serve the entire Catskills with its 24/7 full-service open-door operations. It exerts a powerful magnetic force throughout the Catskills, with a minyan every fifteen minutes (or even more frequently) and often multiple minyanim in its main sanctuary, beis medrash, and vestibule, drawing mispallelim from the length and breadth of the vacation region and beyond. The Woodbourne Shul now ranks with such famous minyan venues as Shomrei Shabbos in Boro Park, Veretzkier in Flatbush, and Lederman in Bnei Brak.

Nikolsburger Rebbe

Prior to the summer of 2010, the Nikolsburger Rebbe formally met with the B’nai Israel administration, and with their overwhelming support assumed leadership of the Woodbourne Shul. The board of B’nai Israel must be applauded for their many years of self-sacrifice in preserving the facility. Though the shul had not been fully utilized for years, the board’s resilience in its maintenance must be recognized as an important part of its present spectacular success.

During the regular school year Rabbi Jungreis tirelessly serves as rebbe at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, where he has infused thousands of children through the years with passionate Yiddishkeit. In addition, he leads Beis Medrash Khal Chassidei Nikolsburg-Kollel Boro Park at 4912 Sixteenth Avenue in Brooklyn’s Boro Park neighborhood. There, Rabbi Jungreis exercises a captivating pull on chassidishe youth at risk. This special effort continues in Woodbourne during the summer.

Chassidim of Rabbi Jungreis have again freshened and upgraded the Woodbourne Shul in preparation for the summer season. As in years past, they have rented a home across the street to serve as the Nikolsburger Rebbe’s summer residence.

With the walk-in lower level of the shul having been lovingly refurbished and turned into a large beis medrash with walls of sefarim and Judaica, the shul now comfortably accommodates more than one minyan at a time.

Why Women Can Recite Birchas HaTorah

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

The Rambam begins hilchos talmud Torah with the following halacha: Women and slaves are exempt from talmud Torah. A man is obligated to teach his son Torah, as it says, “velimadetem osam es beneichem ledaber bam.” However, a woman is not obligated to teach her son Torah because whoever is obligated to learn is obligated to teach – and since a woman is not obligated to learn, she is not obligated to teach.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 47:14) says that women should recite birchas haTorah. There is a machlokes Rishonim whether women can recite a berachah on a mitzvah from which they are exempt from performing. According to the Rishonim who opine that they can recite a berachah, we understand that they can recite the berachah on Torah as well. But the Mechaber (of the Shulchan Aruch) rules in favor of those Rishonim who do not permit women to recite a berachah on a mitzvah from which they are exempt. How then can he rule that they should recite a berachah on the mitzvah of learning Torah, since they are exempt from it?

The Magen Avraham quotes the Beis Yosef, in the name of the Agur, and explains that women are obligated to learn the halachos that pertain to them and are obligated to say korbanos, just as they are obligated to daven. Thus they may recite the berachah on Torah. The Magen Avraham also explains that it is for this reason that women can mention in the second berachah of bentching, “v’al Torasecha she’limaditanu,” since they are obligated to learn the halachos that pertain to them.

The Vilna Gaon does not agree with the Magen Avraham’s suggested answer, since the Gemara derives from the pasuk, “velimadetem osam es beneichem” – v’lo benoseichem – that women are exempt from the mitzvah entirely. This even regards learning about the mitzvos that they are obligated to perform.

Reb Shach, in his sefer on the Rambam, explains that there are two obligations to learn Torah. One is the general mitzvah to learn the entire Torah. This mitzvah is derived from the pasukim of “veshinantam” or “velimadetam.” It is from this obligation that women are exempt. However, there is another obligation to learn Torah that is a component of every mitzvah individually, demanding that one learn how to perform that particular mitzvah. Included in the commandment to perform each mitzvah is an obligation to learn how to properly perform that mitzvah. The obligation to learn how to perform the mitzvos is also a mitzvah of learning Torah.

Women are only exempt from the general mitzvah of learning the entire Torah. But they are obligated to learn how to perform the mitzvos for which they are obligated to perform, and that too is a mitzvah of talmud Torah. Hence they can recite the berachah on the mitzvah of talmud Torah, even according to the opinion that women may not recite a berachah on a mitzvah for which they are exempt.

Reb Shach brings a proof from a Tosafos in Avodah Zarah 3a that this obligation (to learn how to perform the mitzvos that you are obligated in) is a mitzvah of talmud Torah. The Gemara there says that a non-Jew who learns Torah is comparable to a kohen gadol, and he is rewarded just as one who is not obligated to perform the mitzvah (which is a lesser reward than one who performs a mitzvah that he was obligated to carry out). Tosafos explains that the Gemara is referring to a non-Jew who learns Torah that pertains to the seven obligatory mitzvos that non-Jews are required to perform. (A non-Jew is not allowed to learn any of the other parts of the Torah.) If learning the halachos of how to properly perform a mitzvah is not considered a mitzvah of talmud Torah, why does the Gemara make reference to a non-Jew who learns Torah? The Gemara should have said this: a non-Jew who is involved in preparing for a mitzvah that he is obligated to do (i.e. he kills an animal so that it is not eiver min ha’chai.) One can infer from this that there is an obligation to learn the halachos of each mitzvah, and that that is a mitzvah of talmud Torah.

Q & A: Staying Awake Shavuot Night

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Question: Many people stay awake Shavuot night and learn Torah. Is this proper considering that one’s davening the next morning may lack kavannah as a result? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get a good night’s sleep and then learn with more fervor the next day?

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Answer: Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, rosh Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim (She’eilat Shlomo 1:26-27, 222 ), discusses this matter at length. The Magen Avraham (Orach Chayim 494), citing the Zohar, notes that the custom of learning all night on Shavuot is an attempt to rectify our misdeed at Mt. Sinai. When Hashem “arrived” to give us the Torah, we were sleeping and had to be woken up. We therefore stay awake all night nowadays, spiritually rectifying this sin and showing our zeal for Torah.

Rabbi Aviner cautions, though, that one should take into account that staying awake all night may hurt one’s kavannah during Shacharit. If it will, it is far better not to stay awake. Davening with proper concentration is more important than staying up all night since tefillah is a time-related obligation. Rabbi Aviner cites the Magen Avraham (Orach Chayim 619:11) who makes this same point regarding the custom of staying up all night on Yom Kippur. The Magen Avraham writes that one shouldn’t stay up if it will harm one’s kavannah the next day.

Rabbi Yitzchak Ze’ev Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav (Uvdot Ve’Hanhagot Le’Beit Brisk vol. 2, p. 79), expressed his surprise that people are so particular to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot – which is only a custom – but are not careful to discuss the Exodus from Egypt on Pesach night until they are overcome by sleep – which is an actual law. Indeed, in the city of Brisk, people were not meticulous to stay up all night on Shavuot. They didn’t see the difference between that night and any other night. (One can only imagine the Torah learning of an “ordinary” night in Brisk!) The Brisker Rav also reasoned that learning on Shavuot night is no more important than learning on Shavuot day.

The sefer Ha-Shakdan (vol. 2, p. 240) reports that Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was asked by his grandson why he doesn’t stay awake all night on Shavuot and goes to sleep at his usual time of 2 a.m. Rabbi Elyashiv explained that he calculated that if he changed his routine by foregoing his usual few hours of sleep on Shavuot night, not only would he not gain more learning time, but he would actually lose 15 minutes. He therefore preferred to go to sleep at his usual time.

Each person should carefully consider if it is worthwhile for him to stay up all night since there is the concern that “yatza secharo b’hefseido – the gain is offset by the loss” (Avot 5:11).

Those people who will stay up all night, and whose kavannah will not be harmed, should be aware of some pertinent halachot for Shavuot morning.

Tzitzit: A person who wears tzitzit all night should not recite a new blessing on it in the morning. He should try to hear the blessing from someone who is obligated to recite it or he should have his tzitzit in mind when he recites the blessing over his talit (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 8:16 with Mishnah Berurah sk42).

Netilat Yadayim: A person should wash netilat yadayim without a blessing or hear it from someone who is obligated to recite it (Shulchan Aruch Harav 4:13). Another option, which is preferable, is that one use the restroom and thus become obligated to wash netilat yadayim according to all opinions (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 4:13 with Mishnah Berurah sk27, 29, 30).

Elokai Neshamah and Ha-Ma’avir Sheinah: The former should be recited without its concluding blessing (“hamachazir neshamot…”) and the latter should be recited sans mention of Hashem’s Name. Better yet, if at all possible, these paragraphs should be heard from someone who is obligated to recite them (one who has slept), since these blessings were specifically established as a praise to Hashem for the daily restoration of our souls and the removal of sleep and thus should only be said if one has slept (Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 47:30 and Biur Halachah). If one sleeps even half an hour, one is obligated to recite these blessings (Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 4:34-35 and Biur Halachah s.v “Dovid v’chulu…”).

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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