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Chaim had learned together with David for five years in yeshiva in Israel. Chaim was now getting married in the States and very much wanted to have his former chavrusa join him, so he bought him a ticket to the United States.

David thanked his friend, but when the day of the flight arrived, he was told that a number of people, including him, were being bumped to a later flight. David filed a request for compensation and received a voucher, which stated: “An Electronic Travel Certificate has been issued to David, valid toward the purchase of an electronic airline ticket, where eligible, on our airline, up to $1,000.”

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David shared the news with Chaim. “Now I can visit you a second time for free!” he said.

“Or, maybe I can fly for free to visit you!” replied Chaim.

“The ticket is in my name, though,” said David.

“But you might be able to make a reservation for someone else,” said Chaim. David checked, and, indeed, he was able to. But now he wasn’t sure who should get the free ticket – Chaim, who paid for it, or himself (considering all the trouble he went through waiting for hours at the airport and then taking a later flight that took off at an inconvenient time and cost him a night’s sleep).

The two decided to bring the issue before Rabbi Dayan. After pondering the matter, Rabbi Dayan replied, “The Gemara [Kesuvos 98b] addresses a similar, but somewhat different case. Someone purchased items on behalf of another, and received extra items from the seller as a bonus. The law is that the agent and the sender share the bonus.” [Choshen Mishpat 183:6]

“Why?” asked Chaim.

“Rashi explains that it is not clear whether the seller intended to give the extra items as a gift to the agent or to the person who sent him,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “The Rema writes, based on Rashi’s rationale, that if the seller specifically designated the items to the agent, they belong to him alone.

“The Rif offers a different rationale. He writes that the agent must share the extra items with the sender because the benefit came about through his money. Many Acharonim write that according to the Rif’s rationale, even if the seller explicitly designated the items to the agent, he must share it with the person who gave him the money.” [Sma 183:18; Taz 183:6]

“What about our case?” asked David.

“The travel certificate was made in David’s name,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “Thus, according to Rashi’s rationale, it is clearly his. Even according to the Rif it would seem that the travel certificate is David’s since it was not granted on account of the ticket purchase per se, but rather due to the inconvenience caused to the traveler. David was the one inconvenienced.” [Responsa Rashba (attributed to Ramban) #60; Ketzos HaChoshen 183:7; Erech Lechem, 183:6]

“Even so,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “you might consider sharing the ticket with Chaim out of hakaras hatov to him. Perhaps you might even have the opportunity to fly Chaim over for your wedding!”

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Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to subscribe@businesshalacha.com. For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail ask@businesshalacha.com.