Editor’s note: Parties to a dispute are almost always supposed to seek compromise (peshara) rather than strict din. In fact, the Gemara (Bava Metzia 30b) states that Yerushalayim was destroyed because cases were decided on din (rather than lifnim meshuras hadin). We encourage readers, therefore, to read this column as a source of Torah knowledge, not a guide for ideal Torah behavior.
* * * * *
Mr. Sander had a side business of driving people. One day, Mr. Blum called. “I need a ride to the airport this evening,” he said. “Would you be able to take me?”
“I’m not available,” Mr. Sander replied, “but my son Chaim is home. Maybe he can take you.”
Mr. Sander spoke to his son, who was available. “Okay, I’ll tell him how much to pay,” he told his son.
“All right,” Chaim replied.
Mr. Sander called Mr. Blum. “Chaim can take you,” he said. “Give him $30; that’s enough for him.”
When they arrived at the airport, Mr. Blum thanked Chaim. “I appreciate your taking me,” he said and gave Chaim $30.
“That’s all?” asked Chaim. “A car service to the airport costs about $60. The cheapest a person can get is $40.”
“That’s what I arranged with your father,” replied Mr. Blum. “He always gives me a discount.”
“That’s fine if he drives,” said Chaim. “But if I drive, I have to agree to the discount. You can’t expect me to drive you and not even pay the minimum fare.”
“The discount is between you and your father,” argued Mr. Blum. “I arranged with your father $30, so that’s what I’m paying.”
“You need to get to your flight,” said Chaim. “I don’t want to delay you. When you return, though, I would like to take the issue up with Rabbi Dayan.”
When Mr. Blum returned, he went with Chaim to Rabbi Dayan. “The Rashba addresses a similar case,” Rabbi Dayan replied after he was supplied with all the facts. “A father arranged for his son to work as an apprentice for a set amount each year. After two months, the son decided not to continue, and the question arose whether he was bound by his father’s arrangement. In his answer, the Rashba also addressed the question of his salary.” [Responsa attributed to Ramban #105]
“What does the Rashba say?” asked Mr. Blum.
“He cites the Gemara [Bava Metzia 12] that a father is entitled to the findings of a child who is financially dependent on him as a household member,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “There is a dispute amongst the Rishonim whether the father is also legally entitled to his child’s earnings.” [Machaneh Ephraim, Hil. Zechiya U’matana #3]
“The Rashba concludes that even if the child is not financially dependent on his father, the arrangement is valid for past work,” continued Rabbi Dayan. “Since the child knew that his father made the arrangement and began working without protest, he willingly accepted his father’s arrangement. The Rema cites this ruling.” [Choshen Mishpat 333:8]
“What if someone else made the arrangement?” asked Chaim.
“The Shach [333:45] writes that the Rashba’s logic applies even if someone else made the arrangement,” said Rabbi Dayan. “He also writes that even if the son didn’t know the details of the arrangement of his father or another person, he willingly accepted it.”
“The Nesivos [333:17], however, maintains that the Rashba spoke only about a son,” continued Rabbi Dayan. “If another person, even an agent, arranges an unfair sum, the arrangement is void and the son is entitled to the going rate. A son, though, relies on, and willingly accepts, his father’s arrangement, so it is binding.”
“Therefore,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “Mr. Blum does not have to pay you more than $30.”