Photo Credit: Jewish Press

An outdoor, Jewish music concert was planned for the Sunday after Tisha B’Av. Group-rate tickets were offered through shuls in the community.

Mrs. Joseph bought tickets for herself and her husband.


A week before the event, though, Mrs. Joseph, who was waiting for a medical procedure, was notified that a slot had opened that Sunday afternoon.

“I’m glad there’s an available slot,” Mrs. Joseph said to her husband. “However, it’s a shame that we will have to miss the music event.”

“I’ll give the tickets to the shul,” replied Mr. Joseph. “This way, someone else can use them.”

Mr. Joseph took the tickets to shul the next morning, and gave them to the gabbai, Mr. Fried.

“We bought tickets, but my wife is now scheduled for surgery that afternoon, so we can’t attend,” Mr. Joseph said. “You can give the tickets to other people who want to attend.”

“Thank you,” said Mr. Fried. “That’s very kind of you. Refuah sheleima to your wife!”

As Tisha B’Av approached, the weather forecast predicted heavy rain over the weekend, including Sunday. There was no choice but to postpone the event to the following Sunday.

“We can attend the concert then,” Mrs. Joseph said to her husband. “See if Mr. Fried still has the tickets.”

Mr. Joseph approached Mr. Fried. “B’ezras Hashem, we will be able to attend the concert next week,” he said. “Do you still have the tickets?”

“One I already gave away; one I told someone I would give him,” Mr. Fried replied. “Under the circumstances, though, I think the tickets should be returned to you!”

“Do you really?” asked Mr. Joseph. “But one of them you already gave away.”

“That’s only because you didn’t think you could use them,” said Mr. Fried. “But now that you can, why should you lose out?”

“Do you really think it’s OK?” asked Mr. Joseph.

“I can’t say for sure,” replied Mr. Fried, “but we can ask Rabbi Dayan.”

The two called Rabbi Dayan and asked:

“Should the ticket(s) be returned to the Josephs?”

“A transaction made initially in error is void,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “However, this does not apply here, since when Mr. Joseph gave the tickets, the concert was still planned as scheduled.

“Nonetheless, the Gemara (Kiddushin 49b; Kesubos 97a) addresses the case of people who sold property for a specific reason, such as to go on aliyah or to buy a different property, but their plans fell through. The Gemara teaches that if the seller verbally expressed his intent and purpose at the time of the sale, he can later void it” (C.M. 207:3; Pischei Choshen, Kinyanim 20:29-30).

“Rema (ibid.) rules, though, that this applies to real estate sales, since generally people sell real estate only for a clear reason, but it does not apply to the sale of movable items, which people sometimes sell without a clear purpose.

“Moreover, if the seller did not verbally express the reason for the sale, even if it didn’t pan out, dvarim shebalev einam devarim – thoughts are not of legal consequence – unless they are blatantly obvious and self-understood to everyone” (C.M. 207:4).

“All this is regarding a sale. However, regarding a gift, Rema (ibid.) rules that an umdena – strong estimation of intent – is of legal consequence, even if not expressed verbally. This is true even regarding a gift of movable items” (Pischei Choshen, Kinyanim 15:52-53; 20:34).

“Thus, had the Josephs sold the tickets, they could not demand them back based on their expressed intent, since they are movable items,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “However, since they gave them as a gift, we follow the estimation of their intent, certainly when expressed verbally. They gave the tickets only because they thought that they couldn’t attend. Since the event was postponed, the tickets should be returned, even the one that was already given.”

Verdict: Regarding a gift, there is legal significance to the understood intent of the giver, even if not expressed verbally at the time of the gift, and certainly if expressed.


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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 [email protected]. 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 [email protected].