Photo Credit:

Mordechai Benjamin wanted to buy a Megillas Esther. He went to the sefarim store near his house, which also sold tefillin and mezuzos. “Do you sell Megillos?” he asked.

“We do, but yesterday we sold the last one in stock,” said Yair, the salesman. “There are a number of sofrim who write for us, though. I’ll check whether any have a Megillah available.”


Yair called one sofer. “Do you have any Megillos available?” he asked.

“Yes, I have a high-quality one almost done,” replied the sofer. “Be”H, I expect to finish it on Ta’anis Esther.”

“Hold on,” said Yair. “I’ll ask the customer.”

“There is a sofer who writes beautifully,” said Yair. “He has a high-quality Megillah, which he expects to finish on Ta’anis Esther. It will cost $1,200.”

“That’s OK,” said Mr. Benjamin. “As long as it’s ready before Purim.”

“You can pay now,” said Yair. “I’ll tell the sofer to bring the Megillah directly to your house.”

Mr. Benjamin paid. “Here is your receipt,” said Yair.

When the sofer brought the Megillah to Mr. Benjamin, he saw that the writing was indeed beautiful. However, it was written in ksav AR”I, which differs slightly from the more common Ashkenazic ksav Beis Yosef in the way certain letters are written, such as ches and tzaddik.”

Mr. Benjamin called the store. “I am disappointed,” he said. “I expected ksav Beis Yosef and would like to return the Megillah.

“There are many Ashkenazim who use ksav AR”I,” replied Yair, “especially Chassidim, since it has a kabbalistic basis.”

“I’m not Chassidic, though,” said Mr. Benjamin. “When I bought tefillin for my son the sofer asked me, and we decided on ksav Beis Yosef.”

Mr. Benjamin called Rabbi Dayan and asked:

“Can I return the Megillah as an erroneous purchase?”

“Strictly speaking, this case is an example of the principle of ein holchin b’mamon achar harov,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “We do not follow the statistical majority in monetary issues.

“The Gemara (B.K. 46a; B.B. 92a) addresses the case of a person who bought an ox, which turned out to be aggressive and unusable as a domesticated animal for work. He therefore claims that this was an erroneous purchase – mekach taus.

“Shmuel the Amora rules that although most people buy oxen for work, not meat, we do not follow the majority likelihood in monetary issues. Rather, we follow the principle of hamotzi meichaveiro alav hare’ayah – the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. Since some people buy oxen to slaughter for meat, if the seller was already paid and holds the money, he can claim that the ox’s temperament is irrelevant. The customer has to prove that his initial intention was to buy the ox for work, or that he always buys for work” (C.M. 232:23).

“Similarly, if someone sold edible seeds but they did not grow, the customer cannot demand a refund for them as defective merchandise; perhaps the seeds were bought for eating, unless the customer clearly indicated that they were bought for planting” (C.M. 232:21).

“However, if the customer hasn’t paid yet, so that he holds the money, he can refuse to pay for the unusable ox or defective seeds” (see Nesivos 232:12; Aruch HaShulchan 232:36; Pischei Choshen, Ona’ah 12:15-18).

“Here, too, although most Ashkenazim use ksav Beis Yosef, since the store owner holds the money, he can claim – if he wants to – that perhaps you are among those who use ksav AR”I, unless you can prove that you use only ksav Beis Yosef. It would have been proper, though, to clarify the ksav before selling you the Megillah.

“Regardless, both forms of writing are acceptable,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “A person should try to be consistent regarding tefillin and mezuzos, but can use a megillah written differently, which has more lenient rules” (see O.C. 690:3; 691:2).

Verdict: Unless it was clear that the customer wanted a specific kind of writing, he cannot demand a refund as an erroneous purchase if the writing differs from what he expected, since ein holchin b’mamon achar harov.


Previous articleTrouble With Writing
Next articleGallant Won’t Pick Up Ben Gvir’s Calls on Administrative Detentions of Jews
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 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