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Congregation Simchas HaTefillah was having a community Purim seudah, with raffle tickets sold at the door.

“I’m going to arrive late at the seudah, towards the end,” Binyamin told Mordechai.” Could you please buy a raffle ticket for me?”


“Sure,” replied Mordechai. “I’m also planning to buy one.”

When Mordechai arrived, he told the gabbai that he wanted two raffle tickets: “One for me and one for Binyamin, who will arrive later.”

Mordechai paid for the two tickets. The gabbai tore two numbers off the roll – 108 and 109.

After the festive eating, drinking, singing and divrei Torah, the gabbai announced: “And now, we will hold the raffle draw! First prize is a silver goblet!”

He put his hand in the box containing the stubs and pulled one out.

He announced, “First prize winner is number … 109!”

Binyamin had just walked in. He hurried over to Mordechai and asked. “What number did you get for me?”

“I received numbers 108 and 109, but didn’t have in mind which one was for me and which one was for you,” replied Mordechai. “Had you come it two minutes earlier, I would have already given you one of the tickets.”

“Either way, that’s great!” replied Binyamin. “One of us won first prize!”

“That’s true,” replied Mordechai. “The question is who?”

“Rabbi Dayan is sitting there,” said Binyamin. “We can ask him.”

The two went over to Rabbi Dayan. “We have a question,” Mordechai said.

“I’m very, very sorry,” Rabbi Dayan apologized. “I’ve drunk several cups of wine and can’t rule now. Ask me tomorrow.”

The next day, they asked Rabbi Dayan:

“Who is entitled to the prize?’

“When you buy a raffle for another, even with your own money, you acquire it for him as his agent,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “All the more so if he asked you to lend him the money” (C.M. 183:4; Divrei Chaim C.M. 2:21).

“Even if you later claim that you intended to buy it for yourself, you are not believed if you did not indicate so before the transaction (ibid.)

“When you buy for both yourself and another, you should initially decide which is for yourself and which is for him. Even a mental decision suffices for this, since you intend to acquire this specific ticket for him as his agent (Pischei Choshen, Pikadon 12:21[63]).

“However, if you bought two tickets without specific intention, and one turned out to be the winner – if you still hold both tickets, you can retain the winning ticket for yourself. You do not have to share the prize with the other person, since – although you bought two tickets – there was no intent to be partners but rather that one should be for you and one for the sender. You are in possession of the winning ticket, so that hamotzi meichaveiro alav hare’ayah – the burden of proof is on him (ibid.)

“Even if after buying the two tickets, you intend that a specific one should be for the other person but did not yet give it to him, he might not acquire the ticket with your intent alone; you can still retain the winning ticket for yourself. It would be a middas chassidus (virtuous act), though, to honor your intent (Tur C.M 200:15; Pischei Choshen, Kinyanim 1:1).

“However, if you laid out the money, and when the other person paid, you agreed that a specific ticket should be his before handing it over, this likely constitutes at least kinyan kessef to invoke mi shepara (condemnation of one who retracts after payment) or possibly even bereirah (retroactive designation) to acquire it (Pischei Choshen, Pikadon, ibid.).

“Clearly, once you give a ticket to the other person,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “he acquires it along with any potential gain inherent in it.”

Verdict: Mordechai is entitled to the prize, since he didn’t designate which ticket was for Binyamin. Binyamin would be entitled to the prize if Mordechai intended at the time of purchase that this specific ticket is for him, or if he already handed it to him. Intent alone after purchase would be considered a middas chassidus.


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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].