Archive for the ‘Shomrim’ Category

A Confiscated Ipod – ImPOunDed

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

By: Rabbi Baruch Meir Levin

Q. I lent my new Ipod to a roommate of mine in yeshiva, clearly telling him to “make sure it doesn’t get taken away”. Unfortunately it did get taken away, by the Mashgiach. Does my friend have to reimburse me for the Ipod?


 Generally a sho’el – borrower is responsible to pay for all damages that incur to the item, even those that were beyond his ability to prevent. The Mechaber in Shulchan Aruch[1] however rules that if someone borrows a horse to ride on a certain road and subsequently, while on that road, bandits come and steal the horse from him, he is patur from reimbursing the owner. The reasoning behind this is that since the owner specifically gave it to him to ride on this road, we assume that this includes a relief from all damages that come as result of this use. This p’tur is known as maisa machmas melacha.

Here too according to the Mechaber, if the Ipod got taken away as a result of your friend using it in the Yeshiva, he would be patur since you specifically gave it to him for that use.

As for the fact that you told him to “make sure it doesn’t get taken away”, it would depend. If indeed he was not as careful with it as he should have been and did not “make sure that it doesn’t get taken away”, this p’tur would not apply, since he did not use it in the manner that you told him to. Accordingly he would have to reimburse you for the Ipod.

However, if he was careful with it, as much as reasonably possible within the Yeshiva, and still in all it got taken away, he would be patur, since after all he did try to “make sure it doesn’t get taken away”. Even though generally, the mere fact of using an Ipod in a yeshiva that doesn’t allow one would be considered negligent, in this case since you specifically allowed him to use it in Yeshiva it would not be considered negligent of him as long as he used it in the manner in which you expected of him[2].

However if it got taken away as part of a general search that the Mashgiach conducted in the Yeshiva, and in fact would have got taken away even if your friend would never have used it, this p’tur would not apply. As explained before, the p’tur of maisa machmas melacha is only when the loss is a result of its borrowed use[3]. He would therefore be responsible to pay just as a shoe’l is responsible for all damages to the item, even those that would have also happened had it been with the owner[4].

At times a Mashgiach may only confiscate an item for a certain period of time. For example, it may be his policy to return all confiscated items at the end of the z’man. If this were the case, we would not consider it as you have sustained a monetary loss, and thus your friend would not be required to pay you anything regardless of the circumstances[5].

It is important to mention that whenever a borrower gets something stolen from him in manner that he is exempt from paying for it, the halacha is that he is still obligated to try and retrieve it from the one who stole it[6]. Here too, even if your friend is patur, he would still be obligated to do whatever he can to have the Mashgiach return it to him, if there exists such an option within the framework of the Yeshiva.

This article should not be seen as condoning the use of items in a yeshiva which the Hanhala disallows; it is only dealing with the monetary halachic consequences after the fact.

[1] עיין בחו"מ (סי’ ש"מ ס"ג) שפסק המחבר כשיטת הרמ"ה דפטור, והרמ"א שם הביא שיטת הרא"ש דחייב. והש"ך שם (סק"ה) כתב דהעיקר כהרמ"א דחייב. ומ"מ נראה דיכול לומר קים לי כהמחבר דפטור.

[2] עיין בסי’ רצ"א (סט"ז) המפקיד אצל חבירו כספים בערב שבת סמוך לבין השמשות אינו חייב לטרוח ולקבור אותם עד מוצאי שבת.

[3] עיין בנה"מ (סי’ ש"מ סק"ה) שכ’ דגם המחבר מודה דכל היכא שאפשר שיבוא להאונס כזה אפילו לא היה בדרך דלא הוי מתה מחמת מלאכה.

[4] והנה היה מקום לומר דאף בכה"ג, כיון דהמשגיח יש לו רשות לקחתו מצד תנאי הישיבה לא חשיב היזק כלל, כמו שפסק הש"ך (סי’ שפ"ח סק"כ) לענין מוסר, דמי שחייב ממון להמלכות ובא אחד והלשין עליו אינו חייב לשלם לו, והטעם הוא משום שלא הפסידו כיון דחייב מטעם דינא דמלכותא דינא.

אולם בנד"ד לכאורה חלוק, דהא אין על המשאיל חיוב לתתו להמשגיח אלא שמשגיח יש לו רשות לקנסו ולקחתו אם מוציאה. ועיין שו"ת הר הכרמל (חו"מ סי’ ט’ הובא בספר פתחי חושן) שדן במי ששאל ספר שהיה אסור להחזיק ע"פ חוק המלכות ובא הממונה לבית השואל וראה הספר שם והחרימו. והעלה שם שחייב השואל לשלם ככל אונס.

[5] עיין בסי’ ש"ז (ס"ו) די"א דבמכה שסופה להתרפאות פטור דלא הוי אלא שבת. וכתב שם הש"ך דהוי ספיקא דדינא והמע"ה.

[6] סי’ רצ"ד ס"ו. והנה המחבר כתבו לגבי שומר אבל פשוט דה"ה לגבי שואל.

A Stained Relationship

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

By: Rabbi Baruch Meir Levin

I recently borrowed a gown from a gemach for a family wedding. At the wedding someone accidently bumped into me and spilled a glass of juice over the gown. Unfortunately the cleaners were unable to get out the stain and the gown is now ruined.

Q. The gemach now wants me to pay them $800 for the value of the gown. Am I hallachically required to do so?


One who borrows an item is termed a Sho’el, and is responsible to pay for any damages to the item, even those of onsim (unavoidable damages). On the other hand one who rents an item is termed a Socher, and only responsible for genaiva v’avaida (loosely translated – avoidable damages even not due to negligence).

Now many gemachs charge a fee (usually $75 – 150) to “borrow” their gowns and as such these would not be considered loans but rather rentals. Even if the charge is only to cover the operating costs of the gemach, and even if it is termed “a donation”, nevertheless as long as the ability to use their gowns is contingent upon making a payment to them, they would be considered rentals[1].


Lost Credit Voucher

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

by Rabbi Yehonoson Dovid Hool


An educational institute wanted to honour one of their supporters, and so they asked me to purchase a silver dish on their behalf for him, which they paid me for. Subsequently, they decided it wasn’t suitable and they asked me to return it to the store. I did so, and the store gave me in return a voucher for the amount of the dish. I took it hime, and after some time I realised that I must have misplaced it, because I can’t find it anywhere. Am I obliged to pay the institute the value of the voucher?


In general, unless you declared at the time that you took the voucher (or before then) that you accept no responsibility for looking after it, you would automatically become a Shomer Chinom, and would be responsible for negligence. Included in negligence is not knowing where you placed it.

Nonetheless, in this case you would not have to pay for the loss, because the voucher has the same status in this respect as documents that have no intrinsic worth other than the obligations stated within. Such documents are excluded from the Halachos of Shomrim, and as such you are not responsible for their loss. Although there are authorities that oblige payment even in such cases if the loss is caused through negligence, the consensus amongst the Poskim is to exonerate the Shomer of any financial obligations, especially if the plaintiff is not holding any money of the Shomer. As such, a Bais Din would not oblige you to pay for the loss even if it came about through your negligence.