Shabbat Parashat Behar| 5765
Behar | | 1/2/2004
Recently there has been public discussion about the influence of real-estate tycoons on the government. Their great resources can afford them the possibility of advancing personal agendas by problematic means. In our first parasha, the Torah proclaims : “The Land shall not be sold for eternity, for the Land is Mine, and you are sojourners and inhabitants with Me. In all the Land of your inheritance, you shall give redemption for the Land” (Vayikra 25:23-24).
Case: [Instead of summarizing a whole case, which, in this case, was a very complex one, we want to focus on one issue which is discussed within the context of the din Torah.] Usually, sides agree in the arbitration agreement that beit din’s rulingcan be either according to the strict law or according to the rules of compromise. In this case, while the defendants agreed to adjudicate in beit din, they stipulated that beit din would be authorized to rule only according to the strict law. The plaintiff signed the arbitration agreement without stipulation. It appeared that the defendants would have to accept a cherem according to the strict law in order to exempt themselves from payment. (Cherem is a weaker alternative to an oath, by which the defendant agrees that a curse should befall him if he is lying about the question at hand.) As a rule, beit din no longer administers oaths or charamim,replacingthem with payment of a minority portion of the claim. In this case, the defendants preferred the partial payment, but given that they stated that the strict law would be used, do they have that prerogative?
“I will extol You, Hashem, for You have drawn me up, and You did not bring joy to my enemies over me” (Tehillim 30:2). What was our situation before our salvation came? We were in the depths of the pit and on the lowest level. The noose was tightening and the hopes that “friendly nations” would come to our aid were evaporating like a false fantasy. Every day brought its “tidings of Iyov.” One day it was the removal of the small UN force that separated us from our enemies. Another day it was the announcement of pacts between nations of the region with the promise that the day would soon come when the name of Israel would no longer be heard.
Question: Our daughter was accepted to a seminary, and we paid $1,500 as a non-refundable registration fee to hold a spot. She decided to attend a different institution. When we informed the first seminary, they refused to return the money. Given that another girl has already replaced our daughter, do they have the right to retain the money?
This edition of
A weekly divrei Torah leaflet: A Glimpse at the Parasha, Ask the Rabbi, From the writings of Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, zt”l, Pninat Mishpat (Jewish Monetary Law).