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Shabbat Parashat Vayakhel| 5765

Pninat Mishpat



The Binding Nature of Coalition Agreements - Condensed from Piskei Din Rabbaniim - vol. VI, pp. 166-173
 

The Binding Nature of Coalition Agreements - Condensed from Piskei Din Rabbaniim -  vol. VI, pp. 166-173

 

Case: Two religious parties ran on a joint list for municipal elections. The first two spots on the list were from party A and the third spot from party B. However, an agreement was made that if the joint party would receive only two seats, that one of A’s representatives would resign. Indeed, the #1 person on the joint list (=X) signed a letter stating that he would resign immediately if it was “his turn” to do so based on coalition agreements. The joint list ended up getting two seats, but X refused to resign his seat, because he said that it was not his turn to do so since the #2 (=Y) should resign. Y had never signed that he was willing to resign. In addition to several politically related claims, party A claimed that the agreement was invalid because no halachically binding kinyan was made and the nature of the agreement also did not lend itself to such a kinyan. [Ed. note- according to Hemdat Yamim’s policies, we left out the name of the parties and the municipality and request that our readers not try to guess who is who. (You would probably guess wrong anyway.)]

 

Ruling: We do not need to get into the specific claims and counter claims about the propriety of the different parties’ behavior leading up to the elections in order to rule. The main halachic issue here is whether the agreement at hand, which lacked several elements of a halachic kinyan, is binding.

  Firstly, no ma’ase kinyan (act of formalizing an agreement) was done. The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 231:27-28) rules that the members of a city or even a society of craftsman can make agreements that are binding on the whole group even if those agreements do not conform to the rules of kinyanim. No mention is made of a need to perform a ma’ase kinyan, just of an agreement. This approach, that agreements made by the public are binding by virtue of their public nature, has precedent in several primary sources, including the Teshuvot Harosh and the Mordechai.

  The question is whether this rule applies only in cases where a kinyan, if done, could work. In our case, one can argue that the agreement is about a future situation and that there is an element of asmachta (an agreement which at least one side does not believe will come to fruition). However, one can bring several sources [ed. note- deleted because of constraints of space] to show that public agreements can overcome all of these halachic shortcomings. The basic rationale is that things done by the public or their valid representative(s) have more power and that society can function properly only when such agreements are kept.

Thus, the coalition agreement at hand is binding. As X is the one who indicated his agreement to resign to fulfill A’s agreement, he is responsible to do as he said.

 
Ruling: We do not need to get into the specific claims and counter claims about the propriety of the different parties’ behavior leading up to the elections in order to rule. The main halachic issue here is whether the agreement at hand, which lacked several elements of a halachic kinyan, is binding.
 Firstly, no ma’ase kinyan (act of formalizing an agreement) was done. The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 231:27-28) rules that the members of a city or even a society of craftsman can make agreements that are binding on the whole group even if those agreements do not conform to the rules of kinyanim. No mention is made of a need to perform a ma’ase kinyan, just of an agreement. This approach, that agreements made by the public are binding by virtue of their public nature, has precedent in several primary sources, including the Teshuvot Harosh and the Mordechai.
 The question is whether this rule applies only in cases where a kinyan, if done, could work. In our case, one can argue that the agreement is about a future situation and that there is an element of asmachta (an agreement which at least one side does not believe will come to fruition). However, one can bring several sources [ed. note- deleted because of constraints of space] to show that public agreements can overcome all of these halachic shortcomings. The basic rationale is that things done by the public or their valid representative(s) have more power and that society can function properly only when such agreements are kept.
Thus, the coalition agreement at hand is binding. As X is the one who indicated his agreement to resign to fulfill A’s agreement, he is responsible to do as he said.
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Dedication

This edition of
Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.,
Yitzchak Eliezer Ben Avraham Mordechai Jacobson o.b.m.

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