Shabbat Parashat Behaalotcha| 5767
Expenses Paid Because of the Promise of a Loan - Based on Halacha Psuka - vol. 8 - A Condensation of a Psak from Shurat Hadin V - pp. 394 - 401
Case: A bride was told by a gemach (free loan association) that they would lend her a wedding dress. In order to facilitate the matter, the bride arranged a “document of assurance” and prepared a check to leave for the possibility that the dress would get damaged. A week before the wedding, the gemach informed her, without giving an explanation, that they would not lend her the dress. The bride is now demanding compensation for the costs of arranging the document and the check. [Editor’s note – One would imagine that the bride made the claim out of “righteous indignation” over the perceived affront, not to compensate for a significant loss. From a halachic basis, the motivation behind a given claim does not normally impact on the willingness of beit din to hear the case or on its outcome.]
Ruling: The Rambam (Zechiya U’matana 6:24) rules that if a fiancé prepares an engagement party in the manner that is locally customary and the fiancée subsequently breaks off the engagement, she has to pay the cost of the party. This is because he spent money based on a promise that she did not live up to. The Rambam adds only that the fiancé must bring witnesses to attest to how much money he outlaid. The Ra’avad (ad loc.) argues, claiming that the woman caused the expense in an indirect manner, known as gerama, which does not obligate one to pay.
The S’ma (39:46) rules that if Reuven tells Shimon that he is willing to lend him money, which makes it necessary for Shimon to hire a scribe to write a document and then Reuven backs out, Reuven has to pay the expense of the scribe. This, he says, is based on the laws of garmi (more direct causation of damages than gerama) for which one has to pay. The Shut Beirech Moshe (siman 5) raises the possibility that the S’ma follows the aforementioned Rambam but that the Ra’avad should ostensibly disagree. Yet he concludes that, in the S’ma’s case, the Ra’avad could agree to make him pay. The S’ma is talking about a case where Reuven told Shimon explicitly to have the document written. This makes the damage direct enough to require payment. However, the Rambam and Ra’avad argued about a case where the fiancée did not say explicitly that the fiancé should make a party. She agreed to marry him, which put him in a situation where local practice prompted him to make a party. Although she can be generally blamed for his loss of money, the directness of her responsibility is such that the Rambam and Ra’avad disagreed whether she can be made to pay.
In the case at hand, the bride was not told explicitly that she should prepare the document and the check. She understood that at some point she would need it and thus outlaid the money. Therefore, the bride cannot demand compensation from the gemach.
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