Monday, December 8, 2014

On Vayeishev

We had special Siyata Dishmaya for this week's parsha, and we've posted several good Divrei Torah on Vayeishev.  As always, a great deal is owed to readers' contributions and comments.

New this year- Yehuda's Wedding Ring

A Parsha of Turnabouts

What Really Matters in a Shidduch
Staying focused. 2010

Real Investments: Overcoming Jealousy, Desire, and Arrogance
Why Yaakov bought land in Shechem and why Yosef was buried there.  2010

Jewish wives are not and never were chattel. 
How the Torah retained certain pre-Torah forms but entirely redefined their substance.  2008

A little boy- a Na'ar- at sixty years old. 
Being patronized is not insulting when it your patron is patronizing you.  2008

The danger of a dream fulfilled.
Thank G-d you don't always get what you want.  2007

All the love Yosef Got from Wearing the Kesones Pasim.
A thought about the strange prayer we say during Birchas Kohanim.  2007

No good deed goes unpunished.
Why Yosef's kindness to the sons of Bilha and Zilpa didn't win him any friends. 2007

Is it appropriate to inscribe your name on the things you donate to a Shul?
It seems self-serving, but it has ancient roots.  2006


  1. I know this is not relevant to any of the divrei torah above, but I wanted to ask you and your readers the following choshen mishpot question (given that this is one of the few blogs where you have an author and readers who are really learned):

    1. Y buys a house from Z;

    2. Z says "I am going to take some of the contents of the house but you can keep everything else";

    3. Z takes some furniture and leaves everything else (which included worthless things, such as old clothes, pots and pans etc as well as things that were worth something (like antique furniture)". Z would not have known exactly what she left as she had received a very good price for the house and did not want to spend the time going through everything in the house and cleaning all the mess. Z inherited the house from her Aunt and Uncle and had never lived there on a long term basis;

    4. 6 months after the sale, Y finds a small coin collection that was hidden in a drawer. Z assumedly wouldn't have know that the coin collection exists;

    5. Who owns that coin collection? The seller (who said she leaves everything in house to buyer) or the buyer?

    Thanks again.

    1. It is not urgent, so I want to give this some thought, as will my our readers. By the way, my mechutan's father, Ruby Schron, asked a similar question to Reb Moshe when he was starting out and did his first house rehab. The sellers, Italians, didn't know their father had left a box of cash and jewelry in a wall, and, like every sale, the sale legally included everything encompassed within the four walls of the house. Reb Moshe told Ruby that it would be a kiddush hashem to give it back, that he wouldn't lose by giving it back, and he would be matzliach in his business. Ruby is, baruch hashem, one of the most successful real estate investors in the US. But your case is not exactly the same. Check back.

  2. Thank you. The story does sound very similar except that our seller did leave a lot of stuff in the house for us and is Jewish. We found some other things in that hidden drawer as well (like some loan documents etc) but those I will give back because the seller may not know about those loans at all and will be the only one that can probably enforce or benefit from them anyway.

  3. I've spoken to the Choshen Mishpat experts I know, and this is the consensus: The Medrash involving Shimon ben Shetach's lifnim mishuras hadin is not relevant, because the seller knew that the things he was leaving might be valuable. However, if the collection has personal and emotional value to the family, or if its value would change the sale price of the house, then there would be a lifnim mishuras hadin question. But even then it would only be lifnim mishuras hadin.
    I had a case recently where a home owner put his house on the market after flood damage. The seller had secreted away diamonds over the years, and knew that he may have forgotten where some were. He decided it just wasn't worth going over the house with a fine toothed comb, so he sold it as is- and there was absolutely no expectation that the buyer would give back and stones found. It's pretty close to this case. The seller knew there might be something hidden. He was not interested in going on a wild goose chase. That was a conscious and binding decision.

    I didn't bring the question to a formal beis din, but that is what the mumchim all held.

  4. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your help and the response. Keep up your fantastic blog. I think you are an inspiration how someone can be very learned and also work.

  5. Hi Rav Eisenberg

    A friend of mine (who is not a choshen mishpat expert but just learns on kollel) said he thought the case might be analogous to the Mishna in bava basra (4th perek) and that as such the money might belong to the seller. He said to me as follows:

    "I would assume that the seller meant to leave behind only the remaining movables but not cash (unless it's a paltry sum which most people wouldn't care for) as it is unusual for people to leave behind cash which is legal tender."

    He thought it was similar to a man who sells a courtyard which includes the courtyard houses, and when he says to the purchaser "I sell it and all its contents", all is included in the sale, also movables, except wheat and barley which is food for one's sustenance, and one normally takes it along with him. And therefore by analogy, the money, which is something that someone normally takes along with him, would fall into the same category as divrei maachal.

    (Mishnah Bava Batra 67a, Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 215,1 and Sema 5).

    Do you think that case in the mishna is analogous to my case?