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Thursday, March 30

היא זועקת הצילו!!!

מכתבה של נערה תמימה שזועקת "הצילו!!!"
חברים נכבדים,
הנכם מחזיקים סמארטפון כשר.
כמובן שרכשתם את המכשיר כדי להשתמש במכשיר זה לצרכי עבודה בלבד.
בימים אלה הגיע ממנהלת בביה"ס לבנות צילום מכתבה של נערה תמימה, נשמה טהורה, שרואה ומבינה בזוך לבבה, כי המכשיר שמחזיק אבא היא מכונת הרס לנשמות הטהורות הגדלים בתוך ביתו.
היא לא יכלה להתאפק, והעלתה את נהמת לבה על המכתב ומסרה למנהלת.
היא זועקת הצילו!!!
היא מסיימת את מכתבה וכותבת: כל יום שעובר חושף אותנו לעוד דברים.
היא בוכה על כך ששולחים לאבא שלה דברים מזעזעים.
היא מבינה בתמימותה את ההרס הגדול של הקבוצות המשפחתיות.
היא מתחננת במכתבה להתריע בפני כל ההורים שמחזיקים כלים מסוג זה להיות מודעים לפצצה המתקתקת שברשותם, אם לא ישכילו להשתמש בו באופן מושכל במחשבה תחילה, אך ורק לצרכים עסקיים ולא לבלויים הזויים.
אז אמרנו: במקום להסביר ולהרבות מלל, בסך הכל נפרסם את מכתבה של הנערה, עם כמה שינויי עריכה מתבקשים כדי להסתיר את זהותה, ולשולחה אליכם ככתבה וכלשונה.
נא להקדיש דקה של קריאה ודקה נוספת של התבוננות בצדקת הדברים, ותרוויחו שעות רבות ושנים ארוכות של נחת דקדושה.
באם הנכם מסכימים לתוכן המכתב הלז, אנא תשלחו אותה הלאה (בתוך ה"BCC" לחסוך ממכם לחשוף רשימת הקישורים שלכם).
אם ובאם טעיתי בכתובת, הנני מבקש מכם סליחה מראש ומאחל לכם פורים כשר ופסח שמח (כלשון הרבי מקוזמיר זצ"ל).
בידידות,
המעוררים

בס"ד
למנהלת!
כבר הרבה זמן אני מתלבטת אם לכתוב את המכתב הזה, אבל עכשיו החלטתי לכתוב אותו מפני שזה מאוד דחוף!
לאבא שלי יש לצורך העבודה שלו סמארטפון כשר, חבריו לעבודה וקרובי משפחה שיש להם גם את המכשיר הזה שולחים לו הסרטות מעניינות, חלקם של חדשות הקהלה וחלקם שטויות והבלים.
בהתחלה, אבא שלי לא הסכים לאף אחד לגעת במכשיר, כי אמר שזה מיועד לו לצורך עבודתו, אך לא אישרו לו את זה בשביל שילדים ישתמשו עם זה.
אך לאחרונה הוא נותן את זה למי שמבקש! אחי ואחיותי הקטנים מסתכלים שם די הרבה, ולדעתי זהו פשוט סכנה רוחנית!
לדעתי צריך לשלוח עוד היום מכתבים לכל אלה שיש להם את הפלאפונים האלה עם אישורי הוועדה, שאין לילדים לגעת או לראות שום דבר, אפילו חדשות הקהלה!!!
וכן שאסור שיהיה קבוצה של קרובי המשפחה, כי זה לא קשור לעבודה, וכן יש לי דודים – מקהלה אחרת – ששולחים לאבא שלי דברים מזעזעים.
אני מבקשת מהמנהלת שתדאג שיגיעו הודעות ומכתבים האוסרים את הנ"ל עוד היום! כל יום שעובר חושף אותנו לעוד דברים...

בתודה מראש

Judaism in America ca. 2019

Q:  Why did Adam and  Eve have a perfect  marriage?
A:  He didn't have to  hear about all the men she could have married, and she didn't  have to hear about the way his mother cooked 

Q:  What business is a  yenta  in?
A:   Yours.

Q:  How do Jewish wives get their children ready for dinner?
A:  They put them in the car.    

Q:  What does a Jewish woman do to keep her hands soft and her nails long?
A:  Nothing at all  

Q:  Define "genius"
A:  An average student with a Jewish mother

Q:  If Tarzan and Jane were Jewish, what would Cheetah be?
A:  A fur coat

Q:   What mechanical device causes the most envy in a Jewish woman?
A:   A Mercedes 550SL convertible

Jewish proverb: "A Jewish wife will forgive and forget, but she'll never forget what she forgave."

One of life's mysteries - how a 2Ib. box of chocolates can make a Jewish woman gain 5lbs.

Another of life's mysteries is when a Jewish woman hangs something in her wardrobe for a while and it shrinks two sizes!

The trouble with some Jewish women is that they get all excited about nothing; then they marry him.


A Bar Mitzvah is defined as the day when a Jewish boy comes to realize that he is more likely to own a professional sports team than he is to play for one.

Wednesday, March 29

חסידים נודדים בגשר אדום, שבת יו קיי תשע"ו

video

על מעוכבי השידוכים שבינינו

בס"ד
הרב טוביה פריינד הי"ו
בשיחה מעמיקה בקול חי מהדורת הבוקר עם מרדכי לביא
על מעוכבי השידוכים שבינינו 
ועל ארגון "הגפן" הקמת בתים בישראל 
בראשות הרב חיים שמרלר שליט"א ראש ישיבת אורייתא

Wake up call

This letter is from a Chassidic dad to his adult OTD daughter.
My dearest Suri,
As I fasted today, I sat and reflected on what our fast is all about. Why was our beautiful home in Yerushalayim destroyed? Why did the presence of HaShem leave us? What did we do to drive ourselves into this long bitter Galus?
I always knew the answer, but I don't think I understood it as well as I do right now. It was destroyed because
·         We were judgmental of those who did not ACT the way we wanted them to act.
·         We were embarrassed of those who did not DRESS the way that we wanted them to dress.
·         We looked down at those that did not TALK the way we wanted them to talk.
And our misplaced ego caused us to think that we are better than they are.
This is what caused us to destroy ourselves completely. Without having an Ayin Tovah, a favourable and understanding eye on those around us, we are not deserving of having the divine presence of Hashem live among us. We threw ourselves out with our self-righteous mindset.
Which group of us caused the destruction? The ones “on the derech” or the ones “off the derech”?
On this I sit and cry... my eyes fill with tears... the epiphany just hit me like a ton of bricks: It was not the ones wearing jeans that caused the destruction, rather, it was the ones not wearing jeans who then looked down upon those who wore the jeans!
WE are the ones who destroyed the beis Hamikdosh and we have not yet corrected our sin!
In fact, with Torah and Mitzvos being so strong... we have perhaps even strengthened our sin... we have taken it to a higher level.
I look at myself... am I not part of the group who uses our beautiful religion to look down at others?
And if so, am I not the one responsible for our current exile? What good is my fasting and sitting on the floor if I cannot face the truth that “I” am currently responsible for this tragedy?!
I now fully realise that it is not you and your friends who are preventing Moshiach from coming... it is me and my friends!
I wrote my own Kinnos:
·         Woe is to me for I have repeated and repeated the original sin that caused the Churban!
·         Woe is to me for I have stabbed my own flesh and blood!
·         Woe is to me for I took the holy Torah that is supposed to be sweet and peaceful
"Derocheyhoh Darchei NO’AM Vechol Nesivoseyhoh SHALOM"; the Torah’s ways are sweet and its paths lead to peace - I used it to form a dagger that I then used to stab you - and others - over and over again!!
And so after a long day of fasting and contemplation, I look back at the way that I treated you and for this I now sit and cry. My dear sweet beloved Suri!!
How can I ever take back the pain that I caused you?
How can I ever repay you for the smiles and hugs that you so deserved... but didn’t get from me because I was too busy justifying to myself why it is OK for me to look down at you… to judge you harshly… and to actively destroy the Bais Hamikdosh?
How can I give you back the lost years?
My dear Suri, a long long long time ago, I looked into the future and dreamed about the day that you would grow up, mature, learn right from wrong, wake up from your selfishness and finally come ask me for forgiveness… but after a lot of inner searching... “I” grew up, and “I” matured, and “I” learned right from wrong, and now “I” finally finally woke up from MY selfish, haughty, egotistical, judgmental attitude!
And now on this painful day I turn to you and I ask you – no, I BEG you - for forgiveness!!
·         I accept upon myself to shower you with love and affection, with hugs and kisses, and to do everything in my power to always be there for you through thick and thin!
·         I pledge to work so so hard to make up for all of the pain that I caused you.
·         I pledge to never look down at you, your friends, or on ANY JEW ever again.
·         I am DONE with the negative attitude! I am DONE with being the judge and jury to another Yid!
·         I am DONE with thinking that I am BETTER than ANY other Jew in Klal Yisrael.
·         I am DONE being a part of the problem... and I pledge that as of right this moment...
·         I will become a part of the SOLUTION!!
My Suri, please open your heart to me... please open your arms to me... hug me, hold my hand and let us build the beis Hamikdosh together…
What do you say?
Your loving Tutty

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone

Monday, March 27

Rabbi Imanuel Ravad from Mikva-Tikva.org comes to Stamford Hill

Date: 14 March 2017
Rabbi Imanuel Ravad from Mikva-Tikva.org comes out strongly for Mikva education.
By Rabbi Y. D. Steinfeld
London, 14/03/2017
Rabbi Imanuel Ravad has become a legend in our times, acting as a one-man-band he is championing and advocating for the holy Mitzvah of Mikva.  He is a man on a mission, with an unequal determination to achieve his goal of ensuring Mikva education for every Yid around the globe.  
Rabbi Ravad, a Hebron-born Talmid Chochom is one of the first Talmidim of the Ponevezh Rov, Harav Kahanman ZTZ”L from the time when The Rosh Yeshivah arrived in Israel and later on served as his personal secretary.
Forty years ago he launched his Mikva Mission, calling it “Mikva-Tikva” – Hope for Purity.
Rabbi Ravad always finding a deeper meaning to this important pillar of authentic Judaism. He constantly refreshes his arsenal with new essays and stories to emphasise how immersion in the Mikva waters has many different levels of Kedushah and Taharah. His credo is: A better understanding makes the immersion more meaningful and so one has to take it really seriously - the way it was intended for us.
By way of explaining this important Jewish law, he uses the analogy of someone who eats bread on a daily basis but still doesn’t know what it takes to bake it, or the one who tastes a good piece of meat but it doesn’t make him into a Shochet - ritual slaughterer.
Rabbi Ravad has travelled the world, through Europe, North and South America and the Far East, spreading his message for revitalising Mikva for every Jew.  He argues with those who question his ambitious campaign: “The problem is not the lack of a Mikva, rather a chronic lack of Mikva education and awareness. Some communities are living in luxury homes with Olympic size swimming pools, they can afford to build their own Mikva - if only we invest in Mikva education”.
It should be pointed out: unfortunately the majority of Yidden don’t observe the Halacha of Mikva, besides a large percentage that has never even heard about the concept.
Rabbi Ravad is launching his new strategy, which he hopes to bring to the religious community: “It is impossible for one man to educate everyone!  Therefore: Ain Braira – there is no choice!  Each Mikva should spread the Mikva-message to both the affiliated and non‑affiliated.  By devoting at least the first 10% of the operating budget to Mikva education.   If for every item that we buy, 10-30% of the cost goes towards its promotion, Mikvas should charge likewise - not just for the water, soap and towels. The Mikva fee should include at least 10% towards Mikva education of every Yid.
A meeting will be held this coming Sunday Parshas Vayakhel, 21 Adar - 19 March, at 8:30 in the evening.  Notable Askonim and Ba’alei Battim have been invited to the North London venue, which is the Mercaz Torah V’Chesed Shul, 73 Ravensdale Road, N16 6ST.  We also need local activists to spread the message of Mikva; call 00447947823743 for more information.

Mikva education


Thursday, March 23

Food for Thought Parshas Masay תשע''ד

The question actually warmed my heart. It came from a responsible bochur, who had recently organised an event in Yeshiva. ‘How can I show appreciation to 3 bochurim who really helped make the shabbos hisachdus a success?’. He explained to me why a bar of chocolate accompanied with a note would be inappropriate, and just a ‘Thank you’ itself would be dismissed as a nicety.
Yes, and it got me thinking. Fostering a train, a flow, a chain, a continuum of chesed is not simple. That an action of chesed by one individual, should automatically breed and create ripples of further acts of kindness by others, is not a given. We find this stark reality, as chazal point out, that although the prime cause of the churban bayis sheini was due to sinas chinam, [1]nevertheless Gemilus Chasodim was still practiced.
Could it be, that the two, chesed and sinas chinam, could even be linked, that chesed could actually even spark sinas chinam ? Could it even be, that on occasion one must even rein oneself in from acting benevolently, as this will only be the cause of animosity in the long run?
The Steipler Ztl is [2]bothered by a seemingly incomprehensible statement that Chazal make. [3]Kol odom shain boi dayoh, ossur lerachem olov . ‘It is forbidden to have compassion on anyone, who does not have intelligence’. Surely this goes against all our principles; this can’t be understood at face value. We place utmost importance in our communities in caring for children and for all others, however limited their intelligence is? We are privileged to be carriers of the unique genes of Avrohom Yitzchok and Yaacov, and with those physical chips we also inherited our [4]hallmarked characters. We have no debate about euthanasia, our chesed is performed regardless of the beneficiaries intelligence, but rather being based on their inherent Tzelem Elokim ?
Stand back! The Steipler ztl  is about to enlighten us with an incredible insight, to my mind it is as if he launches a brilliant flare which totally illuminates the night sky.
Chazal are blowing the whistle and warning us ‘Don’t do chesed to an ingrate, with one who shows no gratitude, but rather views his benefactors with disdain, and sees them as weak selfish egoistic personalities fulfilling their own needs’. 
But what could be so wrong performing chesed to these individuals, surely it makes the benefactor even more altruistic? Explains the Steipler ztl that in order for  this ingrate to demonstrate that he is not a recipient, he will actually play broigez. ‘Why are you bothering me, I can manage fine, why are you intruding into my comfort zone, can’t you see I don’t  want you, and I don’t need you’. This will further result in the benefactor feeling slighted and hurt, and very soon hatred will follow in its wake. 
But it doesn’t end there, because he does need your help, and he will be back, and the next time your kindness will still be aroused despite his despicable behaviour. But you are a little wary this time and not as forthcoming, not wanting to be kicked in your face.  But then comes the real explosion, ‘ You call yourself a kind person – yeah your such a fopper , look just because I didn’t thank you on the front page of the papers, you are broigez with me now, you see I was right, everybody knows that you do it all for attention and recognition!’. Ouch!
Chazal tell us ‘Beware before it is too late, don’t get involved with ingrates to begin with, it will only spawn [5]hatred, not the loving kindness that you so wish for. Perhaps this is also an understanding, of how it is possible for sinas chinom to co- exist with gemilas chesed.
Blind kindness, can be truly blind. Of course we want to bring more kindness into the world, but we must listen to chazal who constantly guide us in everything, as to how to perform chesed. Unfortunately at times we may need to stand back, even restrain our ourselves from doing chesed  , despite our burning desire to assist.
Those that ‘Repay good with bad’, have been indicted by [6]Rabein Yonah as ‘Those whose sin are beyond forgiveness’. Unfortunately as a result of the [7]prolonged ravages of this Golus, there are those sad beings whose middos have taken a beating, their beautiful golden personalities have become contorted and twisted out of shape. We may not be able to help everyone. We daven that Hashem should bring the Geulah speedily in our days, and that our [8]inner Botei Mikdosh will also be restored to their full former glory.



[1] יומא ט: אבל מקדש שני, שהיו עוסקין בתורה ובמצות וגמילות חסדים מפני מה חרב? מפני שהיתה בו שנאת חנם.
[2] ברכת פרץ על התורה פרשת בשלח – 'עוד לפרשת בשלח'
[3] סנהדרין דף צב - ואמר רבי אלעזר: כל אדם שאין בו דעה אסור לרחם עליו, שנאמר (ישעיהו כ״ז) כִּי לֹא עַם בִּינוֹת הוּא עַל כֵּן לֹא יְרַחֲמֶנּוּ עֹשֵֹהוּ וְיֹצְרוֹ לֹא יְחֻנֶּנּוּ.
[4] יבמות עט - שלשה סימנים יש באומה זו: הרחמנים, והביישנין, וגומלי חסדיםֹ .
[5]  ואמר רבי אלעזר: כל הנותן פיתו למי שאין בו דעה יסורין באין עליו וכו' סנהדרין צב.
 [6]   משלי פרק יז' יג' יג   מֵשִׁיב רָעָה תַּחַת טוֹבָה וכו' וכו' רבינו יונה גדול עוונו מנשוא.
[7]    שיר השירים א' ו' - אַל תִּרְאוּנִי שֶׁאֲנִי שְׁחַרְחֹרֶת שֶׁשֱּׁזָפַתְנִי הַשָּׁמֶשׁ וכו' 
 8  ע' בנפש החיים שער א פרק ד – ושכנתי בתוכם וכו'
ואולי זה גם דרך להבין הקפדת התורה בציווי הָקֵם תָּקִים עִמּוֹ: עמו. עם בעליו, אבל אם הלך וישב לו, ואמר לו הואיל ועליך מצוה, אם רצית לטעון, טעון, פטור: [ ב.פ. נ''י ]
©ycohen@baer.org.uk

The Bankrupt Borrower

This week’s parsha includes details about being honest in our business dealings. Is declaring bankruptcy to absolve one of one’s debts, considered honest according to halachah?

The Bankrupt Borrower
By Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff

The Bankrupt Borrower
Mr. Gomel Chessed shares with his rav, Rav Chacham, the following predicament: “I loaned someone money, and I did not hassle him for payment when he told me that things were tough. Recently, I contacted him to ask if he is in any position to pay back. He replied that he was forced into bankruptcy and thereby absolved all his debts. Does he, indeed, no longer owe me for the loan?”

Gomel’s rav explains that although the Gemara and the Shulchan Aruch do not recognize a concept called bankruptcy, there are authorities who contend that, at least in some circumstances, halachah requires that a bankruptcy court’s decision be honored. Gomel is eager to hear the full explanation, so his rav provides him with some background material to read until they make an appointment to discuss the matter at length.

Gomel truly enjoyed researching the topic, and discovered that he also wanted to know all the related subjects. As a result, he became somewhat of an expert on much of the halachic material germane to his question.

Responsibilities of a Borrower
One of the first topics Gomel researched was the extent that a borrower must go to pay his debts. He was surprised to discover how strongly halachah requires someone to repay his debts and to make his payments on time. In addition, it is strictly forbidden to claim that one is unable to pay a debt when he can, and it is similarly forbidden to hide money so that a creditor cannot collect. This is true even if the creditor is very wealthy.

It is forbidden to borrow money that one does not think he will be able to repay. According to some authorities, money borrowed under the false pretense that the borrower intends to repay it is considered stolen, and not borrowed, funds. The halachic ramifications of this distinction are beyond the scope of this article.

If a debtor’s loan is due and he cannot pay, halachah requires that he sell his house, his furniture and his other household items, if necessary, to repay the debt, unless he can convince his creditor to forgive the debt or to wait longer for payment (Graz, Hilchos Halvaah 1:5).

Since the debtor must use whatever money he has available to pay his debt, he is required to trim his expenditures so that he can pay his creditor. Until his debt is repaid, he may not make significant contributions to tzedakah (Sefer Chassidim #454). Furthermore, he may not purchase a lulav and esrog, but instead must fulfill the mitzvah by borrowing from someone else (see Pischei Teshuvah, Choshen Mishpat 97:8). It goes without saying that luxuries and vacations are out. Someone who uses his money to purchase non-essential items when he has an overdue debt demonstrates a lack of understanding of the Torah’s priorities. One who squanders money and therefore is unable to repay his loans is called a rosho (Rambam, Hilchos Malveh 1:3).

Systematic Collection
Having researched how responsible a debtor must be, Gomel next studied the following topic: If a debtor unfortunately owes more money than he can pay, how does the halachah decide that we divide the debtor’s limited financial resources among his creditors?

Gomel discovered that the halachos governing who collects first are highly complicated. He also discovered that, when there are insufficient financial resources to pay all of the person's debts, halachah views the priorities of who receives, and how much, very differently from civil law. Here are some basic ideas.

The Gemara works with a concept called shibud by which most debts are automatically secured with property that the debtor owned at the time he created the obligation. When this system was followed, if a debtor defaulted on an obligation, a creditor who exhausted all means of collecting directly from the debtor’s holdings could collect these secured debts from real properties that the debtor once owned and had subsequently sold. The system in place allowed that potential purchasers could find out whether a property had a lien on it prior to purchasing it. (This would loosely parallel what we call today a “title search” performed before purchasing property to ascertain that the property is without any liens and that the seller has clear ownership.) The potential lien on all the properties of a debtor encouraged people to pay their debts so that they could sell their properties more easily, and also enabled people to borrow investment capital.

Who Collects First?
Under the Gemara’s shibud system, when there are two or more claims on a property whose value is less than the outstanding debt, the creditor with the earliest claim collects as much as he can, and, after his claim is paid, the creditor with the next earliest claim collects, and so on (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 104:1).
When Gomel asked contemporary halachic authorities if this system is used today, he was told that one would not be able to collect from such properties unless they were mortgaged.

Why did the halachah change?

Since today no one applies the system of the Gemara, the creditor did not expect to be able to collect from any properties after the debtor sells them. As a result, the creditor did not acquire shibud on any of the debtor’s properties (Shu’t Igros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat 2:62).

Bad Talmudic debts
When there is no shibud claim on any properties, then, under the Gemara’s system, the outstanding creditors collect, but not proportional to the amount that each is owed. According to most authorities, we still follow whose claim is earliest. Others rule that everyone is paid equally according to the availability of resources (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 104:13 and Sma). Either approach results in a major difference between the Gemara’s system and the modern approach. Under the modern approach, the court calculates what is the ratio of the available resources to the debt, and pays all creditors a percentage of the debt based on the result.

By now, Gomel has studied much of the Gemara and commentaries on the topic of debt collection, and he has a good idea how bad debt was collected in the time of the Gemara. After reviewing his studies with Rav Chacham, Gomel is ready to understand how and if bankruptcy fits into a halachic system. He soon discovers that he now needs to master a very complicated concept of halachah called dina demalchusa dina.

Dina Demalchusa Dina
In the time of the Gemara, most countries and governments were kingdoms. This meant that the people living in an area recognized one individual to be responsible to maintain law and order within the country and to protect the citizenry from external enemies and greedy neighbors. Without a government, people are in constant danger from the chaos that occurs when there is no respect for a central authority. To quote the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (3:2), “Pray for the peace of the kingdom, for if people are not afraid of it, one man will swallow another alive.” Anyone who has ever seen or read of the mass looting that transpires when there is a breakdown of authority knows exactly what this means.

The king or government requires an army to protect the country from its external enemies, a police force to uphold law and order, and royal palaces and government offices that are well maintained so that the king’s authority is respected. All this requires funding, and the people realize that they need to pay taxes so that the king and/or government can protect them (see Rashbam, Bava Basra 54b s.v. VeHa’amar). The halachah of dina demalchusa dina recognizes that the king and his properly appointed agents have the right to collect taxes (Nedarim 28a).

Din Melech
When the tribes of Israel approached their prophet, Shmuel, requesting that he appoint a king, Shmuel attempted to dissuade them by noting the tremendous power that a king has. He will draft the most talented sons to till his fields, harvest his crops and perform other services; he will draft their daughters as perfumers, bakers and cooks; and he will raise high taxes (Shmuel I 8:11-18). The Gemara (Sanhedrin 20a) cites a dispute as to whether a Jewish monarch has the extensive authority that Shmuel describes or if Shmuel was simply threatening the people in an attempt to dissuade them from having a king. The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 4:1) and most authorities rule that the king indeed does have this authority.

Some poskim understand that a non-Jewish king, also, draws his authority based on this concept of din melech. That is, the Torah reserved the rights described by the prophet Shmuel for any monarch. (Even for those who contend that Shmuel was merely threatening the people and that the king does not have this extensive authority, the concept of dina demalchusa dina is still accepted; they simply do not consider the din melech of Shmuel to be the source of the law of dina demalchusa dina.)

Democratic taxes
Although the early authorities discuss dina demalchusa dina primarily in terms of the rights of a king, most later authorities understand that this halachic power exists equally in a democracy (see Shu’t Yechaveh Daas 5:63).

Gomel discovered that the vast majority of halachic authorities regard dina demalchusa dina as a Torah-mandated concept (see Shu’t Dvar Avraham 1:1; Avnei Meluim 28:2; Shu’t Chasam Sofer, Yoreh Deah #314), although there is a minority opinion that contends that dina demalchusa dina was introduced by Chazal (Beis Shemuel, 28:3).

Many authorities rule that a king may not arbitrarily create new taxes; he may only collect that which has been previously established (Ritva, Nedarim 28a; see lengthy list in Encyclopedia Talmudis, Volume 7, page 318, footnote 559). Why is this true? When people appointed the original king to protect them, they accepted certain taxes with which to pay him for his “services.” According to these rishonim, neither this king nor his successors have an arbitrary right to create new taxes or increase taxes without the consent of the governed.

Traffic and safety regulations
Thus far, we have seen that dina demalchusa dina governs the right of the king or the government to collect taxes. Dina demalchusa dina also requires obeying rules of the government, such as the prohibitions against smuggling and counterfeiting. However, dina demalchusa dina goes much further. Some authorities maintain that dina demalchusa dina requires everyone to obey government-created rules that are clearly for the common good (Ramban, Bava Basra 55a). One may argue that this includes traffic laws, and regulations governing sanitation, safety and health. Those who do not agree that dina demalchusa dina extends this far feel that dina demalchusa dina is limited to matters that more directly affect the government (see Maggid Mishnah, Hilchos Malveh 27:1). All opinions agree that dina demalchusa dina applies to matters which breach the authority of the governing parties (Igros Moshe op. cit.). The exact extent to which this is applied practically will affect Gomel’s original question, whether dina demalchusa dina applies to bankruptcy law.

No government influence
What areas of halachah are not subject to dina demalchusa dina?

Dina demalchusa dina does not replace the civil laws of the Torah (the laws of Choshen Mishpat) that govern the relationships between Jews (Shu’t Harashba 3:109, quoted by Beis Yosef, Choshen Mishpat end of Chapter 26; Shach, Choshen Mishpat 73:39). For example, dina demalchusa dina does not affect the laws of inheritance. These laws are governed by the Torah’s laws of yerushah.

Similarly, the laws of damages (nezakin), the laws of shomrim – responsibility for taking care of someone else’s property – and the property laws involved in  marriage are all areas of halachah in which Jews are required to follow the laws of the Torah. Therefore, when a Jew lends an item to another, the laws governing his responsibility are those of the Torah, not the local civil code. This is because it is no infringement on the government’s authority when people make their own arrangements as to how to manage these areas of their lives (Igros Moshe).

Government Influence
On the other hand, there are certain areas of contract law that are heavily influenced by dina demalchusa dina. For example, the laws of employee relations are governed by local custom (Yerushalmi, Bava Metzia 7:1), and these are usually heavily influenced by civil law.

What about Bankruptcy?
As I wrote above, the Gemara and the Shulchan Aruch do not mention any concept of bankruptcy. Gomel began to research if anyone discusses whether or not halachah recognizes the laws of bankruptcy under the laws of dina demalchusa dina. Indeed, he discovered a dispute among great authorities of the late twentieth century whether dina demalchusa dina applies to the laws of bankruptcy. In a responsum, Rav Moshe Feinstein rules HowHowHH
that dina demalchusa dina applies only to matters in which the government takes an interest because they may affect the stability of the country. For example, if the country does not have consistent markets, this could create problems that the government wants to avoid. Therefore, the government has a halachic right under dina demalchusa dina to insist that its laws insuring stable markets are followed.

Rav Moshe concludes that the laws of bankruptcy are within the parameters of dina demalchusa dina, since the government has a right to insist that there be a consistent rule of law applied throughout the country regarding how bad debts are discharged.
In the case brought before Rav Moshe, a company had gone bankrupt, and the directors had paid one of its creditors for his outstanding debt in violation of the bankruptcy rulings. The question was whether the individual was required to return the money that he had been paid because of dina demalchusa dina. Rav Moshe ruled that if the company had already filed for bankruptcy when this money was paid, then the creditor is halachically required to return the money. This is because dina demalchusa dina establishes the regulations how one may pay once one has filed for bankruptcy.

We find responsa from two prominent European authorities, Rav Yitzchak Weiss (Shu’t Minchas Yitzchak 3:134), then the av beis din of Manchester (and later the Gaon Av Beis Din of the Eidah HaChareidis in Yerushalayim), and from Rav Yaakov Breisch of Zurich, Switzerland (Shu’t Chelkas Yaakov 3:160). (It is interesting to note that these two great poskim were mechutanim.) From the limited description of the cases that each responsum contains, it seems that they were asked concerning the same situation:

Reuven advanced Shimon a personal loan, and Shimon subsequently declared bankruptcy. As required by law, Shimon had notified all his creditors, Reuven included, that he had filed for bankruptcy protection and that Reuven had the right to protest the bankruptcy arrangements. Reuven did not protest the bankruptcy proceedings, which ultimately ruled that Shimon was required to pay only thirty cents per dollar owed to his creditors.

Subsequently, Reuven sued Shimon in beis din for the entire loan. Shimon contended that he is not required to pay Reuven any more than the thirty cents to the dollar that the bankruptcy court ruled that he was required to pay. Reuven, the creditor, claimed that he had never forgiven any part of the loan. He claimed that he did not protest the bankruptcy proceedings for several reasons, among them that he was unaware that a personal loan which was not meant for profit is included in bankruptcy proceedings.
The rav who was asked the shaylah referred it to these well-known poskim. They both contend that dina demalchusa dina does not apply to bankruptcy procedures. In their opinion, dina demalchusa dina never supplants an area of halachah where the Torah provides its own guidelines.

They do agree that if there was evidence that Reuven had accepted the court’s ruling, he would no longer be entitled to full payment, because he had been mocheil, forgiven, the balance of the loan. Once someone is mocheil a loan or part of a loan, he cannot afterwards claim it. However, they contend that in the situation at hand, there is no evidence that Reuven was ever mocheil the balance of the loan.

It would seem from Rav Moshe Feinstein’s responsum that he would have ruled differently and contended that once the court declared Shimon bankrupt, Reuven would have been obligated to honor the court’s decision because of dina demalchusa dina.

At this point, Gomel sat down to discuss with Rav Chacham whether his own debtor can claim protection from the balance of his loan because he has declared bankruptcy. According to the Chelkas Yaakov, the Minchas Yitzchak, and other authorities, the debtor has no basis for claiming bankruptcy protection. According to Rav Moshe Feinstein, one would have to check with an attorney whether the debtor’s bankruptcy protects him legally from Gomel’s loan even though Gomel was not informed of the bankruptcy proceedings. Assuming that the bankruptcy proceedings can, indeed, protect the debtor, it would seem that, according to Rav Moshe and some other authorities, the debtor has grounds to his argument.

Conclusion
Lending money is a valuable mitzvah. When someone fulfills the mitzvah of lending money to a fellow Jew, he is not providing a gift, but a loan that he has a right to expect will be repaid. As the Tanna, Rabbi Shimon, notes in the second chapter of Pirkei Avos, “the evil path from which a person should distance himself” can be explained easily in the words of Dovid Hamelech: The wicked borrow and do not repay; whereas the righteous is gracious in his giving. Someone who borrows must always have a plan how he intends to return the funds.
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Copyright 
04 May 2014 Rabbi Kaganoff 
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