April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h, and Meira Chaya Nechama Bracha, a”h, bat Reb David Mordechai Fishel, sheyichyeh.

This week we learned Bechorot 58. These are some highlights.

Is a person allowed to use someone else’s tallis without permission?

Our Gemara mentions the concept that people would like to perform mitzvot with their property. Rishonim explain that we assume a person would happily allow his property to be used for a mitzvah. However, where there is a possibility of damage and loss, we cannot assume that the person would be willing for his property to be used and possibly ruined. Maaser behema is a mitzvah that is not considered an event of possible loss. The owner of the animal is allowed to eat from the meat. If the maaser behema is unblemished, he offers it as a sacrifice; however, it is fully eaten by the owner. Unlike any other sacrifice, no part of maaser behema is given to the kohen. The altar merely gets the innards and fats, parts of the animal that most owners would not want to eat anyway. The Gemara applies the rule of nicha leih le’inish deli’avid mitzvah bemamoneih to maaser beheimah.

What about using a friend’s tallis without his permission? If you come to shul and realize that you did not bring your tallis, are you allowed to get a key, open the locked cubby of your friend, open his bag and use his tallis due to the assumption that nicha leih le’inish deli’avid mitzvah bemamoneih?

Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 14:4) rules that a person is allowed to wrap himself in his friend’s tallis, recite a blessing on it, even without asking for permission, so long as he folds it again nicely and returns it to its spot. The reason for this ruling is that we assume that a person wants a mitzvah to be performed with his property. Rama adds that the same is true with tefillin. A person is allowed to take someone else’s tefillin without his permission, use them, and then wrap them again and return them to their place. However, Rama teaches that a person is not allowed to take a sefer of his friend and learn from it without having gotten permission, for we fear that he might ruin the book and tear it. A person wants his property to be used for a mitzvah, but a person might not want to risk damage to his object.

Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 14:11-12) questions this ruling. He writes that in our days we find that many people are very particular about their stuff. This is especially the case if the tallis has been recently cleaned. There are people who clearly do not want other people wearing their clothes due to concerns of sweat and smell. He therefore questions the suitability of relying on the ruling of the Rama. Furthermore, he argues that Shulchan Aruch was discussing a shul in which people had folded their taleisim and left them on tables and chairs. In our synagogues, people fold their taleisim and put them away in cubbies. Placing the tallis away in a safe place is a clear sign of wanting it to be stowed and not allowing it to be used. In our synagogues, Aruch Hashulchan feels that a person is not allowed to take someone else’s tallis and use it without his express permission.

Kaf Hachaim (Siman 16) also rules that it is only when a tallis is lying about in a shul or hallway that Shulchan Aruch allows using it without first gaining the permission of the owner. However, if a tallis is in a locked cubby, we do not say that a person is allowed to bring a key, open the lock, and take the tallis. The owner is particular and therefore you cannot use it without his permission.

Ben Ish Chai (Parshat Lech Lecha, Shana Rishona ot 6) also rules that in our days we find that people are particular about their mitzvah objects. Most individuals do not want others to use their tallis or tefillin. Therefore, you cannot take the tallis or tefillin from the synagogue attendant who took them from the cubby of another person. You can only use someone else’s tallis or tefillin if you are sure he does not mind other people using his objects. Rav Yosef Chaim writes that he himself was a person who was particular and did not want people to use his tallis. (Mesivta)

By Rabbi Zev Reichman


Rabbi Zev Reichman teaches Daf Yomi in his shul, East Hill Synagogue.

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