Sunday, July 04, 2010

Redeeming with a Check

The Gemora cites a braisa: Rebbe says that a person can use anything to redeem his firstborn son from the Kohen, aside from documents. The Rabbis say: A person can use anything besides for slaves, documents, and land.

The Chasam Sofer in a teshuva (Y”D 134) discusses if redemption would be valid when the father pays the Kohen by check. Is a check regarded as money because it is accepted as cash all over or do we say that it is regarded as a document since there is no inherent value in the paper itself?

He concludes that a check can be regarded as money for some things, but as a document for others. If it is regarding a matter which is between people, then a check would be considered money, since it is commonly accepted. However, regarding redemption of a firstborn, which is between man and Hashem, a check would be regarded as a document and the redemption would not be valid. He explains: The father is actually redeeming his firstborn son from Hashem, but He gave over the monetary rights to the five selaim to the Kohen. Since it is the Torah that set the requirement for the money, the redemption will only be valid if the father gives to the Kohen something that is itself valued at five selaim.

The Chazon Ish (Y”D 72:10) disagrees and maintains that a check would be regarded as money and the redemption would be valid.