Sunday, January 31, 2010

Yahrtzeit; Paying a Father's Debt; Davar shelo ba L'olam

A Yahrtzeit

Rabbi Meir Shapiro, the founder of the Daf Hayomi passed away on the day that those who were studying the daf during that cycle were learning Kesuvos 91.

The Gemora states: The orphans have a mitzvah to pay the debt of their father.

Hundreds of Reb Meir Shapiro’s students, who viewed themselves as only children of their beloved Rebbe swore by his coffin that they would continue building the illustrious Yeshiva of their Rebbe spiritually and financially. It was in this manner that they felt that they were paying the debt of their father; continuing his legacy.

And so it was. For the next six years, until the Holocaust, his Yeshiva flourished; his spirit was present in the walls of the Yeshiva, and served as a tremendous influence to all of his disciples.

Mitzvah to Pay the Father’s Debt

By: Reb Avi Lebowitz

Tosfos explains that the concept of their being a mitzvah on inheritors to pay the debts of their fathers depends on a few variables:
a. whether the father left them property from which to collect.
b. whether a debt without a contract is collectible from the orphans.
c. whether the orphans inherited anything from their father.

1. If the father leaves over property on which there is a loan with a contract - the orphans have a mitzvah to pay and we force them in beis din to pay.

2. If the father doesn’t leave over property - the orphans have a mitzvah to pay, but we don’t force them to pay [Rashash points out that the Shulchan Aruch (107) rules like the Hagahos Ashri that if the father doesn’t leave over anything, they don’t even have a mitzvah to pay at all].

3. If the father leaves them property on which there is a verbal loan, it depends: One opinion holds that a verbal loan is collected from orphans, so we force them to pay. But according to Rav and Shmuel that a verbal loan isn’t collected from orphans, they have a mitzvah to pay but we don’t force.

Perhaps the concept of forcing the orphans to pay is under the rubric of forcing for positive mitzvos. This seems to be supported clearly by Tosfos who quotes this Gemora not only for the reason that one must repay their own debt, but to justify why we force orphans to pay their fathers debt (when it is a contractual debt and he leaves over property). The difficulty is: if we force for mitzvas aseh, why don’t we force in all situations where they have a mitzvah to pay, even when he doesn’t leave over property on which there is a lien?

Conveying Properties that are not in Existence

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

Our sugya says that this principle applies to dinei mamonos [cases involving monetary matters]. As long as an article is nonexistent, it cannot be acquired (C.M. 209:4). However, under certain circumstances, when a kinyan [an act of acquisition] is made for something nonexistent, the seller must carry out the transaction.

Two Jews, one a Turkish chacham and businessman and the other captain of a cargo ship, went to the Maharit for a ruling. The Turkish chacham told the Maharit that he had recently signed a contract in which he had committed to sell four hundred skins to the captain. Now, after the chacham had reneged on his side of the deal, he argued that he had never been obligated to deliver the goods. He only intended to sell skins that were nonexistent at the time of sale and therefore the transaction is null and void since “nonexistent items cannot be sold.”

However, the Maharit ruled that the chacham could not use this excuse to sidestep his obligation. We can differentiate between selling a nonexistent article and obligating oneself concerning such an article. Although the sale of the nonexistent item is invalid, this is because there is nothing tangible for the sale to take effect upon. However, an obligation to sell such an article is binding because the obligation lies upon the person, who does exist. We regard his obligation as a monetary debt in the form of an object. The monetary debt is binding, for surely one can undertake to give money to someone else (see Ktzos HaChoshen 203:4).