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Many invitations come with return card envelopes that are already affixed with proper postage. Suppose, the recipient of such a card has no intention of replying (or decides to reply by some other means). Is s/he then allowed to use that unused postage for other purposes?

Why or why not?

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Why not? If someone gives you a bottle of wine to use for your Wednesday night dinner and you don't, aren't you allowed to use that bottle on Shabbas? – Charles Koppelman Nov 15 '12 at 1:11
@CharlesKoppelman Are you? Was the bottle a gift of thanks for inviting you to Wednesday night dinner, or was it for use at the Wednesday night dinner? – Double AA Nov 15 '12 at 1:16
@CharlesKoppelman Hmm... Are you? And perhaps this case is slightly different - the stamp isn't actually a gift. – yydl Nov 15 '12 at 1:18
@CharlesKoppelman Also, possibly related: this question – yydl Nov 15 '12 at 1:19
@CharlesKoppelman Actually, from the strict letter of the law, you're allowed to use a bottle for Shabbas on a weekday (according to Shulchan Aruch HaRav Orach Chayim 242:8) – b a Nov 15 '12 at 1:24

This question is most likely based on the story of the Chafetz Chaim. Rabbi Menashe Klein Zatzal says Al Pi Halacha a stamp may not be reused because the law requires you to pay a fee if you send your letter through the postal system.

However in this case where the stamp was never used as the letter was not sent I do not see why there would be any question, and it would seem to me that there is no problem using it.

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No. I'm actually asking from the angle of the person giving it for a purpose -- and you're using it for a different purpose. Obviously, the case is where the stamp wasn't used... Do you have a source for the premise that you can use it however you wish? – yydl Nov 16 '12 at 20:49
Then perhaps change your question to indicate that this is what you are asking. – Gershon Gold Nov 18 '12 at 0:59
It already does: I specifically note that I'm referring to "unused" postage. – yydl Nov 18 '12 at 6:34
@yydl If that's the angle you are asking from, you should include that detail in the question itself. (What we call around here 'motivation'.) – Double AA Aug 6 '15 at 16:43

From the "Halacha for Today" on Thursday, November 15, 2012 (emphasis mine):

If one receives a letter or an invitation that includes a return envelope with postage already affixed to it there is no obligation to respond to the letter or invitation just because the postage was pre-affixed, and there is also no obligation to return the stamped envelope to the sender

However, it is prohibited to use the stamped envelope for another purpose; it should be put aside until the arrival of Eliyahu Hanavi. (Ruling of HaRav Nisim Karelitz Shlita quoted in Sefer Hashovas Aveida K’Halacha[1] page 116)

[1]. By R' Feinhandler. Read first 40 pages for free. Find in a library near you. Not available on <hebrewbooks.org>.

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1) If you know who the sender is, what is the purpose of saving it until Eliyahu HaNavi comes? 2) Since it can be assumed that most people do not have unused-stampted-envelope collections, and simply discard those they do not use, shouldn't there be a presumption that the senders of such envelopes relinquish any expectation of getting them back? – Dave Dec 5 '12 at 3:50
I'm also confused about how Eliyahu is going to help this. – Double AA Dec 5 '12 at 7:11
@DoubleAA you're joking? – Yehoshua Dec 5 '12 at 13:37
@Yehoshua No. How would he help? If he means to not get hanaa from it ever, say to bury it. If he means it's really the original sender's, then give it back. What safek is Eliyahu going to mevarer? – Double AA Dec 5 '12 at 17:18
@DoubleAA Listen I'm assuming that was his kavana that the psak given that it's prohibited is only l'chumrah...But like anything said by today's Gedolim be careful how far to take it...Especially since not one savarah or mareh makom was given... – Yehoshua Dec 5 '12 at 18:25

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