Questions about the Jewish Code of monetary and civil law.

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35
votes
7answers
2k views

May I use my neighbor's Wi-Fi without asking permission?

My neighbor has never set up password protection on his wireless router. If I wanted, I could wirelessly connect to his high-speed Internet service. May I use his Internet service without asking him ...
17
votes
4answers
474 views

How do you handle possible Shabbat issues when receiving a jury summons?

The last time I was summoned for jury duty it was mid-week in January, and I made a point of telling the lawyers during questioning that I would have to be home before sunset on Friday. They were not ...
16
votes
5answers
509 views

Train ticket not collected: destroy?

Assuming a train line where single-ride tickets are normally collected or cancelled manually by train crew circulating among seated passengers, and it is physically possible to use them later if they ...
16
votes
3answers
429 views

Is ad-blocker software permissible?

Kalashnikover_Rebbe at hashkafah.com asks: Isn't blocking ads stealing??? The people put them on the sites for a reason.... He elaborates: On one hand the argument can be made that [forum ...
16
votes
3answers
322 views

Can I lend out a Library Book?

I just borrowed a wonderful book from the local library (let's assume Jewish library - but does it matter?). My friend sees the book and wants to read it. My library lets me keep the book for a week, ...
16
votes
2answers
241 views

Does Jewish Law Recognize Bankruptcy?

If someone borrowed money and then declared bankruptcy, does he still have a halachic obligation to pay it back? If the lender was a corporation (bank, etc.). If the lender was a friend. Do we say ...
15
votes
3answers
589 views

Is it permitted to take extra food from a buffet?

If you're at a hotel and there is a buffet meal, and you can take as much as you want, is there any problem taking a few extra rolls or any of the food back to your room for later? I assume if I'm not ...
14
votes
2answers
162 views

The two stamp question

One man owns two of the only very expensive stamps in the world. Let us say each stamp was worth a million dollars. A second man comes along and destroys stamp one. The catch is that now according to ...
14
votes
1answer
195 views

How much must one do to to sign a contract?

Nowadays most software comes with a EULA. In order to install the software one must click the "agree" button. However, there are some software that says are distributed through different licenses. For ...
13
votes
2answers
230 views

Can a book with ancient text really be copyright?

Pick up your local chumash, siddur or gemara. Open it to the front page. There it is, the dreaded ©. But to me that seems quite odd. Can the text of the actual davening or talmud really be ...
12
votes
3answers
184 views

In the Bible, why did robbers bother tunneling into houses to rob them?

Exodus 22:1 speaks about the robber who was found "tunnelling in" to someone's house (vis-a-vis self-defense). Is that just a figure of speech, or did they actually go to that much trouble? (What ...
12
votes
2answers
115 views

Are Jewish Court Rulings subject to Appeal?

Is there such a thing as an appeal in Jewish law, or are rulings issued by Jewish courts absolutely final?
12
votes
3answers
399 views

Are parents responsible if their children damage in a store?

If a parent brings a child (defined as under 13 for a boy and under 12 for a girl) into a store, and that child damages an item, is the parent responsible to pay? Would it matter if the child simply ...
12
votes
1answer
243 views

Insurance against משיח

According to this rather amusing blog post, there is apparently a common clause in rental contracts in Jerusalem, called the Messiah clause, in which, when a landlord outside of Israel rents out a ...
12
votes
2answers
319 views

What is the halachic status of things in outer space?

Is everything in outer space hefker? For example if a private person lands on the moon or an asteroid can he be koneh it? Do you retain the rights to something that you send into space?
11
votes
2answers
265 views

El Al Airfare error and Halachah

What are the Halachic implications of yesterday's El Al airfare snafu? In brief, El Al's air tickets were being sold online very cheap for a while; the price was later corrected, and El Al claimed the ...
11
votes
2answers
264 views

Receiving Too Much Change

Do I have an obligation to give back extra change I receive? Would it matter if the store owner or person giving it to me was a Jew?
11
votes
1answer
217 views

Does a child own what he's implicitly given by his parents?

I assume that when a parent owns an object and a child uses it, it remains the property of the parent's absent any intent/declaration on the parent's part to grant it to the child (and absent an act ...
11
votes
1answer
130 views

Can I keep the smuggled diamonds as an award?

Inspired by Diamonds in the coffee (and highly related): I've always got a kick out of the supposed story (I have not been able to confirm it's true, but it's definitely plausible): Reuven gives ...
10
votes
4answers
395 views

what are the limits of “mesira”?

It seems that most people have an idea that you cannot report a Jew to the non-Jewish authorities (police, government, etc) except for extreme circumstances (imminent danger, abuse, etc). However, ...
10
votes
4answers
394 views

“Is the market-based distribution of income fair or unfair?”

This post, by a leading economist, lists the main differences on economic policy between the right and left-leaning economists. On many economic issues, Judaism does not necessarily take a clear ...
10
votes
1answer
85 views

Using someone else's employee discount

Let's say my good friend Bob is an employee at Frank's Store of Stuff You'd Never Pay Full Price For. He gets an employee discount for his purchases there. Can Bob buy stuff and then sell it to me, ...
10
votes
1answer
151 views

Cell Phone Jammers in Halacha

I could not imagine cell phone jammers would be מותר, but perhaps my gut-feeling is wrong... Either way, I would be interested in knowing how they fit into halacha, and what the reasons behind ...
10
votes
1answer
91 views

How do you “take someone to beis din”?

Reuvain and Shimon are having a monetary dispute. Reuvain wants to take Shimon to beis din to settle the dispute, how does this work in practical terms? Does Reuvain have to tell Shimon first? Can he ...
9
votes
3answers
225 views

Stealing from a thief

If someone steals a previously stolen item from the thief is he guilty? Would it matter if he was stealing it only to return it to its original owner, or if the second thief was the original owner?
9
votes
2answers
235 views

Saving Parking Spots

Reuven calls Shimon to ask if Shimon may stand inside a parking spot and reserve it until Reuven gets there in five minutes. While standing there, Levi pulls up and directs Shimon to vacate the spot ...
9
votes
1answer
233 views

What Halachot apply to serving on jury duty?

Halachically, what are the responsibilities of one who is called to jury duty? What if one of the litigants is Jewish, and the halacha would find differently than civil law does in the case, are you ...
9
votes
3answers
110 views

Do our sources address the question of intellectual property vs the public good?

The NYTimes recently ran a piece about a malnourishment treatment that could save lives in Africa, but one company owns the recipe and controls it tightly. (See the article, I apologize if I'm not ...
9
votes
2answers
101 views

Threatening to sue with no intention to do so

Let's say that a person is rightfully owed a sum of money, and the debtor refuses to pay them. Can they threaten to take the person to Beis Din or a secular court, even if they have no intention of ...
9
votes
1answer
72 views

Is a check considered cash

If one paid someone with a check, and the recipient lost the check, does the giver have to write up a new check? One can say its like cash and if he lost then its not my problem, or one can say if I ...
9
votes
1answer
206 views

Is it acceptable to use software which incidentally blocks ads?

A question on this site on whether ad-blocking software is permissible suggests that the answer is that it probably, but not definitely, is acceptable. I don't use ad-blocking software myself, but I ...
9
votes
0answers
130 views

Intentionally using a grace period on a rental

I recently rented a bike for a few hours, and the person in charge of the rental told us that we have "X number of hours, and a 15 minute grace period," followed by the warning that if we don't return ...
8
votes
4answers
136 views

Riddle: How do dayyanim split wages between partners? [closed]

This is a riddle that was put to us in my kollel dayyanim. Two men set out on a journey together. One brings three loaves of bread, the other two. When they are getting ready for their meal, ...
8
votes
1answer
282 views

Neighbors inappropriate mail

If I see a neighbors inappropriate mail, am I allowed to throw it out?
8
votes
1answer
121 views

Does one have to return the specific bills that one stole?

If one stole a hundred dollars in regular cash (e.g. no rare bill editions), and still has those bills, does he have to return those particular bills or can he return any hundred dollars?
8
votes
3answers
171 views

Is there a concept in Jewish law similar to a corporation?

In modern law, a corporation, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is an "artificial person or legal entity created by or under the authority of the laws of a state or nation . . . ordinarily ...
8
votes
1answer
106 views

Animal rights vs other considerations in halacha and hashkafa

On a boat, Reuven owns five ostriches and one of them eats a diamond off of Shimon's hat which is on his head. Though we are not sure which one ate it we know with certainty that one of them did. ...
8
votes
1answer
91 views

Is Dina D'Malchusa a din in Gavra or in Cheftza?

Let's say that Reuvain owes Shimon money in American law, and Dina Demalchusa applies, does that mean: Reuvein has a halachic monetary obligation to Shimon which is as strong as any other ...
7
votes
4answers
384 views

Patents in Halacha?

If someone invents something new (and unique), does Judaism recognize that he has ownership over the invention [for x years]?
7
votes
2answers
236 views

Stealing from or causing damage to a third party to save life or limb

Suppose Fred is in danger of death or injury, and the most direct way to avoid that fate involves stealing or damaging property belonging to Ernie, an uninvolved person. Examples: Fred is being ...
7
votes
1answer
223 views

Riches found in a purchased item. Return or keep it?

A young rabbi reportedly found nearly $100,000 in a desk he'd purchased second-hand on Craigslist, and subsequently returned the money. Is this story about a Kiddush HaShem, or a Hassid Shoteh ...
7
votes
1answer
197 views

Are kickbacks prohibited?

Would a person be allowed to give/take bribes to a person responsible for purchasing in a company? Would it be forbidden directly as "shochad" (bribery) or under a general prohibition of Gnevas Daas, ...
7
votes
2answers
81 views

Dressing similarly at a Din Torah - When did this change and why?

Gemara Shevuos 31a says that if two people come to Bais Din one dressed in rags and the other dressed in expensive clothing, we make them dress similarly. Sefer Hachinuch Mitzva 235 indicates that ...
7
votes
1answer
126 views

Product liability in halacha

What does Judaism say about product liability? That is, if I sell someone a product and — because it was manufactured poorly or not as advertised — the purchaser sustains damage, to ...
7
votes
1answer
182 views

Transfer of loan / mortgage from non-Jew to Jew

What happens if a Jew borrows money on interest from a non-Jew, and then the lender turns around and sells the debt to a Jew? (Such transactions are very common in the mortgage industry.) Is it ...
7
votes
2answers
208 views

Self-defense (in a case of one's capital, not a capital case)

There is a well known rule that if A is threatening B's life, B may kill A, if necessary, to prevent that. Is there any such rule in non-capital cases? Specifically: If A is threatening B with ...
7
votes
1answer
102 views

Limits to Financial Dina Dmalchusa

What are the limits of Dina Dmalchusa (specifically financial Dina Dmalchusa, unlike this question which deals with non-financial dina dmalchusa)? In general, dina dmalchusa means one must pay taxes ...
7
votes
2answers
195 views

Are late or overdue fees Ribbis?

If I take out a library book, and they charge me $.10 per each additional day extra. Or if I owe money on a bill, and they charge me a $10 late fee for being overdue. Are these a case of Ribbis? Or ...
7
votes
1answer
94 views

Do we account for Sentimental Value?

Suppose Reuven steals a rare picture of Shimon's great grandfather from Shimon. Reuven then disposes of the picture and later wants to (or is caught, and therefore needs to) return the money to ...
7
votes
2answers
131 views

Attaching Conditions to a Sale

If I sell someone an item (e.g. an orange), and I attach a condition (e.g. "you may not make orange juice"), is it successfully binding? What happens if that someone does violate the condition (e.g. ...