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In the case of the Chabad library case (Agudas Chasidei Chabad of United States, v Gourary) a US federal court ruled that the (Previous) Rebbe's books belong to the Chabad community and not his personal heirs (Gurary). This is celebrated every year within Lubavitch as Hey Teves. While this case did not come to a Beis Din, what are the general halachic (and Chassidic) principles which would decide it?

No Hate Please

(Feel free to improve on the question)

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  • I have the opposite situation since my great-grandfather was the last rov of Ansbach before the Holocaust.
    – pcoz
    Dec 6 '21 at 4:30
  • I saw on add story in Our Man in Jerusalem, in which the Gerrer Rebbe (circa 1947) gave a hagaddah to a soldier and then many years later his descendants found out about it and asked for it back (ayin sham for the ending of the story). Which I thought was pretty odd, because if the Gerrer Rebbe gave a haggadah to this soldier, then why are his descendants asking for it back. Unless they hold that the sefarim of the rebbe are not the rebbe's personal property.
    – pcoz
    Dec 6 '21 at 4:43
  • Possibly the reason the courts decided in favour of Chabad is because in American law, a corporation can be identified as a "person"/"character". Therefore this blurs even more the distinction of the rebbe as a person and the rebbe as "head of a corporation".
    – pcoz
    Dec 6 '21 at 5:09
  • @pcoz I haven't looked at the Ger story, but often people really want to have as much of a loved one's belongings to hold onto after that person's death.
    – Harel13
    Dec 6 '21 at 6:44
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    This is an excellent question. Not opinion based and not asking for a practical Pesak. it should be reopened.
    – Eliyahu
    Dec 6 '21 at 20:53
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This is a comment not a answer but it has too many words for the comment section

No one can answer without hearing both sides and no one is presenting an unbiased version. Chabad presented a letter from the Rayatz saying that he wanted the library for the use of the Chasidus. Not personal use. As such it would be difficult to side with Gurary.

The librarian sided with Gurary and claimed that it was regarded by the Rayatz as personal property but he is just a Eid Eched against Chabad who were the muchzokim because the seforim were in their property and possession. As Yorshim they would not even make a shvua. Plus the edus of a librarian could always be contested in Beis Din due to "Kol Milsa D'lo Ramya Eley D'Inash Lav Adatey"

I'm sure Gurary and Chabad presented evidence for their sides that I'm not aware of.

The question would also depend on the nature of the Chasidus involved.

I know someone whose grandfather gave an expensive Kiddush cup to a major pre holocaust Rebbe. After the holocaust that Chasidus more or less ceased to exist but descendants of that Rebbe who managed to escape took the Kiddush cup with them to America while escaping. He attempted to get the item back claiming that his grandfather never would have given it to the Rebbe let alone his family as a personal gift. It was meant to be used at Chasidus functions. Being that they aren't happening anymore he wants it back. In the end he decided not to go to a Din Torah because he figured he won't get it back anyway so why bother with the fight?

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