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 so that he can park there.

Assuming that they live under the sovereignty of a non-Jewish government without any specific law on the matter, is Shimon obligated to step out of the spot so Levi can park there?

What if there was a law forbidding people from standing in parking spots? Does Levi have any halachic basis to ask Shimon to leave?

2 Answers 2


This is similar to the topic discussed here.

Generally, we say zachin l'adam shelo b'fanav, that you may acquire something for someone else if it is for his own benefit (even without his knowledge), except when your acquisition is at a third party's expense. However, in the case of acquiring a lost object on another's behalf, the gemara (Bava Metzia 10a-10b) rules that it may be done even though it is at the expense of all other potential finders of the object. Ramban and Tosafos differ, though, on the reason for the gemara's ruling. Tosafos say that since you have the ability to acquire the object for yourself, you may do so for your friend as well, even at the expense of another. Ramban says that since that third party in the case of the lost object is not any one specific person with particular rights to the object, he cannot prevent you from acqiring it for your friend.

Thus, when it comes to the parking space, Shimon is trying to acquire the space on Reuven's behalf and at the expense of Levi. According to Ramban, it seems this would definitely be okay, because Levi does not have any personal rights to the parking spot, and this is essentially the same case as the lost object. According to Tosafos, it's not as obvious. Can Shimon potentially acquire the space for himself without an actual car? Perhaps you can say that since Shimon can pay for the parking space himself and store his belongings there if he likes, so too he may save the spot for Reuven as well.

If, though, there is a law prohibiting Shimon from standing in the parking spot, then first we would employ dina d'malchusa if it is an enforced civil law, and second, Shimon may no longer have a halachic basis according to Tosafos' opinion, since he cannot acquire the spot for himself without a car and without breaking the law.

Of course, for practical rulings, CYLOR.

  • There is a difference, though, between having the potential to acquire something, and actually doing it. I don't think anyone would doubt that Shimon could actually pay for the spot on behalf of Reuven, and Levi would have no rights to it. The real question in my mind is not whether Shimon can stand in for Reuven (which he could as a messenger in this case), but rather whether one can hold on to the parking space for a few minutes without paying for it.
    – Avi
    May 29, 2011 at 16:20
  • You could extend this question and ask yourself is this an honest thing to do? I am not sure how is this considered in the talmud, but I can tell you that its an unfair act and you can see it for yourself if you extend the case.
    – RaamEE
    Jun 28, 2011 at 12:34
  • You could extend this question and ask yourself is this an honest thing to do? let me give an example. Lets say Shimon is saving a space for Reuven, how long can Shimon save that place? 5 minutes before Reuven arrives sounds OK. How about saving the place for 10 minutes before Reuven arrives?! doesn't seem so OK now. How about 60 minutes in advance?! Now you can see its completely unfair. What if Shimon wants to reserve more than 1 space, because he having some friends over. Can he save 1 space? 2 spaces? Can he save 5 spaces at once? I say, that this act is unfair for all cases.
    – RaamEE
    Jun 28, 2011 at 12:41
  • I would like to provide one more example to point to the fact that any unfair advantage is a violation of simple human ethics. Lets say you're first in line to buy the new iPhone5. The line is stretched around the block and everybody's waiting for 10 hours in the cold night for the store to open. Can you save a place in the line for your friends to come 5 minutes before opening and get inline behind you. I think you know the answer.
    – RaamEE
    Jun 28, 2011 at 12:47
  • @RaamEE, Welcome to judasim.SE and I hope you stick around to ask/answer questions. However, I must point out that your critique of this answer is unwarranted. @Tzvi was simply asking what Jewish law dictates concerning the matter of saving parking spaces. How the matter relates to "simple human ethics" is irrelevant. For halachic purposes, it may be perfectly permissible, yet one may choose not to do so based on ethically proper behavior or societal norm, etc. Inversely, many things that are perfectly acceptable by society's ethical standards may be prohibited by halacha....
    – jake
    Jun 28, 2011 at 19:56

Rav Herschel Schachter was asked this question regarding saving a parking space which you yourself shoveled out (from snow). He definitively said that one may not save the space. This seemed to be related to the fact that it is illegal.

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