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Let's say that a student told his Yeshiva that he will be returning the following year. For whatever reason, the student changed his mind.

At what point must the student tell the Yeshiva of his change of plans? Must he tell them immediately, or can he push it off a bit, and tell the Yeshiva closer to the start of the year?1

On the one hand, it doesn't matter to the Yeshiva whether the student comes or not; they will be giving that class anyway, regardless of one more or one less student.2 On the other hand, perhaps, since the Yeshiva is assuming that the student will be coming back, if the student doesn't tell the Yeshiva otherwise, it would be misleading the Yeshiva and therefore a prohibition of Geneivas Da'as.3


In principle, this is the opposite of this question regarding a school telling the students that the school is closing. However, the two sides of the question are very different in this case.


1 Obviously I am assuming that there are no previously signed agreements, no Dina D'malchusa applications, etc. - just the simple question of what does halacha say in a general case.

2 Obviously this side of the question would not apply if there really is a difference if that one student comes or not; say, they rely on his tuition to keep their doors open, or if he has a private tutor at the school who will need to be told not to prepare for him. I'm sure you can come up with loads of cases where that side would not apply and therefore every day they assume he's coming costs them. Obviously my question does not apply in such cases.

3 I'm unclear if intentional lack of action that leads to a party being mislead qualifies as Geneivas Da'as. A source proving that this indeed is not Geneivas Da'as would count as a valid answer to this question.

  • Does Ginevas Daas go as far as something which will mislead others but isn't intended to? People get misled all the time but I've never heard you have to actively avoid accidently misleading people. – Orion Aug 27 '18 at 4:09
  • @Orion I have no idea if Geneivas Da’as extends that far. But perhaps this could be different from the normal case - a person may not be required to avoid unintentionally misleading someone, but is that true when said misleading results from an intentional statement to them? – DonielF Aug 27 '18 at 13:44
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    I am lost as to what you are seeking in this question, esp. in view of your footnote. The "moral" thing to do would be to inform the yeshiva. AFAIK, every yeshiva reserves a maximum number of seats per class, and they also inform the rebbe who will be in the class. Rarely, does a yeshiva allow "extras" into the class, so you're occupying a seat, from someone who may be on a waiting list. Additionally, many yeshivot provide student "profiles" so that the rebbe can properly prepare his class to accommodate. If you don't come, it's not simple to replace someone w/ same "profile" as you. – DanF Aug 27 '18 at 16:44
  • @DanF Again, I’m assuming a case where there are no such extenuating circumstances, where there’s no loss whatsoever to the Yeshiva or a third party. Like I said, “I’m sure you can come up with loads of cases where...every day they assume he’s coming costs them. Obviously my question does not apply in such cases.” – DonielF Aug 27 '18 at 17:14
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    @DonielF I think what you're asking may be too theoretical as to be practical. If, for some reason, there will be no loss or harm caused to anyone, then, what other factors could possibly be needed that would require someone to inform them. It's a nice thing to do, but if the yeshiva doesn't care either way, then why should you? What if you want to keep your reasoning private? What if you had a serious illness and you don't want the yeshiva to know. Inevitably, if you call to say you're not coming, they will ask why, and you may be forced to lie or be placed in an uncomfortable position. – DanF Aug 27 '18 at 17:18
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Since asking this question, I’ve learned that Geneivas Da’as doesn’t apply to cases where someone acts in a way that can be misinterpreted; if someone misinterprets it on their own, that’s his problem.

Chullin 94b:

והא קמטעי להו אינהו הוא דקמטעו נפשייהו כי הא דמר זוטרא בריה דרב נחמן הוה קאזיל מסיכרא לבי מחוזא ורבא ורב ספרא הוו קא אתו לסיכרא פגעו אהדדי הוא סבר לאפיה הוא דקאתו אמר להו למה להו לרבנן דטרוח ואתו כולי האי א"ל רב ספרא אנן לא הוה ידעינן דקאתי מר אי הוה ידעינן טפי הוה טרחינן א"ל רבא מ"ט אמרת ליה הכי דאחלישתיה לדעתיה א"ל והא קא מטעינן ליה איהו הוא דקא מטעי נפשיה

But he’s misleading him! He is the one misleading himself. Like that with Mar Zutra the son of Rav Nachman, who was going from Sichra to Bei Mechuza, and Rava and Rav Safra were going to Sichra. They bumped into each other. [Mar Zutra] thought they were coming to greet him. He said to them, “Why did the Rabbis trouble themselves to come all this way?” Rav Safra said to him, “We didn’t know you were coming; had we known, we would have taken even more trouble!” Rava said to [Rav Safra], “Why did you tell him this, which upsets him?” [Rav Safra] said to Rava, “We were misleading him!” [Rava said to Rav Safra,] “He was misleading himself.”

We see from here that one is able to take inaction, even if it might be misinterpreted, as long as one does not actively mislead others. If they mislead themselves, that’s fine.

Therefore, Geneivas Da’as does not apply in this case, and the student may take all the time he needs before telling the school.

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I hate leaving a good question without a lousy answer...

Your question is two-fold and implies two sorts of possible transgressions:

  1. Monetary damages. Those are based either on an existing agreement or the accepted state of matters (state regulations?) which I collectively call Dinah DeMalchutah. So, theoretically, the student might be sued to pay damages as described in the agreement.

  2. Non-monetary בין אדם לחבירו Mitzvot: like deceit, לפני עוור, wasting of effort and time, הונאה/הונאת דברים and more.

Therefore our pious student must check two things - a. what the official agreement/regulations say b. are there any possible "spiritual damages" to specific people to prevent.

It is also important to note that it is very advisable to behave לפני משורת הדין, so if an earlier notice might help one should consider informing as early as he makes up his mind.

Of course, there's another part which is בין אדם למקום, as the Gm says "ה' יראה ללבב", meaning one should check his own intentions, to ensure that whatever he does (even Halachicly and legally) he has no intention to harm in any way.

  • Thank you for complementing my question as a good one, but this doesn’t answer my question at all. Your “monetary damages” section doesn’t help, as all of those I’ve excluded in footnote 1 of my question. My question is asking what falls under your point b, so just saying that he should check what falls under point b doesn’t help me at all. לפנים משורת הדין doesn’t help, either, since I’m not asking what he should do, but rather what he must do minimally. The only part that’s applicable is your final paragraph, but that isn’t a full answer, either. – DonielF Aug 27 '18 at 22:21
  • Your question was long and I probably lost my attention. Can you rephrase it in brief for ADHDs like me? – Al Berko Aug 27 '18 at 22:40
  • I really wonder you say "just the simple question of what does halacha say in a general case., and when one answer it in details you frown. – Al Berko Aug 27 '18 at 22:46
  • I frown because I specifically excluded your points in my question, and the remainder of your answer is just fluff. I asked a simple question - does Geneivas Da’as apply here, or, since it doesn’t matter otherwise, let him delay all he wants? I don’t care about Dina D’malchusa or any other considerations. – DonielF Aug 27 '18 at 23:19

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