Bobby was interested in buying a beautiful piece of jewelry for his wife for their upcoming anniversary. On his recent trip abroad, while window shopping, he found the perfect piece. However, he did not make the purchase at that time. As his birthday approached, he contacted Joey, an acquaintance of the country overseas, and asked him to do the shopping for him. Bobby transferred the money to Joey and the next morning Joey bought the beautiful piece of jewelry. Much to Joey’s surprise, immediately after the purchase, the store owner presented him with a valuable $500 gift certificate. The store was running a promotion awarding a valuable gift certificate to the first customer to walk in and make a purchase that day. Joey then informed Bobby of the gift he had received and Bobby demanded that the gift be passed on to him. After all, it was ultimately his purchase that made the gift possible. Joey resisted, explaining that the store owner had specifically presented him with the gift certificate.
Who is entitled to the $500 gift certificate, Joey or Bobby? How should Bet Din rule and why?
According to the judgment of Shulhan Aruchan unpaid courier making a purchase on behalf of another is required by law to share with his sender a gift given to him by a merchant.
The reasoning behind this decision is a matter of halachic controversy.
Some early halakhic authorities explain that since it is unclear whether the store owner intended to give a gift to the sender or the messenger, the law requires that they divide the gift among themselves.
Other early halachic authorities explain differently. Since the messenger and the sender are both entitled to the gift, they are required to divide it. Because on the one hand, if it weren’t for the sender’s money enabling the purchase, the store owner would clearly not be offering the courier. On the other hand, without the messenger’s willingness to patronize that store, the store owner would not have given the gift. Therefore, since they both participated in the transaction, they are both entitled to an equal share of the donation.
The halachic difference between these two dissenting views is where the store owner specifically says that he wishes to offer the messenger only.
According to the first opinion, it is no longer clear to whom the trader wishes to offer. Therefore, according to this view, the messenger is the only receiver. However, according to the latter view, even if the store owner emphasizes that the gift is intended for the messenger, the messenger is still required to share the gift with the sender. Since the store owner would not have extended the gift without the purchase, the sender is entitled to their fifty percent share. After all, it was his money as well as the messenger’s relationship with the store owner that made the donation possible.
The above dispute, along with the halachic difference between dissenting opinions, applies to cases in which a store owner offers a messenger for personal gain. If, however, the gift given is directly related to the money spent on the purchase, then it stands to reason that even the first view would agree that the sender is still entitled to their fifty percent share of the gift. Thus, in the event that the store policy grants a promotional gift to the first purchase of the day, all opinions agree that the gift is to be shared.
It is important to note that according to both views, if the store owner expresses that his intention is to only give a gift to the sender, then the gift belongs only to the sender. Once the Store Owner disclaims any affiliation or relationship with the messenger, the gift is awarded to the sender who spent the money to earn the gift.
Therefore, if one sends a courier to purchase an item from a pharmacy and a “buy one, get one free” sale is available, the second free item is the property of the sender. A pharmacy or any other commercial establishment has no relationship with the courier. Thus, they are clearly giving a gift to the sender, who spends their money on the first product.
Verdict: sharing is caring
Our Bet Din has ruled that Bobby and Joey, under the rule of Shulhan Aruch, had to divide the gift certificate into equal parts. As explained in the Torah Law section of this article, many halachic authorities state that even if a shop owner later asserts that the gift is for the messenger only, nonetheless, the gift should be shared equally. with the sender who paid for the purchase. In this case, store policy awarded the certificate to the first purchase of the day. In such a case, where the promotional gift is directly linked to the purchase, all opinions agree that the gift is to be shared. Although in the case of a “buy one, get one free” sale, the second free item clearly belongs only to the sender who spent the money, our case is different. The store owner who presented Joey with the certificate claims the prize is for him. Also, Bobby was overseas and couldn’t get into the store that morning and needed Joey’s presence to allow the gift. Bobby is entitled to half the value of the certificate, however, because without his money making the purchase, the gift certificate would never have been awarded.
YOU BE THE JUDGE
David has rented a house from Steven for ten months, with the rental agreement expiring on June 30, 2022. Although David was planning an overseas trip in early June, he nevertheless, in accordance with his contractual obligation, sent Steven full payment. for the month of June. David moved all his belongings out of the house and returned the keys to Steven on June 7e, before going overseas with his family. While abroad, David immediately realized that he had forgotten to empty the safe in the master bedroom before he left. He contacted his brother and gave him the back door code to enter and retrieve his valuables from the safe. As soon as his brother entered the house, he was confronted with a whole family living there. The brother contacted Steven, the owner, and he arranged for the safe to be emptied and its contents returned. However, David was infuriated that Steven, without his consent, rented the house to another family before June 30. At Bet Din, David demanded that Steven transfer all income from new tenants to him. David explained that since he rented and paid for the house until June 30, he is the rightful owner and is entitled to the income. Steven replied that as a landlord he had the right to rent the vacant unit, especially after David returned the keys to him. Additionally, Steven explained that he was renting out his house for the summer at a hefty monthly rate and clearly had no intention of passing his income on to David. David responded by threatening that either the summer tenants would vacate the property until July 1 or all proceeds from the three-week period would be paid to him.
How should Bet Din rule and why?