For the week ending 9 February 2013 / 28 Shevat 5773

A Promise for Partnership

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: I promised a friend of mine to form a chavruta partnership for learning Daf Yomi together. In the meantime a more suitable partner approached me. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: A similar question was presented to Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, the rav of the Ramat Elchanan community in Bnei Brak, who laid down the following guidelines:

  1. If your friend did not seek another partner because he was relying on you and will remain without any partner if you desert him, it would be considered a lack of faithfulness for you to abandon him. Some support for this can be found in the gemara (Mesechta Kiddushin 45) which states that a Jew is not suspected of backing out of his promise because the Prophet Tzefania describes the Jewish people as ones who keep their word.
  2. Should your intention to abandon the partner you planned to study with be based on a discovery that there are substantial problems with being his chavruta, your promise was then based on an error and is not binding in any way.
  3. If the learning partner you now wish to join is not merely preferable to the first, but one who is an outstanding scholar offering a rare opportunity for your growth, there are grounds for going with him since anyone in such a situation would do the same.

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