Who Gets the Prize?
Question: I recently bought a few raffle tickets for the lottery of a charitable organization. Some time later I met a friend whom I invited to share in this mitzvah by buying one of the raffle tickets from me. His raffle ticket turned out to be the winner of the grand prize of an expensive automobile. Upon investigation I discovered that the drawing of the winning raffle ticket had taken place before I had sold it to my friend so that the sale was made on a mistaken premise since I never would have sold a raffle ticket that won such a prize. What do our authorities say about a case like this?
Answer: A somewhat similar case is found in the Talmud (Ketubot 97a). In the Babylonian city of
Although this Talmudic ruling would seem to indicate that the sale of the winning raffle ticket was null and void, it should be noted that a case exactly like yours once came before one of the great halachic authorities of a previous generation, Rabbi Shalom Mordechai Schwadron, the rav of the European community of Brezhan. He distinguished between the case in the Talmud and the one of the raffle ticket. There was no way that the people who sold their homes could have become aware of the imminent arrival of the grain-bearing ships, and the sale was therefore made on false premises. In the case of the raffle ticket, however, it was very possible for the seller to find out if his raffle ticket won the prize before selling it and if he failed to do so it was an indication that he was selling the raffle ticket under all circumstances so that the sale was a valid one.