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Ask the Rabbi #145

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29 March 1997; Issue #145

  • The 2,000 Dollar Question
  • Hitting Grass
  • Answer to Yiddle Riddle
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  • The 2,000 Dollar Question


    Chaim Bernfeld wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    This is a thing that happened. A friend of mine asked me to post this question on the Internet. He is in the construction business. A third person (a neighbor) found out he was on his way to a certain warehouse to pick up something so he asked him to pick up something he purchased there and bring it home to him ( I think some tiles). He gave my friend $8000 which was the agreed price for the tiles. When my friend got there (I don't exactly know why) he started bargaining and the seller agreed to give him the tiles for $6000. Question: According to halachah who gets the $2000 difference? Thank you

    Dear Chaim Bernfeld,

    I asked Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, shlita, who ruled that the two thousand dollars goes back to your friend's neighbor. The neighbor never relinquished ownership of this money; he merely entrusted it with your friend. Your friend didn't spend it on the tiles, so it goes back to his neighbor.

    Now, if things had been slightly different, your friend would have profited: If, instead of a lower price, your friend had received more tiles, the extra tiles would have been split between your friend and his neighbor.

    The difference between these cases is as follows: In the first case, the point in question is the extra money. Since the neighbor is the original owner of the extra money, and he never lost his ownership, he gets it. In the second case the point in question is the extra tiles. Neither the neighbor nor your friend is the original owner.

    So who gets the extra tiles in the second case? Although the intention of the tile-seller was probably to give them to your friend the Sages decreed that the bonus be split with his neighbor whose business transaction 'caused' the extra tiles.


    • Shailot and Teshuvot Shevet HaLevi 5:214
    • Ketubot 88b
    • Choshen Mishpat 183

    Hitting Grass


    Jaymi Victor from Italy wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    Hello! I have a question for you. The quote that I have incorporated into my signature line [text added to the end of an e-mail message - Ed.] is a quote that I have seen in a couple of different places, but I have never seen a reference back to the original source. What is the source in the Talmud or Midrash? Thanks in advance.


    Every blade of grass has an angel bending over it saying, "Grow, grow."

    Jaymi Victor

    Nebraska City, NE


    Dear Jaymi Victor,

    "Said Rabbi Simon: 'Every single blade of grass has a corresponding 'mazal' in the sky which hits it and tells it to grow." This statement is found in the Midrash Rabba, Bereshit 10:6.

    I heard from Rabbi Moshe Shapiro, shlita, that from this Midrash we see that some things need a 'hit' in order to grow.

    There's story told about Rabbi Avraham Kook, zatzal and Rabbi Aryeh Levine, zatzal. They used to study the Torah together and often they would study outside. On one occasion Rabbi Levine plucked a flower from a tree. Rabbi Kook was upset and told him that in all his days he had never plucked so much as a leaf from a tree, based on the above mentioned Midrash.

    Answer to Yiddle Riddle


    Question: What word in Hebrew is spelled "Vav Vav Vav Vav"?

    Answer: "And his hook" The Hebrew word for 'hook' is 'vav'. It is spelled with two letters: 'vav' and 'vav.' The letter 'vav' as a prefix means 'and.' The letter 'vav' as a suffix means 'his.' Hence, the word spelled 'vav vav vav vav' means 'and his hook.'

    (Riddle posed by Josh Spindell)

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