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Good News from Eretz Hemdah Tishrei 5778
The Eretz Hemdah–Gazit Beit Din: If you lag you are in trouble
Beit Shemesh branch of the Eretz Hemdah Beit Din. Av Beit Din, Harav Eliezer Shenkolofsky:
The plaintiffs purchased a home from the defendants. According to their agreement, the purchasers were required to pay approximately 500,000 shekels over three payments. In actuality, the first two payments were made on time, while the third and most important payment was delayed. At that point, the sellers informed the buyers that the sale was null and void due to the violation of the terms of the agreement. The buyers claimed that the sale should continue despite the late payment.
How should one relate to an erroneous payment plan?
One of the questions that the Beit Din dealt with is how one should interpret a payment plan that is conspicuously erroneous. The dates for the different payments that were listed in the contract were unreasonable and erroneous. The date listed on the contract was about a month earlier than the actual date of the signing of the contract, and the payment dates listed were before the date of the signing of the contract.
The Beit Din concluded that one should try to approximate the intentions of the two sides and to adjust the payment dates accordingly. The contract called for a payment to take place two weeks after the signing of the contract, and, since the contract was signed about a month after the stated date, the payment should similarly be pushed off for the same amount of time. Since the payment was not made even within this window of time, the Beit Din decided that the purchasers violated the terms of the contract, and the sellers therefore were justified in cancelling the sale.
One of the sources that this decision was based on was the following discussion of the Mabit in regards to a situation that arose in Tzefat about 400 years ago (Shut Mabit volume 2, Siman 131).
A messenger of a Get who delayed bringing the Get
Someone appointed a messenger to deliver a Get to his wife, and he commanded the messenger to state, at the time of the delivery of the Get, that the Get will take effect only if the husband does not return within two years. The woman agreed to accept the Get only after three years. The leading rabbis disagreed regarding the status of such a Get: According to the Mabit, the messenger cannot give the Get, since it is impossible to give it with the condition that the husband made. According to the Radvaz though, one may give the Get, and the messenger can simply make a condition that the Get is being given on condition that the husband doesn’t return for the following two years. According to Rav Yosef Karo, one may give the Get without any conditions, since the two years that the husband stipulated about had already passed. Practically, the Beit Din ruled that the Get should be given twice, once on condition that the husband doesn’t return for the following two years (like the Radvaz), and it should then be given again without any conditions (like Rav Yosef Karo). In this way, the majority opinion, that permitted giving the Get, was followed, but it was also given in such a way that was acceptable to the majority of opinions.
To summarize, the Beit Din decided that, even after adjusting the dates of the payment, the purchasers were still late in their payment, and the sellers are therefore permitted to cancel the sale.
For the full ruling, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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