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Shabbat Parashat Vaetchanan 5777

P'ninat Mishpat: Unfulfilled Raffle Prize part III

(based on ruling 76024 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts)

Case: The plaintiff (=pl) spent 2,050 shekels on raffle tickets sold by an institution (=def); the first prize was a furnished four-room apartment. The drawing was held in Feb. 2012, and pl won the first prize and was supposed to receive the apartment within six months. However, the apartment was part of a property owned jointly by def and Reuven. They needed to have a redrawing of the property approved and then build an extra room. Due to a dispute between def and Reuven regarding stairs leading to the apartment, municipal permission def received was not usable, and, as of 2015, the apartment is still not completed or transferred to pl’s name. Pl demands that def transfer ownership to him and either build another room and provide furniture or pay their costs. Def responds that they are bound only to the raffle’s takanon (regulations), written before the drawing. Accordingly, if they are unable to complete building the apartment, they need to pay the raffle winner the amount of money they spent on the apartment or perhaps sell their portion of the property and give pl the proceeds after subtracting expenses.  


Ruling: [We have seen that the pertinent sub-paragraph of the takanon is 5A.]

According to par. 5A, def is to transfer ownership of the apartment to pl, build an extra room refurbish the apartment, and provide furnishings. To what extent is this halachically enforceable, and how should these obligations be implemented?

Transferring ownership to pl – The Netivot Hamishpat 39:17 rules that if one obligated himself to sell an object in his possession, he can be forced to carry that out, even though no kinyan took effect on the object yet and he was capable of selling it to a third party. Therefore, def should have to transfer ownership to pl. On the other hand, the takanon states that transfer of ownership will not take place until the apartment’s status is changed and the renovations are complete.

In theory, then, def could just compensate pl. However, def does not have money and would have to sell the apartment in order to pay. Therefore, it is much more logical to just give the apartment to pl since he wants it as is. Actually, the proper reading of the provision is that until the changes are made, pl still does not own the apartment, but it does not mean that def can decide to not build it and then not give it. That would be against the whole spirit of the raffle offering. Therefore, pl can demand ownership of the apartment as is.

Building and refurbishing – While pl cannot be forced to build, monetary steps are taken against one who promised to work and backed out. The Shach (CM 333:21) and S’ma (333:16) disagree as to whether money can be taken from the worker beyond withholding that which was already earned on the job. In this case, though, there was never supposed to be payment for the building, and so according to the minimalist approach, the obligation would be meaningless. Therefore, def has to pay the price of the construction or have it done themselves.

Providing furnishings – While one cannot sell something that is not in his possession (i.e., the furnishings), one can obligate himself with a kinyan to provide such matters (Shulchan Aruch, CM 60:6). While we cannot force def to provide them, they are obligated to pay the value of the envisioned furnishings.
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