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Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach 5779

P'ninat Mishpat: Enforcing Security Responsibilities

(based on ruling 77077 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts

Case: The plaintiff (=pl) owns a business that operates in an industrial zone adjacent to a yishuv (=def). Because the army does not provide all of the necessary security, def accepted upon itself to include the business in their patrols and overall responsibility. For more than a year, def’s Ravshatz (officer in charge of internal security) was lax in implementing this responsibility despite pl’s requests. This is especially true on Shabbat, when guardsmen sometimes limit their efforts out of concern of violating Shabbat. Pl is suing to have clear security guidelines, which must be carried out, written up. Pl also demands 1000 shekels for legal expenses, as this adjudication should not have been necessary. Def does not argue the facts presented by pl and is willing, with beit din’s help, to arrive at a memorandum that spells out guidelines for their responsibilities looking forward.


Ruling: Beit din determines that def does have a natural obligation to provide security for pl. The gemara (Bava Batra 7b-8a) rules that the members of a city are obligated to contribute to the security of other members and that a minority can even force a majority to do so (see Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 163:1). In the State of Israel, the army/police are responsible for security. However, when they do not provide all of the necessary security, the responsibility returns to the local community. This applies both to the residential population and to the businesses that fall under its general jurisdiction.

The Ravshatz, an employee of def, is the one who is obligated to carry out this responsibility. Def’s security council, with pl’s participation, will determine what physical provisions (e.g., cameras, road access) need to be provided. Their findings will be binding and must be implemented. Regarding patrolling, members of the civilian patrol will make two visits to the site every night. This should be written so that members of the community should not think that doing so is just a favor for pl. Def will be responsible for opening and closing the gate that accesses pl. Pl’s alarm system should be hooked up to the Ravshatz, so that he can respond if there is infiltration.

As a new Ravshatz is being chosen, candidates should be made aware of these decisions, and their readiness to carry them out must be a condition for their appointment. The rabbi of the yishuv is to make a ruling about the type of steps that should be taken on Shabbat.

In their claim sheet, pl demanded payment from def for their past laxness, but they did not repeat this during the hearing. The latter is appropriate because payment would be for damages, and there has been no indication that there have been damages (time spent by pl is not considered damage). Since both sides acted responsibly during the adjudication, there will be no reimbursement for time spent (see Shut HaRivash 475)

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