Thursday, Dec 1, 2022

Megillah 13: Losing the Lottery

On this daf, we find that Haman cast lots.

The owners of the apartment in a certain building decided to build storage rooms beneath their building, one room per apartment. Some spaces were more conveniently placed than others, and everyone naturally wished to receive the best place. How could they determine who would get which space?

The neighbors decided to cast lots to determine each person’s placement. After they did so, the person who received the worst place for his storage room changed his mind. “Why should we rely on lots anyway?” he philosophized.

The others insisted that they had agreed ahead of drawing the lots and the halacha in Shulchan Aruch is that such agreements are binding. After a little thought, the Jewish man declared that he did not believe that this was truly binding, since one of the neighbors was a non-Jew.

When this question was presented to the Imrei Yosher, he ruled that the lots were definitely binding: “The main kinyon we use to bind a non-Jew when we sell chometz is kinyan agav, which is also learned from the verse regarding Yehoshafat Hamelech. But if we take your claim seriously, then we cannot learn from a Jew to a non-Jew in this matter either.

“Although there is a dispute as to whether lots make a complete kinyon or not, this is not relevant in our times, since the custom is that casting lots acquires absolutely. I am afraid that you must accept your lot” (Shu”t Imrei Yosher).

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