Friday, May 20, 2022

Moed Koton 26: The Donated Sefer Torah

On this daf, we find some halachos regarding a Sefer Torah.

A certain baal habayis once presented a Sefer Torah to a local shul without specifying whether this was a gift for all time or only a loan. Several years later, the man was moving from the town and wished to repossess the Sefer Torah as is customary. The question came up: Since he had not specified that he could take the Torah back whenever he wished, perhaps the kehillah had acquired it. Even a doubt regarding this issue would likely prohibit him from taking what might be shul property.

For this reason, the gabbaim of the shul refused to allow the previous owner to remove the Sefer Torah from its safe. The owner protested vehemently. They finally decided to consult with a halachic authority regarding this matter: Did the gabbaim have a right to withhold the Sefer Torah or not?

When this question was presented to the Chelkas Yaakov, he replied decisively: “They have no right to prevent him from removing the Sefer Torah. Firstly, surely the donor didn’t want to lose out on his rights of ownership of the Sefer Torah.

The Chelkas Yaakov continued: “Besides, the Magein Avrohom and the Eliyahu Rabbah both state that the custom is that a sefer left in a shul remains the owner’s property. In every community, on the first day of Sukkos, the custom is for many who don’t have an esrog to take another’s esrog and discharge their obligation. Even though the owner of the esrog doesn’t say anything to transfer ownership of the esrog to each user, since the custom is to discharge their obligation in this manner, it is as if he made a declaration. The same holds true in this case. Since the custom is to take the Sefer Torah even without asking permission, it is as if he clearly stipulated that he can take it when he wishes” (Shu”t Chelkas Yaakov).

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