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Just Fine? - question and Answer Beshalach

Written by , 17/1/2019

 Just Fine?

Avi looked down at the clock next to the dashboard. 1:57. Late again he grumbled to himself. Why do I always do this?!

He had barely three minutes to park his car, run to the elevator, and be at his desk, before his customer would arrive. The problem was that there didnt seem to be any parking spaces near his office. Out of the corner of his eye, Avi noticed a space. It was too good to be true! Yet, there it was, a perfectly illegal spot. Avi sighed. He pulled into the spot, ripped the key out of the ignition, and ran up to his office.

About a half hour later, Avis coworker Nissim headed outside to buy something to eat. Much to Nissims consternation, there was a policeman right next to Avis car, eyeing it with interest. The policeman took a pen, glanced at Avis license plate, and was about to begin writing, when Nissim called out oh, officer, I was just about to move my car. I had to run in to a store for a minute, but thats no reason to give me a ticket, is it?

The policeman wasnt convinced, but Nissim didnt give up. After a few minutes, the policeman said make sure not to do that again, shrugged his shoulder, and walked away.

Once the policeman was out of sight, Nissim entered a local eatery, and ordered lunch. After a satisfying meal, Nissim sauntered back out into daylight, only to see his local friendly policeman, looking not so friendly.

You! called out the policeman. What kind of chutzpa is this? You say that I shouldnt ticket you, because youre about to move the car, and now I see that the car is still there! Im giving you the original fine, plus another three hundred shekel! With that, the policeman wrote out the ticket, stuffed it into Avis windshield, and walked off.

When Avi finished his meeting, Nissim apprised him of the situation. Im really sorry, Avi, but now you have to pay a really big fine.

Me?! spluttered Avi. What big fine? Ill pay the original fine, and you have to pay the three hundred shekel for that ridiculous stunt you just pulled off.

Why should I pay? retorted Nissim. I was only doing it for you! I had no idea this would backfire.

Who is correct? Does Nissim or Avi have to pay the extra three hundred shekel?

Answer of Rabbi Dov Lior, shlita:

Nissim is obligated to pay the additional fine, for Avi. This is because Nissim was the one who caused the policeman to increase the fine, and, therefore, according to dina dmalchuta (the law of the ruling government, which a Jew is obligated to follow, unless it conflicts with Torah law), it is Nissim who is obligated to pay. This is despite the fact that the policeman was under the impression that it was Nissim who was the owner of the car, and gave the car owner the added fine, because the real intention of the policeman was to ticket Nissim, himself.

(Further explanation: One might object to the above conclusion, with the argument that the damage which Nissim caused Avi was done indirectly, because there was no guarantee that Nissims actions would cause a loss to Avi. However, even though an earthly court cannot hold an offender liable for indirect damage, the offender is held liable in the Heavenly court. In addition, in our case, Nissim is liable even according to earthly court, because of the laws of dina dmalchuta, as stated above.)

(Regarding dina dmalchuta in Israel see Tztitz Eliezer)


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