Religion Magazine

Interesting Psak: Possession is Nine Tenths of the Law

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Kikar has an interesting story that has been hotly debated in the Mir Yeshiva and has finally come to an end with a final psak.
The story is that 4 young men were sitting in their dorm room, in one of the yeshiva dormitory buildings. The fellow sitting on an upholstered chair felt unstable and flipped the chair over to adjust it and make it better. When he flipped it over, a pile of thousands of dollars fell out of the bottom of the chair. The chair itself had been salvaged from a nearby garbage can a couple of years prior by one of the young men.
When the young men got over their initial shock, the one who turned the chair over grabbed a 100 dollar bill, but one of the other guys in the room jumped at it and grabbed the rest of the pile of money.
That is when the argument began as to who gets to keep the money. Arguments were presented by the various parties involved, each supporting why he specifically deserves the money.
- The fellow who had taken the chair in from the garbage years prior claimed it as his, as it was in his chair - even though he is married and no longer lives in the room, he still goes to the room daily to rest and put his stuff own and makes use of it.
 - An argument was presented that it should be divided among all the roommates, as they all acquired it together via a "kinyan chatzer".
 - The one who grabbed the money first claimed it as his, even though he is not even one of the roommates of that room and was just visiting in the room at the time - he argues that he claimed the money from hefker.
The young men went to a local beis din led by Rav Yitzchak Eizik Silver to plead their cases. Rabbi Silver paskened that being that there are different opinions with regards to each of the arguments presented, at the end of the day the young man who grabbed the money first already has a strong claim on it, by possession, and the other arguments are not strong enough to be able to take it away from the one holding the money.
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