[Avodah] Hasagat Gevul of a bus company

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Tue Jan 8 10:10:35 PST 2013

On Tue, Jan 08, 2013 at 09:35:30AM -0500, T613K at aol.com wrote:
: I remember the famous story of the Chofetz Chaim, who supposedly tore up a  
: postage stamp when he gave a letter to someone to deliver personally -- so 
: that  the government wouldn't lose the money it was "owed."  I never 
: understood  that story because if you didn't use the government's service, why
: should you  have to pay the government anyway?  Is sending a letter with a 
: friend some  kind of hasagas gevul issue vis-a-vis the United States postal 
: service?  I  don't see it. 

R' Menashe Klein (Mishnah Halakhos 6:288) holds that

1- When you get a letter where the stamp was not canceled, two
dinim are involved:
a- hashavas aveidas nachri, which is only mutar when it's a qiddush
   hasheim, and only mandatory to avoid a chilul hasheim.

   (Whether hashavas aveidas nachri without any element of qiddush
   hasheim is actually assur WRT people who keep the 7 mitzvos is a
   different topic. RMK isn't known for his universalist / humanist
   leanings WRT pesaq.)

b- Because the post office is part of the gov't, dina demalkhus applies.
   So in RMK's case, one is porhibited from reusing the stamp.

2- In that teshuvah, RMK opines that tearing up the stamp isn't iqar hadin,
   and the CC must have been acting specifically in order to create a
   qiddush Hashem rather than anything related to Choshein Mishpat.

BTW, R' Dr A J Twerski tells the story with a different protagonist in
Growing Each Day (relevant excerpt at
    I once brought a letter to my grandfather which my father had
    intended t mail to him. My grandfather opened up his desk drawer
    and tore up a postage stamp saying, "We have no right to withhold
    revenue from the postal service that is due to them." To a person for
    whom pennies (and postage was three cents back then) are negligible,
    misappropriation of thousands of dollars may also be feasible.

So R/D AJT's grandather thought the CC's example was one worth emulating.
But notice the difference in rationale that he attributes to it compared
to RMK. RMK made it about qiddush hasheim, R' Twerski made the issue one
of practicing proper middos.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Man is capable of changing the world for the
micha at aishdas.org        better if possible, and of changing himself for
http://www.aishdas.org   the better if necessary.
Fax: (270) 514-1507            - Victor Frankl, Man's search for Meaning

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