Ethics

For the week ending 5 December 2009 / 17 Kislev 5770

The Bicycle Exchange

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: My neighbor's son took a liking to my son's bicycle and drove his father crazy that he must have a similar bike. This neighbor bought his son a much better bike than that of my son but this did not satisfy him. One day while my family was out the frustrated neighbor took my son's bike and replaced it with the superior one he had purchased for his son. Upon discovering the switch my son demanded that his old bike be returned, while the neighbor argued that since he gave him a better bike, there was no need for him to return the old one. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: In his book "Pure Money", Dayan Shlomo Cohen, a rabbinical judge in Jerusalem, rules that since an old bike may be preferred by its owner to a new one, it is not certain that the exchange was beneficial to your son. Your neighbor was therefore unconsciously guilty of theft and must return the old bike to your son.

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