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Beit Midrash Series P'ninat Mishpat

based on ruling 76111 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts

Chapter 562

Paying Community Taxes – part II

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Case: The plaintiff (=pl) is an aguda (association) that developed in 2015 from a kibbutz association, which had built an expansion for non-kibbutz members. The defendants (=def) bought a home in the expansion before 2015 and signed the standard forms obligating themselves to the rules, including paying local taxes/fees. The main claim is about outstanding payments that def is claimed to owe pl. Def’s main responses are: they should not be bound by the agreement to pl because several of its provisions are mekape’ach (unfair or discriminatory); they are not members of pl; and they paid in an alternative manner. They also countersued for being overcharged and having deserved benefits withheld. [We will specify these and other claims as we go.]
P'ninat Mishpat (604)
Beit Din Eretz Hemda - Gazit
561 - Paying Community Taxes – part I
562 - Paying Community Taxes – part II
563 - Paying Community Taxes – part III
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Ruling: Def claim that in response to a charge of 6,000 shekels for public works projects, they requested and carried out to instead give a 9,000 shekels donation (from their tzedaka account) to the local shul, which is one such project. Pl points out that one of their officials received this request and brought it to the full board, who rejected the idea, and def was told of the decision. Def argues that this was an improper decision, considering that one can "force someone to not do like the people of Sodom," as here pl gained money, and why should they deprive def of getting pl the money for a public need through their tzedaka account? Beit din rejects def’s claim. Whether the board’s decision was ideal or not is not the point, as they made a reasonable decision that payment is made to the proper source and not that everyone can give their payments to whatever they want to in the community.

As the disagreement between the sides heightened, def had reserved the social hall for a bat mitzva, as members in good standing are entitled. Soon before the event, def was informed that because they did not pay dues, they could not use it. Def is countersuing for 6,000 shekels for having caused them to frantically look for a new location, including emotional distress, or for seven members of the board to apologize. Beit din determines that while pl had the right to withhold use of the hall, they did not have a right to inform def at the last moment. Therefore, we will require an apology in writing, using a text we are including.

In order to enable the bat mitzva to take place, def promised that they would pay their debt, but now they refuse and say that they did not mean that which they promised because it was done under pressure. Beit din finds that the promise was binding, as the pressure here was not physical but situational pressure and because that which they were being asked to do was something that all members of the community did. The phenomenon of promising something in order to get what one wants and, after receiving it, reneging on the promise is something to be criticized.
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