Adam Gerling of Albany checks his Mega Millions tickets at Edleez Tobacco in Stuyvesant Plaza Tuesday Oct. 23, 2018 in Albany, NY. (John Carl D'Annibale/Times Union)
Adam Gerling of Albany checks his Mega Millions tickets at Edleez Tobacco in Stuyvesant Plaza Tuesday Oct. 23, 2018 in Albany, NY. (John Carl D’Annibale/Times Union)


by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Sfas Tamim Foundation

Reuvain and Shimon, decided to purchase two lottery tickets together and pool their winnings.  They reasoned that since the Gemorah says that the Mazel of two is greater than one (Bava Metzia 105a) they had a greater chance of winning.  As it turned out, one of them did win.  Reuvain called his friend on the phone and said, “Shimon!  The numbers that you chose were the winning ones and you won a half million New Israeli Shekels!  You do remember our agreement, right? And you will still honor it, right?”

Shimon responded, “Look Reuvain, we spoke, but by no means was this an agreement.  I will give you something, say 5000 – but not a half million NIS.”

Reuvain responded, “Oh my, it is quite clear that you had never intended from the beginning to keep your end of the bargain. Since that is the case, I will not keep my end of the bargain either.  It was not your numbers that won the lottery.  It was my numbers, Shimon!  I won.  You did not. Goodbye, my “friend!”

The question is whether Reuvain is justified in not keeping his side of the agreement.  As far as the halacha in this case, we find the following ideas.  In the work entitled, “Zichru Eliyahu Moshe” by Rav Yechiel Michel Stern Shlita (p.98), the following ruling is cited: The Gemorah in Bava Basra 106b concludes that when brothers divide their father’s estate between them by lottery to determine which brother is to receive which portion, once the lot for one of them is drawn, they all acquire the remainder of the property, and they can no longer retract their decision to divide the estate in this manner. Rav Ashi explains that the satisfaction that each brother receives from the fact that they agreed to accept the results of the lottery, they fully transfer ownership to each other.

Rav Stern notes that the Rashbam (ibid) explains that this is the case with partners as well.  It is also the case with un-landed or moveable properties. Thus, it would seem that in our case, Reuvain had agreed to the terms initially and it was fully binding.  He may not use “Shimon’s reaction” as an excuse to exempt himself.


In the early 1980’s, life for an observant jew who was a lawyer was a little bit different than it is now.  Back then, it was not the norm for a lawyer to wear a Yarmulkah in the office.  Indeed, very few even wore a Yarmulkah in law school.

There was one particular student who did wear his Yarmulkah in law school.  He graduated and was now on his way to a job interview at a prestigious law firm in Manhattan. As he exited the subway, he debated with himself whether he should wear his yarmulkah during his interview. Ultimately, he decided to remove it.

He entered the law office and was soon called in for the interview with the founder of the firm.  Toward the end of the interview, the founder told him, “The main reason that I granted you this interview was that after I had done my due diligence on you, I was impressed that you were a man of integrity and conviction.  through my research, i discovered that you wear a yarmulkah even though it runs against the societal norm.  However, when you exited the train this morning on your way to our interview,  I was actually walking behind you and I saw you remove your yarmulkah.  I thought you were a man of integrity and conviction, but now I am uncertain.  I do not think that you are the candidate We are looking for.”

Although this incident does not have a happy ending, it does highlight two important points.  The first is the importance of living a life of conviction.  The protagonist in our story should have stuck with his convictions and worn his yarmulkah on his job interview as he did in law school.  The second is that, when we do not stick to our convictions, aside from the fact that Hashem sees us when we compromise our convictions, you never know who else is watching – it may be the person who is about to interview you who just happened to have followed you from the subway.

As reported by VINnews