Dec 25, 2007

interesting psak from Rav Steinman

This week's interesting psak (even though I have missed posting the feature some weeks) is from Rav Steinman.

The Mishpacha reported that yeshiva students have had a dilemma as to the price of a bus ticket. Egged has different rates for minors (under 18), adults (above 18) and students. The yeshiva boys are not officially recognized as students and therefore do not enjoy the discounted price on bus tickets available to students.

Many yeshiva boys felt this was discriminatory and unfair and have considered the option of buying tickets at the lower student rate without the approval of Egged management. The dilemma was whether they have a right to decide on their own that it is discriminatory and go buy discounted tickets without Egged's approval (or the Ministry of Transportation who ultimately makes this decision), or would that be called theft.

A group first approached Rav Chaim Kanievsky. Rav Kanievsky sent them on to Rav Steinman with instructions that whatever he answers is what they should do.

Rav Steinman weighed the question and clarified the various issues involved. His decision was that because Egged and the Ministry of Transportation have an active decision, even if unfair, to not give the students status and the discounts to yeshiva students, rather than it being a mistake or an anomaly they were not aware of that they would fix as soon as they found out (i.e. that all these students do not have student status), the boys would not be allowed to make such a decision on their own.

Rav Steinman said, "If the Ministry of Transportation is not willing to give the yeshiva boys the discount, an older yeshiva student using such a discounted ticket would be considered taking without permission (i.e. theft)."

Seems kind of obvious to me, but I guess once you involve political decisions it raises questions of fairness and taking the law and decision making into your own hands. These kinds of problems usually arise when we try to figure out the logic behind any specific law and then try to apply the logic equally to other situations that were not included in the law. The real action to be taken would be for the Haredi politicians to pressure the Ministry of Transportation to apply the discounts equally to yeshiva students as well.


  1. There is some logic to denying this discount to yeshiva students. As a group, people with a college education have more earning power, and therefore contributes more (financially) to the country. Therefore, there is some economic sense in giving someone from the group a financial break.

    Before people get all upset, I'm not making a value call, i.e., I'm not saying that the financial contribution to the country is more important that the spiritual one made by yeshiva students (as a group). But the Egged rate gives money to a group which is going to return that money, while giving this money to yeshiva students does not have the same in-kind return.

  2. IMHO, although I understand what you're trying to convey, there's NO logic in denying the discount to yeshiva students. I don't think it has to do with earning power.

    It's plain and simple discrimination.

  3. I understand your point as well, yoni, but I think it is wrong to discriminate in this fashion.


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