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Nov 22, 2012

Interesting Psak: Riding For "Free" and Pay Later

Egged has had the policy for a long time of letting passengers on to the first bus after Shabbos, from the Kotel, despite not having money to pay.

Egged knows that many people walk to the Kotel on Shabbos, and obviously they are not carrying any money. The only way for them to get home would be to either walk, or via Egged - but they don't have money to pay for the ticket. So, Egged has been good about that and let's people get on the first bus after Shabbos, despite not having money.

It was never considered, by Egged, to be an ideal situation. Egged can't really know if people do or do not eventually pay for those rides, but giving free rides to lots of people is not really included in their business model.

According to Mynet, a number of Shabbos parsha papers have recently been discussing the topic of whether one can carry the new rav kav, the smart card, cards on Shabbos or if they are muktzeh like money.

I don't know why they would be any different than the old-fashioned kartisiyot, the bus tickets that would get punched with holes for rides, but it seems a number of poskim say that one is allowed to carry these rav kavs on Shabbos. Rav Baruch Efrati says it is allowed.

This would give Egged the ability to say that they no longer offer "free" rides, and that people should carry their rav kavs with them if they plan to take the bus home after Shabbos.

Interestingly, on a related topic, there has been a problem, commonly enough with CityPass, the operators of the Jerusalem Light-Rail. Many times the machines to buy tickets are not working at any given station. Either they don't work at all, or they don't give change and demand exact change for payment, and sometimes the credit card reader isnt working. Some people take the risk and get on the train anyway, and plan to pay later for the ride. After all, it is not their fault, but they need to use the public transportation. The article quotes a rav who is against riding the train in such a situation. Rav Erez Malca says that if the cash register in a store was not working, you would not just take your stuff and leave. Therefore, he says, getting on the train in this situation is also stealing. If CityPass would allow it, that would be fine, but City Pass explicitly says that boarding the train is not allowed under these circumstances, and therefore doing so would be theft.

I have not looked into the halacha, and I therefore offer no opinion on whether it should be considered muktzeh or not. I do wish to comment on Egged's expectations from this. According to the article's introduction, this psak is meant to satisfy the haredi community - specifically them, but also all religious people, because it seems they are the bulk of the passengers who use Egged in this fashion after Shabbos.

My comment on this is that Rav Baruch Efrati might be a great man and a great posek, but he is not one followed by the haredi community. I would even be willing to bet that most people in the haredi community have not heard of him. With all due respect to Rav Efrati, if Egged is expecting the haredi community to start carrying their rav kavs on Shabbos, they should have also gone to haredi poskim, and probably even the gedolim (because this is a question of chilul Shabbos), to make such a determination.

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  1. Believe it or not, in other cities automated ticket machines sometimes malfunction, and yes, I have missed trains because of this. If the machines never work and are constantly out of service, that's a different problem.

    1. it happened to me on the light rail recently. the machine at the station I needed to be at wa sonly accepting a limited type of coin, that I didnt have on me, and wouldnt give change or accept larger denominations. It also would not process my credit card. Eventually I figured out to go to the station on the other side of the tracks and everything worked there just fine and I bought my ticket and crossed back to get on the train.

  2. Interesting post.

    Why wouldn't taking a Rav Kav to the Kotel on Shabbos afternoon to be able to use it for the bus on Motzee Shabbos an issue of 'hachana' (preparing on Shabbos for after Shabbos).

    Granted, 'hachana' is an issue d'rabbanan (I believe) and theft is a de'oraisa. Even so, I'm not sure that it is accepted practice to permit l'chatchila the violation of a d'rabbanan to prevent an avoidable violation of a de'oraisa.

  3. i agree with gedman's question.

    rav efrati is known in the chareidi community. he was close to rav elyashiv. plus there were lots of wall posters in meah sharim putting him cherem for his orlah psak.

    1. Ben - whats the orlah psak he was condemned for?

      I suspect you are confusing two different people. This Rav Baruch Efrati that was quoted in regards to the psak about rav kav is a dati leumi posek and rosh yeshiva (in the yeshvat hesder of Efrat, and maybe other places).
      Rav Yosef Efrati was very close to Rav Elyashiv for a very long time and has his own kollel/institution specializing in the halachos of ariculture

  4. Why should Egged have to "ask" anyone,till now no one complained when they let people on for free.If you don't want to accept the psak that is fine,just walk home instead.

    1. Egged runs the service for whatever reason they choose to. maybe they are pressured to be considerate to all these people who have no way home. Egged asked a question so they could say that with the new system you can pay and it has no chilul shabbos involved.

  5. If the Charedim have an issue, and Egged requires payment, the Charedim will have to arrange for someone from their community to come to the kotel after shabbos to distribute bus money to everyone waiting there to get home. A kind of gemilus autobusim program. Egged is not a government company anymore, it's a [semi]private business. It is very nice of them to have provided free motzai shabbos service for all these years, I even used it a few times over the years.

  6. " Rav Erez Malca says that if the cash register in a store was not working, you would not just take your stuff and leave. Therefore, he says, getting on the train in this situation is also stealing"

    I'm not a posek, but I think his logic his outright dumb. If a cash register fails, I can go to a different store. City pass on the other hand, has a legal monopoly on the premise that they will provide all residents with transportation services.

    If they don't hold their side of the deal, neither do we have to. If they can't figure out how to sell me a ticket within 5 minutes of a train coming, they don't deserve to get paid at that time. I'll pay when I get off the train. Ticketing machines are always broken, or they only accept certain denominations, or the line is down the block on all the working machines etc. That's all citypass' problem, and they have to solve it. They will provide me with transportation no matter what.

    Egged understands this, as experienced by me a few times. When the ticketing machine on the bus is broken, they let me get on and pay later, instead of just driving off. It is after all, their responsibility.

  7. In regards to Muktze and Hachana, I fail to see why either issue would be permitted in this scenario. The Rav Kav should simply be Muktze Machmas Issur, and it seems pretty straight forward to me that it's classic case of hachana over here.

  8. After considering this topic more closely over Shabbos, I may have an answer to why carrying the Rav Kav on Shabbos should not be prohibited as an issue of hachana.

    Hachana is prohibited when the action being planned is itself prohibited on Shabbos. So, I could make a plan with my chevrusa on Shabbos to learn after Shabbos. However, I could not plan on Shabbos to drive my chevrusa to the airport after Shabbos.

    Riding as a passenger on a bus during Shabbos is an issur d'rabbanan (assuming that the passenger won't travel beyond the techum on the bus). Therefore, planning on Shabbos to ride the bus after Shabbos is hachana for an issur d'rabbaban - which is certainly no worse than actually violating an issur d'rabbanan on Shabbos.

    Since 1) hachana itself is categorically an issur d'rabbanan; and 2) the hachana is to perform an action which would be an issur d'rabbanan if performed on Shabbos, therefore we have a case of "shevus d'shevus" which could be permitted to avoid a safek d'oraisa of theft (and might even be permitted l'chatchila).


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