Paying On Time


By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

The posuk in this week’s Parsha teaches us that one should pay the wages of his worker on the day of his work since he supports himself by doing this work. Chazal in Bava Metziya learn from this posuk that if one finishes his work in the daytime, he has to be paid before sunrise. The worker may come and collect the wages during the night. When one finishes working during the night, he may collect wages the entire day, until shkiya.

Reb Yitzchok Zilbershtein brings an interesting question in Chashukei Chemed. Reb Aryeh Pommeranchik zt”l was at the dentist. Upon the dental work being completed, Reb Aryeh turned to the dentist and said, “I don’t have any money on me.” He then asked for a loan with two witnesses present. The dentist gave him money as a loan. Reb Aryeh then gave the money to the dentist and said, “Here is payment for your treatment of my teeth.” I will repay the loan that I borrowed from you at a later date.

An interesting question can be posed in relation to the above anecdote. If the above scenario would take place on Chol HaMoed and the patient would not have money to pay; in addition, there wouldn’t be any witnesses, would one be able to write a shtar for the transaction? Would it be better not to pay on time, provided that the vendor agrees, to avoid writing on Chol HaMoed?

Reb Yitzchok Zilbershtein said that it would seem that it would be permitted to write the document on Chol Hamoed because it should be considered a davar ha’avud.” This would be so because without writing the document you would lose out on the mitzvah of paying your vendor on time.

Reb Yitzchok said that upon presenting this question to his father-in-law, Reb Elyashiv zt”l disagreed and said it would be better not to borrow the money. His reasoning was that many poskim hold that writing on Chol HaMoed is an issur De’Oraysa as seen in Mishna Berura, siman taf kuf lamed, seif koton alef. The reason for being meikil on a davar ha’avud is because the Torah gave the Chachamim koach to ascertain what melachos can be done. One should not be meikil any more than Chazal were meikil.

In Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, siman shin lamed tes, seif yud it says that one is not oveir on the issur of holding back money unless the vendor is asking for it. In the above scenario, since the vendor is okay with you not paying immediately, one should therefore not write a shtar.

There was an electrician who was working at the home of Reb Elyashiv zt”l for a few days. On a daily basis Reb Elyashiv tried paying the electrician, but every day the electrician kept on saying, “I’m not finished!”

The day that the electrician finished was the day when Rebbetzin Zilbershtein, the daughter of Reb Elyashiv, was nifteres. One of the grandchildren came into Reb Elyashiv ten minutes after he heard the bitter news and Reb Elyashiv instructed him to summon the electrician as he finished his work. The electrician’s response was, “At such a time I can’t accept the money.” Reb Elyashiv in turn said, “I can’t go to the levaya unless you take the money.” Reb Elyashiv wanted to pay for the work on the day the work was finished and Reb Elyashiv held that one may not pay debts in aveilus since it might make the avel happy. He therefore needed to pay the electrician before the levaya.

The chashivus of paying on time could not be depicted in a clearer fashion that from observing our gedolim.

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