Psak from Rav Elyashiv: Paying Instead Of Buckling


rav-elyashiv2By Rafi G.

In Israel the law is that every person riding in a car must be buckled up. if a policeman stops the car and finds anyone riding within not buckled, he issues a fine to the driver.

When the unbuckled rider is someone who was getting a ride, and especially if he had been told by the driver to buckle up but chose not to, common practice is generally that the unbuckled rider is the one expected to pay the fine.

I am not sure why he ever would, except for common decency, as it is the driver’s license that is recorded for the fine. The unbuckled rider can walk away and never pay the fine and only the driver would get in trouble. Of course if the rider was not a hitchhiker but a friend or family of the driver and was being given a ride with a previous relationship, then the rider would pay to avoid harming the relationship. But in a hitchhiker situation, the hitchhiker would usually be expected to pay, considering it is his fault the driver was fined, despite the fact that he really has no impetus to do so.

The Story

A fellow was driving to hear his regular shiur from Rav Elyashiv. Along the way he picked up a “trempist” – a hitchhiker who need to go somewhere along the same route. After warning the passenger to buckle up a number of times, he began driving.

As luck would have it, along the way the traffic police pulled him over. After checking his papers, the policeman issued a fine due to the unbuckled passenger. A fine to the tune of 500 NIS.

The driver told his passenger that he should take the fine and pay it, due to it being his fault it was issued. The passenger refused, saying the fine was issued to the driver rather than to him. After arguing about it for a bit, they agreed to go to Rav Elyashiv and lay it out before him, and they would act in accordance with whatever Rav Elyashiv would say.

The Psak From Rav Elyashiv

Rav Elyashiv paskened that because the law requires all passengers to buckle up, the driver is not allowed to begin driving until he ensures that all passengers are appropriately buckled. The driver is obligated to pay the fine because it is his fault he began driving before ensuring the passengers were buckled. He received the fine for that and he must pay it.

As proof to his psak that the driver, rather than the passenger, is at fault, Rav Elyashiv referenced a recent question he paskened on.

The Proof

5 people got stuck in an elevator. They came before Rav Elyashiv asking which of the 5 is obligated to pay the costs of the rescue and evacuation operation, and for repairing the elevator. The story began with four people in the elevator, and a fifth tried to jump in. The four warned him that it might be too heavy for the elevator and warned him that it might get stuck. he insisted and went into the elevator.

The four of them wanted the fifth fellow to pay the bill, as they claimed it was his fault the elevator got stuck. The fifth fellow claimed it was not his fault as it was a combined effort and the bill should be divided equally among all of them.

Rav Elyashiv heard the story and paskened that whichever one of them pushed the button to activate the elevator is the one obligated to pay the bill. he is the one who caused the elevator to get stuck.

As an aside, I wonder what would be the psak if the fellow had pushed the button and then the fifth guy jumped in catching the door at the last moment. I would guess, based on Rav Elyashiv’s psak, that in this situation he would probably say the fifth fellow would be at fault and would need to pay.

Comparing the cases therefore one comes to the conclusion that in the case of the driver and passenger, it is the driver who is at fault. he drove when he should not have. Therefore he must pay the fine.

{Life in Israel/Kikar/}


  1. Whoever wrote this article needs a crash course on basic English grammar. Besides for the poor sentence structures, there are some basic rules that even a 5th grader knows. I am bothered by this, and am bringing it up, because there is a major fundamental problem in our yeshiva system regarding English education. How can one support his family when he can’t even fill out a job application properly or get a degree because his English is stuck on a 5th grade level. This article appears to be a reflection of someone going through the yeshiva system, and trying to make it in the journalism field.

  2. What if the passenger refused to buckle but also refused to exit the car? The driver would have to sit on the road all night!

  3. Without dealing with the issue of the putative psak, I would like to point out the problem with second-hand reports like this. It should be noted that this psak is, at this point, that of the reporter and not of Harav Elyashiv.

    The story of the elevator, for example, was reported in a recent Mishpacha magazine as the psak of Rav Greineman.

    It reminds me of when I was learning in kollel in Eretz Yisroel about twenty years ago and there was an argument about smoking in the bais midrash. The next morning there were two notes on the bulletin board, next to each other. One claimed that Harav Elyashiv paskened that despite the objections of other users, one cannot be prevented from smoking in a bais midrash. The adjacent note claimed that Harav Elyashiv poskened that if there was a single objector, is was assur to smoke in a bais midrash.

    I asked an Rov about this and he said that as far as he was concerned, Harav Elyashiv may not have poskened on the issue at all. The bulletin board notes were not evidence at all.

    BTW, I investigated further, asking a Rov who was a korov of Harav Elyashiv, and he said that indeed, he had assered smoking in those circumstances – but that’s only me telling you that, and since you have no idea who I am, I suggest you take that information for what it’s worth: entertainment and nothing more

  4. A driver should be careful who he is giving a lift to. He has to know the difference between a gentleman and a SHTUNK, that is strictly on the take. I know it is difficult, but he will have to pay until he learns. I say –“LET THEM WALK”.

  5. I think it is important to note that although the halacha may be that the passenger does not NEED to pay, clearly the correct thing to do in that case is to pay. There is a clear distinction between din and what is the correct thing to do from ones own prespective. Same thing with the eleveator case (which by the way was quoted in the Mishpacha magazine as having been paskened by R’ Nissim Karelitz, and indicates that you have to take these stories with a grain of salt…) I doubt any one would say that they should not split the cost if they all want to do the right thing.

  6. I asked a similar Shailoh to Reb Zev Leff, and he gave a similar answer.
    He said that since the fine is on the driver, technically no one is Mechuyav to pay. However, it is in the interest of the driver to pay because the ticket is on his license.
    (you cannot be mechayev the passenger as it is only gerama, he did NOT do a maaseh hezek beyadayim)
    Think about it!
    He is right!

  7. Don’t correct the grammar of others unless you are certain that you are correct yourself.

    “Besides for” ?!?!?!? Maybe Aside from!

    People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  8. to take what the great unknown says a couple of comments up a bit further, everything on the internet is for entertainment purposes only, and not for psak. Somethign like this cannot be relied upon as a psak and can only be for the purposes of discussion, sociology, human interest, and ultimately entertainment

  9. The story with the elevator, reminds me of a Gemara in Baba Kama Daf yud amud bais, that discuss 5 men sitting on a bench and a 6th guy coming along and when he sits down it breaks. The gemara discusses both sides and makes a few “okimtas”. A good explanation of the sugya can be found in Chidushei Reb Aryeh Leib (Rov Leib Malin ZT”L)


  11. @Anon-
    Your comment may have been well written and proper Englis, however it definitely was not nice, and in the future should be either kept to yourself or sent directly to Matzav.

  12. We are told that doing chesed will be mekarev the geulah. Individuals who are at the receiving end of a chesed should be obligated to comply with basic and simple requests, that will avoid an unnecessary outlay of cash. When individuals refuse, then don’t wonder when many will stop doing the chesed thereby hurting many others who benefit from the self centered acts of some individuals. I think it is a shame that the individual does not feel any form of guilt in causing the expense to someone doing the good deed. Min hashamyim the record will be coorrected

  13. To anon #1
    i don’t believe “Besides for the poor sentence structures, there are some basic rules that even a 5th grader knows”. is proper English.
    The word ‘for’ should be omitted and structures should probably be singular.
    It should read ‘Besides the poor sentence structure, there are some basic rules that even a 5th grader knows.”

  14. to #5

    No, it was not in Mishpacha about Rabbi Greineman. It’s in Mishpacha issue 355 as the psak of Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, see page 49.