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Thought for the Day: Relinquishing Ownership

The Mishna Brura is only on one section of Shulchan Aruch: Orach Chaim, the laws of daily life.  I heard once the reason for that was that the author of the Mishna Brura was concerned that any sh'eila that required elucidation from the other chalakim should be taken to a rav, whereas anything in Orach Chaim was needed by every ba'al ha'bayis.  If that is true, then I wonder what he would think about our generation when the rabba'im use the Mishna Brura as a primary source.  It could also be that since the Mishna Brura took over 40 years to research and write, he simply ran out of time.

Be that as it may, one of  the beauties of Orach Chaim is that it touches many, many issues that get greater attention in other sections (which is their primary home).  After all, halacha by its nature is very down to earth and practicle, so if you are going to cover daily living, you are going to end up touching all sorts of area of halacha.  Case in point: relinquishing ownership.  Whereas those halachos are discussed at length in Choshen Mishpat, 273:7; they find there way into the Mishna Brura in two places.  Once in hilchos Shabbos and once in hilchos Pesach.  The reference in hilchos Pesach is regarding the bitul that we do erev Pesach.  As is well known, we need both bitul and b'dika because the chachamim were concerned that if we had a lot to good chameitz we might not be sincere in our relinquishing ownership.

The reference in hilchos Shabbos is regarding relinquishing ownership of an animal that was loaned to a non-Jew (246:3).  A condition of the loan was that the animal was to be returned before Shabbos.  Just as we are forbidden to do m'lacha on Shabbos, so too we are forbidden to allow our animals to do m'lacha on Shabbos (except that which they need to do for their own benefit, such as grazing).  If the non-Jew, however, delays and keeps the animal over Shabbos, then we are allowed to mafkir (relinquish ownership) before Shabbos.  Usually a person must declare his intent to relinquish ownership before a beis din of three (and that is still l'chatchila).  In this case, however, because of the severity of allowing our animal to work on Shabbos, the infidelity of goyim, and the fact that we made it a condition of the loan in the first place, one my relinquish ownership even just to himself (beino l'vein atzmo).

The place you won't find this kula is when one has new keili (that has not been toveled) that he really needs for Shabbos.  In that case the advice of the Shulchan Aruch is to makne the keili to a goy and then borrow it back from him.  Why not have him mafkir the keili in that case?  The k'sav sofer says it is because we are afraid that his statement will be "deburim b'alma" -- empty talk.  (I am such a buki with my Dirshu edition Mishna Brura; I could throw in a kaf ha'chaim also, but I don't want to show off.)

Which brings us back to the issue of visiting a beer brewery, being given a glass of fresh beer, and being told you can keep the glass.  So... if you like that beer, there are compelling reasons to say you are just claiming the glass is hefker to allow yourself to drink the beer right now.

Bottom line: best thing is to have in mind not to acquire the beer glass.  Once that is not an option, just makne it to the goy who gave it to you, ask if you can borrow his glass to drink your beer, then afterwards ask does he mind giving the glass to you.  You are afraid the goy will think you are more than a little cuckoo doing that?  If you like the beer, there is compelling reason to believe you are...


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