Questions Regarding Libraries
QUESTION 8: RETURNING A LATE VIDEO TO THE LIBRARY
A person takes out a video tape from the library for
his kids to watch Sunday afternoon. The rule used
to be that if it was taken out Friday, it could be
returned Monday. Last Friday, when he took out the video,
here was a sign saying that the videos had to be returned
Sunday, which is hard because the library closes at 5PM on
Sunday. He objected, saying that it discriminates against
the Orthodox who can't use it Shabbos, but the librarian
said they didn't know why the rule was changed. He
couldn't get back on Sunday in time, but when he came
in on Monday, he realized he could do the following:
he could put the video down on the desk, and walk away,
in a sense acting as though he didn't know about the new
rule. Then when the person said there was a new rule,
he could look somewhat surprised. Then the librarian
might say 'Forget about it this time, it looks as though
you don't know about the new rule yet.' Is doing such
a thing "genavas das" (deception)?
RABBI BELSKY'S ANSWER
There's no need to say anything. Nobody who jaywalks should
walk over to a judge and say, "I jaywalked, therefore I'm
fining myself fifty dollars." A person doesn't fine himself.
Nor should you pull the wool over their eyes and act as
though you don't know what the rules are. People are not
in this world to act and to fool people, to make a face
as if they didn't know what the rules are, Shivtecha
b'soch mirmoh ("living a life of deceit"). If a person does
that in a small way, little by little it becomes part of
his life. We're not here to act and to fool people into
thinking something that is not the truth. G-d forbid a person
should do that. People say that whoever doesn't do this kind
of thing is a fool and not wise to the ways of the world.
The verse says, "sor mera mishtolel"- the day will come when
anybody who keeps away from evil will be considered a fool.
This is not our way, to fool people. But neither does a
person have to voluntarily surrender himself to the law for
violating the library's rules. Walk in and give it to
them. You're not obligated to tell anybody that it's
late. But to put on an act and to fool people, making
it one thing when it's really something else by putting
on a face -- G-d forbid - that seems like the wrong
thing to do.
QUESTION 9: RE-TAKING OUT A LIBRARY BOOK
One of the library rules is that a book can't be
taken out again by the person who just returned it.
When a book is returned, the librarian puts it on a
cart to be returned to the shelves. If I return a
book that I want to take out again, and the cart is
it is on is in the public area, can I go over ten minutes
later to this cart, and pick out the same book and
take it out again?
RABBI BELSKY'S ANSWER
I don't see any reason to be stringent. You're just
like everybody else, so you can go back and take it
out again, provided that you leave it on the cart
long enough for a number of other people to see it,
and ten minutes seems like a reasonable amount of time.
You don't lose your rights because you're the one who
just returned it. The library wants everyone to have
a crack at it after you return it. Anyone can look
through the books on the cart, including you.
NEXT WEEK'S QUESTION ABOUT RUNNING TO A PHONE
It was only 3 minutes before the bus was scheduled
to arrive, and I started running towards the only
phone near the bus stop in order to tell my wife
something important. When I was ten feet from the
phone, I noticed that another person had been walking
towards the same phone. He didn't see me, and he had
started walking towards the phone way before I had
started running towards it. I was concerned that if
he now saw me running to get the phone, he might think
that I was trying to 'cut him off'. There probably
wasn't enough time for both of us to make a call
before the bus came. Should I grab the phone (since
I was closer to it than he was as this point), or should
I let him use it, since he moved towards the phone way
before I did. If I had seen him walking towards the
phone at the beginning, I certainly wouldn't have
tried to cut him off.
Participate in the Honesty Forum, and discuss the issues we confront in this class!
Subscribe to Honesty and receive this class via e-