The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 17 May 2008 / 12 Iyyar 5768

Retrieved from the Sea

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

The matter that came before the Beit Din (Rabbinical Court) was truly an unusual one. The claimant was Rabbi Safrin, the Admor of Komarna, and the defendant was a young survivor of the Holocaust. The issue was who had the right to a Sefer Torah that belonged to the Komarna Chassidim in pre-war Europe.

The defendant, who was the current possessor of the Sefer Torah, described to the judges how he had saved this sacred scroll by wrapping it around his body and thus concealing it from the enemy as he dashed from place to place. The court ruled in his favor on the basis of the Talmudic ruling that something retrieved from the sea belongs to the finder because its owner has certainly despaired of ever regaining possession.

The claimant accepted the decision but was so interested in bringing the Sefer Torah back to its ancestral home that he paid the defendant a handsome sum of money to relinquish ownership. Thus was the Sefer Torah once again "retrieved from the sea".

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