Rabbi Meir Orlian
“Do you realize that it’s Shaindy’s 30th birthday in a month?” Sara said to Penina. “It’s amazing how time flies.”
“I would like to get her something special,” Penina said. “It’s not common that high-school friends are close for so long. We still talk on the phone once a week.”
“Great idea,” said Sara. “We should also include Bracha. She was her closest neighbor before Shaindy moved away.”
“What should we get?” asked Penina.
“I know!” Sara’s face lit up. “My neighbor, Mrs. Saffer, makes jewelry. We can choose a necklace for Shaindy.”
“Fantastic!” exclaimed Penina. “I’ll call Bracha and ask her if she’s okay with the idea.”
The following day, Penina met Sara outside in the park. “I spoke with Bracha and she was eager to participate in the gift. She also offered to deliver the necklace to Shaindy.”
The next day, Sara and Penina bought a necklace from Mrs. Saffer. “Shaindy will love it,” Sara said. “It’s just her taste!”
“I’ll give Bracha the necklace next week,” said Penina, “so that she can deliver it to Shaindy.”
Penina brought the necklace over to Bracha.
“It’s lovely,” said Bracha. “I’ll make sure it gets to Shaindy in time for her birthday.”
A few weeks later, Sara and Penina were talking. “It’s strange,” Sara said. “Shaindy never said anything to me about the necklace.”
“I know,” Penina replied. “I also heard nothing. I finally asked Shaindy if she received the necklace, and she said that she hadn’t. I’ll ask Bracha what happened.”
“I sent the gift with my neighbor, who works with Shaindy,” Bracha said. “I’ll call her.”
Bracha called her neighbor. “Did you ever give that necklace to Shaindy?” she asked.
“I remember that you asked me about bringing it to her,” answered her friend, “but you never ended up giving it to me.”
Bracha called Penina back. “Somehow, my neighbor doesn’t recall that I gave her the necklace to deliver to Shaindy,” she said. “It seems there was a mix-up.”
Penina called Sara. “Bad news,” she said. “Bracha says that she gave the necklace to her neighbor, who works with Shaindy, but the neighbor claims that she never received it.”
“What do we do now?” asked Sara. “That necklace cost a lot of money! Bracha was supposed to get it to her.”
“I agree,” replied Penina. “But she says that she sent it to Shaindy with her neighbor.”
“Well, then, it’s her neighbor’s fault,” said Sara. “Maybe she lost it, or even worse...”
“I don’t think Bracha would give the necklace to someone who would steal it,” said Penina. “But her neighbor said that she doesn’t recall getting the necklace. It’s very strange.”
“Someone’s got to take responsibility for the necklace,” said Sara. “The question is: Who?”
“Maybe Rabbi Dayan can help,” suggested Penina. “My husband will ask if we can meet with him in his house.”
They all met with Rabbi Dayan. Penina related what happened and asked, “Who is responsible for the missing necklace?”
“If Bracha informed you and Sara that she was going to send the necklace with someone,” said Rabbi Dayan, “she is not responsible for it, since she followed the arrangement and you trusted that her neighbor was reliable (C.M. 176:10).”
“What about the neighbor?” asked Sara.
“The neighbor is also not held responsible,” said Rabbi Dayan, “since she denies ever having received the necklace (121:8).”
“I have to acknowledge,” Bracha said with a sigh, “that I never told Sara and Penina that I was going to deliver the necklace through my neighbor.”
“In that case, you are responsible for the necklace if you cannot ascertain what happened to it,” said Rabbi Dayan. “A person or partner who is entrusted with an item, and certainly one who is asked to deliver it, should not give it over to another, unless the other person is implicitly trusted by the owners. If she does, she carries liability if the item is lost (291:26; Pischei Choshen, Pikadon 4:ftnt. 8).”
“And if we had trusted the neighbor?” asked Penina.
“Bracha is responsible for the necklace in our case even if you had trusted her neighbor,” concluded Rabbi, “since Bracha cannot account for it and the neighbor denies having received it.”
A week later, Bracha called Penina. “Guess what happened?” she exclaimed. “My cousin, who also works with Shaindy, returned the necklace to me. I forgot that I gave it to her instead and she didn’t remember to whom she was supposed to give it!”