Dear Daf Yomi,
I live too far from Jerusalem to deliver my annual contribution to the Temple myself, so my neighbors and I pooled our shekels together and sent them via messenger. But somewhere along the way, our package was lost.
I’m happy to do my part to support the ritual practices of the Temple, but I’d rather not have to give again this year because our messenger lost track of our shekels. Do I have to send a second donation? And if I do and my original payment is found, can my second donation be credited to next year?
Lost My Shekels
So sorry about your situation. I appreciate that you are reaching out because I’m a little tired of responding to questions about goats and what to do if one that has been chosen to play a part in the Yom Kippur ceremony dies prematurely. And, quite frankly, it’s great to be able to revisit a topic from Tractate Shekalim.
Today’s daf cites a mishnah from Shekalim that addresses this very question:
If residents of a city sent their shekels to the Temple with a messenger, and the shekels were stolen or were lost along the way; if the funds were already collected, the messengers take an oath to the treasurers of the Temple that they did not unlawfully use the shekels, but that they were taken unbeknownst to them or by force.
And if the funds were not yet collected when these coins were stolen, the coins are still considered the property of those who dedicated them to the Temple, and therefore the messengers take an oath to the residents of the city, and the residents of the city donate other shekels to the Temple in their stead.
So, the answer to your first question is dependent upon when your shekels were lost. If they were lost before this year’s donations were collected in the Temple, your messenger service would be required to swear that the money was lost and, if it did, you are on the hook to send in a new donation.
But if the money was lost after the collection, your obligation is met. Even though your coins did not make it all the way to Jerusalem, they are considered to be part of this year’s funds and property of the Temple as soon as the collection occurs.
As to your second question, I’m sorry to say that if you have sent in a new gift and your original is found, neither donation can be applied to next year. This is because they both have already been consecrated for the current year and consecration is not transferable. As a result, you’ll have to make a new donation next year.
You should know that a minority opinion about this matter is included in the mishnah:
Rabbi Yehuda says: They do count toward the following year.
Rava explains that Rabbi Yehuda holds that the obligations of this year are also brought the following year, and therefore it is possible to fulfill one’s obligation for the next year by using the shekels of this year.
In other words, because one can bring an offering to the Temple in the year following the one in which one’s obligation arose, one should also be able to apply donations brought in one year for the following one.
But don’t get too excited. The Gemara quickly rejects this view because another source is brought to show that Rabbi Yehuda does not in fact hold this position.
It is interesting to note that Rabbi Yehuda’s position does not appear in the mishnah itself, nor in the parallel text of the Tosefta. How it made its way into Tractate Yoma is a mystery — just like the disappearance of your shekels.
See you tomorrow,
Read all of Yoma 65 on Sefaria.