1

A non-Jew may never be appointed as an agent for any mission whatsoever. Similarly, a Jew may never be appointed as an agent for a non-Jew for any mission whatsoever. These concepts are derived from Numbers 18:28: "And so shall you offer, also yourselves." This is interpreted to mean: Just as you are members of the covenant, so too, your agents must be members of the covenant. This principle is applied to the entire Torah.

Moreover, the converse is also true: Just as your principals are members of the covenant, so too, in every aspect of Torah law, the principal must be a member of the covenant.

א

אֵין הָעַכּוּ''ם נַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלִיחַ לְדָבָר מִן הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם. וְכֵן אֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלִיחַ לְעַכּוּ''ם לְדָבָר מִן הַדְּבָרִים. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יח כח) "כֵּן תָּרִימוּ גַם אַתֶּם" מָה אַתֶּם בְּנֵי בְּרִית אַף שְׁלוּחֲכֶם בְּנֵי בְּרִית. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְכָל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ. וּמַה מְשַׁלַּחֲכֶם בֶּן בְּרִית אַף בְּכָל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ הַמְשַׁלֵּחַ בֶּן בְּרִית:

2

A man may appoint either a man or a woman as an agent. He may even appoint a married woman, a servant or a maidservant. Since they possess a developed intellectual capacity and are obligated to perform some of the mitzvot, they may serve as agents with regard to financial matters.

A person who does not have a developed intellectual capacity - i.e., a deaf-mute, a mentally or emotionally unsound individual or a minor - may not be appointed as an agent, nor may they appoint agents. This applies to both a male minor and a female minor.

Accordingly, if a person sends a son who is below the age of majority to a storekeeper for oil, the storekeeper measures out an isar's worth of oil for him and gives the child an isar as change, but the child loses the oil and the isar he gave him, the storekeeper is liable to pay. For the father sent the child only to inform the storekeeper that he needed the oil, and the storekeeper should have sent it with a mature person. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations. If, however, the recipient explicitly told the storekeeper: "Send it to me with the child," the storekeeper is not liable.

ב

עוֹשֶׂה אָדָם שָׁלִיחַ אִישׁ אוֹ אִשָּׁה וַאֲפִלּוּ אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ וַאֲפִלּוּ עֶבֶד וְשִׁפְחָה הוֹאִיל וְהֵן בְּנֵי דַּעַת וְיֶשְׁנָן בְּמִקְצָת מִצְוֹת נַעֲשִׂין שְׁלוּחִין לְמַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן. אֲבָל מִי שֶׁאֵינָן בְּנֵי דַּעַת וְהֵן חֵרֵשׁ שׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן אֵינָן נַעֲשִׂין שְׁלוּחִין וְלֹא עוֹשִׂין שָׁלִיחַ. אֶחָד הַקָּטָן וְאֶחָד הַקְּטַנָּה. לְפִיכָךְ הַשּׁוֹלֵחַ בְּנוֹ קָטָן אֵצֶל הַחֶנְוָנִי וּמָדַד לוֹ בְּאִיסָר שֶׁמֶן וְנָתַן לוֹ אֶת הָאִיסָר וְאִבֵּד אֶת הַשֶּׁמֶן וְאֶת הָאִיסָר הַחֶנְוָנִי חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם שֶׁלֹּא שְׁלָחוֹ אֶלָּא לְהוֹדִיעוֹ וְלֹא הָיָה לוֹ לְשַׁלֵּחַ אֶלָּא עִם בֶּן דַּעַת. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. וְאִם פֵּרֵשׁ וְאָמַר שְׁלַח לִי עִם הַקָּטָן הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר:

3

When a person tells a colleague: "You owe me a maneh, send it to me with so and so" - if the debtor desires to send it to the creditor with that person, he discharges his obligation and is no longer responsible for the money even if the person named was a minor. This applies regardless of whether the money was given as a loan or as an entrusted object.

Similarly, when two people agree on a stipulation between themselves that whoever desires to send an object to his colleague may send it with whomever the sender desires, the sender may send it with whomever he sees fit, provided he is appropriate to transfer such an article. If the article is stolen or lost on the way, or the agent denies receiving it, the sender is not liable. The rationale is that every stipulation regarding financial matters that is accepted is binding.

ג

הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ מָנֶה שֶׁיֵּשׁ לִי בְּיָדְךָ בֵּין מִלְוֶה בֵּין פִּקָּדוֹן שְׁלָחֵהוּ לִי בְּיַד פְּלוֹנִי אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה קָטָן אִם רָצָה לְשַׁלְּחוֹ בְּיָדוֹ נִפְטָר וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב בְּאַחֲרָיוּתוֹ. וְכֵן שְׁנַיִם שֶׁהִתְנוּ בֵּינֵיהֶם שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁיִּרְצֶה לִשְׁלֹחַ לַחֲבֵרוֹ מְשַׁלֵּחַ בְּיַד מִי שֶׁיִּרְצֶה הַמְשַׁלֵּחַ הֲרֵי זֶה מְשַׁלֵּחַ בְּיַד מִי שֶׁיֵּרָאֶה לוֹ שֶׁהוּא רָאוּי לְהוֹלִיךְ דָּבָר זֶה. וְאִם נִגְנַב אוֹ אָבַד בַּדֶּרֶךְ אוֹ שֶׁכָּפַר בּוֹ הַשָּׁלִיחַ הֲרֵי הַמְשַׁלֵּחַ פָּטוּר. שֶׁכָּל תְּנַאי שֶׁבַּמָּמוֹן קַיָּם:

4

When an agent buys or sells an article and notifies the other party that he is acting as an agent for another person in this transaction, and it is discovered that he violated the instructions given him by the principal, the sale is nullified and the article must be returned, even if meshichah was performed.

If the agent did not notify the other party that he was an agent, the transaction is binding, and the agent must then satisfy the principal.

ד

הַשָּׁלִיחַ שֶׁקָּנָה אוֹ שֶׁמָּכַר וְהוֹדִיעַ שֶׁהוּא שָׁלִיחַ בְּדָבָר זֶה לִפְלוֹנִי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמָּשַׁךְ אוֹ שֶׁהִמְשִׁיךְ וְנִמְצָא שֶׁעָבַר עַל דַּעַת הַמְשַׁלֵּחַ בָּטֵל הַמִּקָּח וּמַחֲזִיר. וְאִם לֹא הוֹדִיעַ שֶׁהוּא שָׁלִיחַ נִקְנָה הַמִּקָּח וְיִהְיֶה הַדִּין בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין זֶה שֶׁשְּׁלָחוֹ:

5

The following rules apply when Reuven purchased a field from Shimon and told him: "I purchased it on behalf of Levi," Reuven drew up a deed of sale for Levi, and afterwards Reuven said: "I purchased the field for myself. Draw up a deed of sale for me." The seller is not compelled to draw up another deed of sale for Reuven.

If, however, Reuven made a stipulation at the outset, telling the seller: "I am purchasing it for myself, I am having the deed of sale drawn up on behalf of Levi only so that people will not know that I am the buyer," Reuven may compel Shimon to compose another deed of sale in his own name.

ה

רְאוּבֵן שֶׁקָּנָה שָׂדֶה מִשִּׁמְעוֹן וְאָמַר לוֹ לְלֵוִי קָנִיתִי אוֹתָהּ וְכָתַב שְׁטַר מֶכֶר בְּשֵׁם לֵוִי וְחָזַר רְאוּבֵן וְאָמַר לְשִׁמְעוֹן לְעַצְמִי קְנִיתִיהָ חֲזֹר וּכְתֹב שְׁטַר מֶכֶר בִּשְׁמִי. אֵין כּוֹפִין אֶת הַמּוֹכֵר לִכְתֹּב לוֹ שְׁטָר אַחֵר בְּשֵׁם רְאוּבֵן. וְאִם הִתְנָה עִמּוֹ בַּתְּחִלָּה וְאָמַר לוֹ לְעַצְמִי אֶקְנֶה וְזֶה שֶׁאֶכְתֹּב שְׁטָר בְּשֵׁם לֵוִי כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֵדְעוּ בִּי שֶׁאֲנִי הוּא הַקּוֹנֶה הֲרֵי זֶה כּוֹפֵהוּ לַחְזֹר וְלִכְתֹּב שְׁטָר אַחֵר בִּשְׁמוֹ:

6

A broker is an agent, except that he receives a fee for his services. Therefore, if he deviates from the instructions of the owners, he must take responsibility for the loss he caused.

What is implied? Reuven gave an article to Shimon - a broker - and told him: "Sell this article for me, but do not sell it for less than 100 zuz." If Shimon sold it for 50, he must pay Reuven 50 from his own resources. If he sold it for 200, Reuven receives everything. Similar principles apply in all analogous situations.

If Reuven claims: "I told you to sell it for 100," and the broker says: "You told me 50, and I sold it for 50," the broker must take an oath mandated by Scriptural Law, for he admitted a portion of the plaintiff's claim. If he already gave him the 50, he is required to take only a sh'vuat hesset that he carried out the mission, and the purchaser acquires the article.

If the purchaser knew that the article belonged to Reuven and that the person selling it to him was only a broker, he must return the article to its owner. He may, however, have a ban of ostracism issued against anyone who gave permission for an article to be sold for 50 zuz or agreed to the sale at 50 and then retracted after the sale was made.

ו

הַסַּרְסוּר שָׁלִיחַ הוּא אֶלָּא שֶׁהוּא נוֹטֵל שְׂכַר שְׁלִיחוּתוֹ לְפִיכָךְ אִם שִׁנָּה דַּעַת הַבְּעָלִים מְשַׁלֵּם מַה שֶּׁהִפְסִיד. כֵּיצַד. רְאוּבֵן שֶׁנָּתַן חֵפֶץ לְשִׁמְעוֹן הַסַּרְסוּר וְאָמַר לוֹ מְכֹר לִי זֶה וְאַל תִּמְכֹּר בְּפָחוֹת מִמֵּאָה וְהָלַךְ וּמְכָרוֹ הַכּל לִרְאוּבֵן. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. רְאוּבֵן אוֹמֵר בְּמֵאָה אָמַרְתִּי לְךָ וְהַסַּרְסוּר אוֹמֵר בַּחֲמִשִּׁים אָמַרְתָּ לִי וְכֵן בַּחֲמִשִּׁים מָכַרְתִּי נִשְׁבָּע הַסַּרְסוּר שְׁבוּעַת הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁהֲרֵי הוֹדָה בְּמִקְצָת. וְאִם כְּבָר נָתַן לוֹ הַחֲמִשִּׁים נִשְׁבָּע שְׁבוּעַת הֶסֵּת שֶׁעָשָׂה שְׁלִיחוּתוֹ וְזוֹכֶה הַלּוֹקֵחַ. וְאִם יָדַע הַלּוֹקֵחַ שֶׁחֵפֶץ זֶה שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן הוּא וְזֶה הַמּוֹכֵר לוֹ סַרְסוּר הוּא יַחְזִיר הַחֵפֶץ לַבְּעָלִים וְיַחֲרִים עַל מִי שֶׁנָּתַן לוֹ רְשׁוּת לִמְכֹּר בַּחֲמִשִּׁים אוֹ שֶׁרָצָה בַּחֲמִשִּׁים וְחָזַר בּוֹ אַחַר שֶׁקָּנִיתִי:

7

The following rule applies whenever a broker informs the purchaser that a specific article or piece of property belongs to a principal, Reuven. If, after the purchaser acquires the article, Reuven says: "I don't want to sell at this price," the purchaser must return the article. For Reuven did not specify a price and tell the agent: "Sell the article for this and this much."

Whenever a broker loses an article, or it is stolen or broken, he is liable to reimburse the owner, for he is considered a paid watchman.

ז

כָּל סַרְסוּר שֶׁהוֹדִיעַ לַלּוֹקֵחַ שֶׁחֵפֶץ זֶה אוֹ קַרְקַע זֶה שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן וְאַחַר שֶׁקָּנָה הַלּוֹקֵחַ אָמַר רְאוּבֵן אֵינִי רוֹצֶה לִמְכֹּר בְּדָמִים אֵלּוּ מַחְזִיר הַלּוֹקֵחַ שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא פָּסַק לוֹ דָּמִים וְאָמַר לוֹ מָכוּר לְךָ בְּכָךְ וְכָךְ. [כָּל] סַרְסוּר שֶׁאָבַד הַחֵפֶץ מִיָּדוֹ אוֹ נִגְנַב אוֹ נִשְׁבַּר חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא נוֹשֵׂא שָׂכָר:

8

The following rules apply when a person takes articles from a craftsman's workplace to send as presents to his future father-in-law's home and tells the craftsman: "If they accept them from me, I will pay you for them. If not, I will reimburse you slightly for the favor." If the presents were destroyed by forces beyond his control while they were being delivered, the giver is liable to pay. If they were destroyed by forces beyond his control while they were being returned, he is not liable.

More stringent rules apply if he took the articles with the intent of selling them to others, telling him: "If they will be able to be sold in such and such a place," or "until such and such a time, I will pay you such and such. If they will not be sold, I will return them to you." If they were destroyed by forces beyond his control, whether while they were being transported or while they were being returned, the person who took the articles is liable to pay.

ח

הַלּוֹקֵחַ כֵּלִים מִבֵּית הָאֻמָּן לְשַׁגְּרָן לְבֵית חָמִיו וְאָמַר לוֹ אִם מְקַבְּלִין אוֹתָן מִמֶּנִּי אֲנִי אֶתֵּן לְךָ אֶת דְּמֵיהֶם וְאִם לָאו אֶתֵּן שָׂכָר מוּעָט וְנֶאֶנְסוּ בַּהֲלִיכָה הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם. וְאִם נֶאֶנְסוּ בַּחֲזָרָה פָּטוּר. נְטָלָן עַל מְנָת לְמָכְרָן לַאֲחֵרִים וְאָמַר לוֹ אִם יִמָּכְרוּ בְּמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי אוֹ עַד זְמַן פְּלוֹנִי אֶתֵּן לְךָ דָּמִים כָּךְ וְכָךְ וְאִם לֹא יִמָּכְרוּ אַחְזִירֵם לְךָ וְנֶאֶנְסוּ בֵּין בַּהֲלִיכָה בֵּין בַּחֲזָרָה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם:

9

Whenever an agent claims that a loss beyond his control occurred, causing him to lose this and this amount, he must take the oath required of agents to support his claim, and then he is released of responsibility.

If the loss occurred in a place where it was likely that he would be able to find witnesses to corroborate his statements or the matter is of public knowledge and witnesses could thus be found, he must bring witnesses to substantiate his claim. If he does not bring witnesses, his claim is not accepted, and he is required to pay.

An incident occurred concerning a person who told his agent: "Buy 400 measures of wine for me with money of mine that is in your possession." The agent bought the wine for him and it turned out to be vinegar. The Sages said: "Such a large quantity of vinegar is bound to have been spoken about publicly." Since it is possible to substantiate the claim with witnesses, the agent must bring witnesses that the wine had not turned into vinegar at the time of the purchase, and thus free himself from responsibility. If he does not substantiate his claim, he must pay. Similar laws apply in all instances regarding entities where it is feasible to substantiate a claim.

When, by contrast, the claim concerns a hidden matter that is not easy to substantiate, the agent must take an oath concerning it. Similar laws apply to all claims to be issued by a partner and the like. And similar laws apply with regard to watchmen. If it is likely that the claim can be substantiated, the watchman must substantiate it, as will be explained.

ט

כָּל שָׁלִיחַ שֶׁטָּעַן שֶׁאֵרְעוֹ אֹנֶס פְּלוֹנִי וְהִפְסִיד כָּךְ וְכָךְ הֲרֵי זֶה נִשְׁבָּע שְׁבוּעַת הַשּׁוֹמְרִין עַל טַעֲנָתוֹ וְיִפָּטֵר. וְאִם הָיָה הָאֹנֶס בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לְהָבִיא עָלָיו עֵדִים אוֹ דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ שֶׁהֲרֵי יִמְצָא עֵדִים הֲרֵי זֶה צָרִיךְ לְהָבִיא רְאָיָה עַל טַעֲנָתוֹ וְאִם לֹא הֵבִיא עֵדִים אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן וּמְשַׁלֵּם. מַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁאָמַר לִשְׁלוּחוֹ קְנֵה לִי אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת גַרְבֵּי יַיִן מִמָּעוֹת שֶׁהָיוּ לִי בְּיָדוֹ וְקָנָה לוֹ וְנִמְצְאוּ חֹמֶץ אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים מִנְיָן גָּדוֹל כָּזֶה שֶׁהֶחְמִיץ קוֹל יֵשׁ לוֹ הוֹאִיל וְאֶפְשָׁר לְהָבִיא רְאָיָה יָבִיא רְאָיָה שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה הַיַּיִן חֹמֶץ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁלָּקַח וְיִפָּטֵר וְאִם לֹא יָבִיא רְאָיָה יְשַׁלֵּם. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה מִדְּבָרִים שֶׁהָרְאָיָה מְצוּיָה בָּהֶן אֲבָל דָּבָר הַנֶּעֱלָם שֶׁאֵין רְאָיָתוֹ מְצוּיָה יִשָּׁבַע עָלָיו. וְכֵן הַדִּין בְּכָל טַעֲנָה שֶׁיִּטְעֹן הַשֻּׁתָּף וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ. וְכֵן הַדִּין בְּטַעֲנַת הַשּׁוֹמְרִין אִם הָרְאָיָה יְכוֹלָה לִהְיוֹת אוֹ יָבִיא רְאָיָה עַל טַעֲנָתוֹ אוֹ יְשַׁלֵּם כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר: