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Breaking a Commitment and the Laws of Garmi

Adapted from a shiur by Rav Daniel Dombroff on Parshas Va’eira

ויכבד לבו ולא שלח את העם

There are two levels of indirect damages:

  • Gerama – very indirect, for which one is patur bidei adam and chayav bidinei shamayim (Bava Kamma 6th perek)
  • Garmi – more direct, and many rishonim hold one is chayav
    • Shach – Practically, one is chayav if there is peshia (negligence) involved.


Case #1: Is someone liable based on garmi for breaking an engagement and causing others a loss of money? 

  • Although every case differs, there is a strong side to say that often one would be (see Rambam, Hilchos Zechiya 6:24), as they prevent the other side from proceeding.
  • Example: One kalla felt she couldn’t continue an engagement as a result of a fictitious image of what marriage should be (based on unhealthy exposure to secular values), but the chassan actually broke it off (due to her concerns).
    • It is possible that her inability to realize that her fantasies weren’t practical is considered peshia for garmi, and her side would have to pay for losses.


Case #2: Garmi for breaking a commitment to hire workers

  • Breaking a commitment alone renders him mechusar amana (not trustworthy) and is assur unless something changed after the original commitment (Rema C.M. 254)
  • If the worker had already given up another job
    • Tosafos, Rosh, Sma – Chayav for loss due to garmi
    • Nesivos Chayav due to a separate takana
  • If the worker began working before he was dismissed
    • Chayav to pay for the work done, at a rate of a po’el batel (how much one would accept to take a vacation).
  • If the employer’s situation effectively prevents the worker from working
    • This may be garmi since the employer does not allow for the employees to properly do their job, and the employer would have to pay.


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