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May I use a Chabad Torah app that is claimed to be developed illegally?

 

Question: I have installed a Chabad Torah app, but now I have seen a letter that those who developed this app did not have the requisite permission and are operating illegally. Am I allowed to continue using the app (according to halacha, and the Rebbe’s policy)?

 

Answer:

We do not have all the information necessary to be able to decide who is right here, and only a Beis Din that heard the arguments of both sides would have the possibility to decide this matter.

Nonetheless, here are several observations about the matter in general:

1. It’s very strange that there is no mention of Halacha in this letter, only about the civil law as it has been been determined in the secular courts.

2. Regarding the actual ownership of  Chabad literature, this is an old debate which to the best of my knowledge has yet to be determined in a properly constituted Beis Din. (If my recollection serves me right, I believe the court itself ruled recently in that it does not belong exclusively to any party. Nonetheless, as mentioned this has no bearing on actual halacha).

3. On the other hand, while the Torah is in favor of disseminating Torah teachings as wide as possible and the Rebbe encouraged publicizing such matters wherever and whenever one can, so long as it doesn’t cause encroachment on other’s rights and cause financial harm (hasagas gevul), obviously no one may take the law into their own hands and do as he pleases without permission and approval of a higher authority, whomever that may be. This is not only to to potential matters of hasagas gevul, but also because there has to be the proper acharayus to ensure things are done properly. While the Rebbe was very much in favor of spreading Yiddishkeit, he wanted things to operate in a seder mesudar, and would not allow a situation where everybody does what they want and how they want. There were many instances where the Rebbe decried the actions of individuals, particularly bachurim, who published kuntreisim etc., but without the proper oversight or approval from those in authority.

4. At the same time and in light of all the above, it is impossible to halachically prohibit its actual usage at this time.

 

 

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