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Pidyon Shvuyim – Posting Bail

Question:
Is there a mitzva of Pidyon Shvuyim (inyana deyoma unfortunately) nowadays? What are some halachic guidlines? If one bails someone out of jail is it considered pidyon shvuyim? I ask because in jails now a days the people have rights, they have tv etc, its not like the gemara describes that its worse than raav, cherev etc. its definitely a chessed to get them out but is it mitzvas pidyon shvuyim?
Thanks

Answer:

The actual mitzva of Pidyon Shvuyim applies only in an instance where the “captive’s” life is danger. Unfortunately, in many prisons across the world one’s life is in constant danger. All the more so if he is Jewish and identifiable as such. In such a scenario getting him out of this place would be the mitzva of Pidyon Shvuyim.

In a scenario where a person is in jail for a white collar crime and the jail poses no threat to his life or well being, bailing him out of jail would not be classified as Pidyon Shvuyim. The question as whether to raise community funds to bail him out as an act of tzedakkah and chesed, needs to be judged on a case by case basis [obviously one who is wrongly charged or accidentally involved, is different than someone who committed crimes with intent and caused chilul Hashem and a bad name to the community].

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