Liberating Holy Articles

Another problem that existed for Jews to deal with during our years in the Exile, was how to repossess holy articles taken or confiscated by the enemy. This was especially problematic when we were being oppressed under foreign rule. If we heard that a Torah scroll or Tefillin or Mezuzot were held by Gentiles, we needed to act as a community. On the one hand, we did not want these objects desecrated. But on the other hand, we did not want to encourage the non-Jews to steal these articles and use them as a means to extort money from us. The Rabbis established that an amount of approximately 12% was the maximum to be paid over market value in order to save these objects. Still another problem existed after being returned to the Jewish community. There was serious doubt as to whether such a Torah could be read after being in the possession of non-Jews. If we were certain that a Torah was written by a heretic, it needed to be burned. So in most instances, these items were put in גניזה or storage until it could be determined that they were written by a proper kosher scribe.