New York Supreme Court holds by Rabbeinu Tam's time?

Court rules that defendants illegally served because it was still Shabbat - according to Rabbeinu Tam.

Tal Polon,

Still Shabbat?
Still Shabbat?
Flash 90

The disagreement among traditional Jewish arbiters over the definition of nightfall recently had practical ramifications in a ruling by the New York State Supreme Court.

While many authorities of Jewish law hold that nightfall is when three medium-sized stars appear in the sky, the halakhic commentator Rabbeinu Tam rules that nightfall is roughly 72 minutes after the sun disappears beneath the horizon. Which definition of “nightfall” an observant Jew holds by takes on practical significance when, for example, the question of when Shabbat is over comes into play, since Rabbeinu Tam’s definition leads to a later ending time for Shabbat.

A New York Supreme Court ruling from last month, reported on today in Yeshiva World News, discussed whether Rabbeinu Tam’s time for the conclusion of Shabbat was valid with respect to General Business Law Section 13, which states that whoever “maliciously procures any process in a civil action to be served on Saturday, upon any person who keeps Saturday as holy time, and does not labor on that day [. . .] is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

In the ruling on the case Signature Bank NA v. Koschitzki, Judge Johnny Lee Baynes argued that the defendants had been illegally served, since the defendants hail from a hasidic community which holds by Rabbeinu Tam’s definition, and it was still Shabbat for the defendants at the time of serving.

“The Court understands that there is disagreement as to the time at which Sabbath ends among different groups of observant Jews,” Judge Baynes noted. “This Court does not believe it would be appropriate for it to determine the manner in which religious custom should be observed by any individual group or require that one particular group's traditions be adhered to uniformly. The time asserted by defendants is not unreasonable given the conflicting opinions contained in different religious sources. Thus, the Court finds that plaintiff was in violation of General Business Law §13 when it served defendants during their Sabbath observance.”

As such, the case was dismissed.