Question:

I am confused as to whether buying lottery tickets is prohibited.

I know that gambling is prohibited because it is considered to be a “theft” in that people expect to win but often don’t.

However, Chabad has a story about a Rabbi telling someone to buy a lottery ticket, making me wonder if it is allowed. I also know that many synagogues use raffles to raise money.

Don’t people who buy lottery tickets still hope to win and 99.9% of the time loose? Or does the small cost and general understanding that one will (statistically) likely loose make it acceptable? Or does the lack of necessary skill (beyond needing to accurately check ones numbers) play a role in determining lottery’s Halachic status?

Answer:

Buying a lottery ticket is not gambling because the person doesn’t really think that if he wins that it is because of his talent etc. and he also knows that his chances of winning are very low, therefore he is just taking a chance that maybe from shomayim they will let him win.

As a side point there are gedolim that say that since the chances of winning the lottery are so small, and it has more than a 99% chance of losing his money, that buying a lottery ticket is not considered part of a persons hishtadlus to make a parnassa.

Sources:

MIshpitei Shlomo ( R’ Zefrani) 3-9,  Kovetz Bikurei Yosef 2 pg 21, in the name of R Zundel of Salant.

Tags: betting lottery

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