Volume 31 Number 51
                 Produced: Sat Feb 12 22:48:12 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia - Collect Call
         [Avi Feldblum]
Cleaning ladies and Genaivah
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Collect call game (4)
         [Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes, Warren Burstein, Sammy Finkelman,
David Charlap]
Telephone Fraud and Aliyah
         [Carl Singer]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000 22:10:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Administrivia - Collect Call

We have been discussing this topic and there have been many responses with
varying opinions. I think it would be very interesting to use the contacts
of mail-jewish to see if we can get a number of actual psak Halacha,
hopefully with explanations, from Poskim and Rabonim that members of the
list may have contact to, and then be able to get the results back to the
list and be able to discuss that. As such, I have put together a letter,
which I offer to list members to give to any Rabonim or Poskim that they
might know.

While I realize that this may not be the most pressing issue that is
facing our community, I think it would be an interesting experience to see
what may result from this.

Start of letter:

With honor and respect to the Rav,

My name is Avi Feldblum and I run an electronic mailing list that deals
with topics of interest to the frum / halakhic Jew and is read by over
2000 people. Recently, we have been discussing an issue, and I requested
members of the list who have connections to Rabonim and Poskim to give
this request to them.

In order to make this as clear as possible, I am asking for either a psak
Halacha on any of the cases I enumerate, with an explanation of the psak
if possible, or a response to the issue on the haskafa level (or both). My
intention is to collect any responses I get and then make them available
to everyone via the mail-jewish web site by having the results scanned in.
If that is not acceptable, please let me know.

	1)Is it permitted to make a collect telephone call, where the
name of the person you are asking for is not a real person (or a person
you know does not live at that residence), so that the purpose of the
call is to use the collect call system to thereby pass information from
the calling party to the called party without having to pay for the
	2)Is it permitted to  make a collect  telephone call, where  you
use the name of a person who  does live at the  number called, but where
you have  set up a previous signal  to let the  person know, so that the
intention is that  they should refuse (for   example, Reuvan leaves  his
father Yaacov's house to return home, and the understanding is that when
Reuvan reaches his house,  he will make a  collect call to Yaacov, which
Yaacov can refuse, but will know that Reuvan got home).
	3)If either or both of the above cases do not violate Halacha,
are there any hashkafic issues that should be considered?

Submitted in respect,
Avi Feldblum
Mail-jewish moderator
Electronic responses can be sent to: <mljewish@...>
Mailed responses can be sent to:
	Avi Feldblum
	55 Cedar Ave 
	Highland Park, NJ 08904
Phone number: 732-247-7525


From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 00:55:54 EST
Subject: Cleaning ladies and Genaivah

After all the discussions about the collect call game, and the minute
amount of stealing involved, I must ask, what about the much more
obvious problem of not paying taxes for your cleaning lady?  Don't
forget, Zoe Baird is not our Attorney General (and we got stuck with
Reno) because she didn't pay taxes for her cleaning lady.  Sounds like
full blown Genaivah to me!

Chaim Shapiro


From: Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes <sthoenna@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 2000 21:20:34 -0800
Subject: Re: Collect call game

Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...> wrote:
>A very quick point (as I want to get an issue out and then need to get to
>work early today). I'm not sure if I agree that the consideration is
>whether or not we cause the phone company to incur any additional
>expenses. The alternative way I look at it is whether I have used a
>revenue producing time/code slot without paying for it (e.g. I have used
>resources of the company that it is thier intention it should be revenue
>producing without paying for it).

Try this analogy.  You are a customer in a deli at closing time.  The
worker is clearing things up for the day and places the coffee urn
next to the sink and starts it draining, then leaves the room
temporarily.  You reach over the counter and refill your cup from the
stream of coffee.  Have you done anything wrong?  It sure seems like
it to me.

If anything, the collect call scenario is even worse because you could
cause contention of the revenue slot.

[Yitzchak and I had an email exchange on this prior to this getting on
the list. My response: 
I'm not sure I agree that the analogy is a forbidden case. Once it has
been started draining by the store owner/worker, that may be a case of
clear hefker (making something ownerless) in which case it would not be
forbidden. An interesting question (if what I said above is correct) is
what if they have removed the urn from the place where it is for serving
customers and is sitting next to the sink, for draining as described
above), and the worker leaves before starting the draining process. Would
taking a cup at that point still constitute theft. My gut says yes, but it
also says that I suspect I could generate a halachic arguement to permit.

Avi Feldblum

Responce from Yitzchak was to modifiy his posting to this case, I'm
including his original and my response to see if anyone else has any
comments on it]

From: Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes <sthoenna@...>
Try this analogy.  You are a customer in a deli at closing time.  The
worker is clearing things up for the day and places the coffee urn
next to the sink and starts it draining, then leaves the room
temporarily.  You reach over the counter and refill your cup from the
stream of coffee.  While there may be grounds for saying this is not
actually forbidden, would anybody recommend this behaviour?

From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 14:41:02
Subject: Re: Collect call game

>Thats the whole question. Is fraud involved when making use of a service
>in a LEGAL way where the company doen't stand to gain. When I call my
>father collect call, using my name, I have no objection to him accepting
>the call. It's his bill, his money. If he decides not to accept the call
>that's his business. I for my part have made use of the service in a
>proper and legal manner.

But you have a prior arrangement with him that he won't accept the call,
that's what makes it fraudulent.

>As with a lot of halachas in Judaism, it depends on one's kavannah.  If
>one digs a hole in the ground on Shabbat for the sake of having a hole,
>it's forbidden. If for having the earth itself, and a hole results, by
>Torah law its allowed. (Rabinnically obviously not allowed).
>So here, if you davka call collect, or wake up your friend for the
>minyan wth a 2 ring call, with kavannah, intention, to defraud then
>presumably it would not be allowed under halacha and civil law.

The prior arrangement that the collect call won't be accepted demonstrates
kavanah to defraud.

>Any phone company would have a hard time trying to prove fraud, even if
>one would openly admit in court of being happy that the other party
>doen't answer the 2 ring minyan call or the collect call.

This is not relevant to whether or not it is halachically permitted.

>It would appear that the reference to the Californial penal code of
>illegal signalling is connected to attachment of illicit devices or the
>dialling of numbers not sanctioned for use by the general public.

Here it is again:

  By use of a code, prearranged scheme, or other similar stratagem or
device   whereby the person, in effect, sends or receives information

How does the collect call game fail to be a "prearranged scheme" that
"sends information"?  Where does the above mention attaching devices or
telco private numbers?

>From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
>One person cited Cal law that prohibits 'making arrangements to steal
>from the phone company'. Quite frankly I have not reviewed the notes to
>this law and don't know if it covers the collect call game. But even if
>it did, it frequently happens that what is prohibited in one state is
>permissable in other states. In fact many corporations make money that

What I suggested when posting the California law was that people should
check local laws.

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 00 17:07:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Collect call game

The problem with the collect call game is that 1) technically the phone
company can't stop it even if it knows about it and 2) the operator may
know but not the company. Against that, the company saying they don't
permit it may not be because they care but because they want to preserve
their rights in cases where larger sums of money are involved.  Of
course all this applies to the U.S. phone system as it stood before

From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 06:52:37 +0000
Subject: Re: Collect call game

Daniel M Wells
> Thats the whole question. Is fraud involved when making use of a
> service in a LEGAL way where the company doen't stand to gain.

It is fraudulent because you are placing the call under false pretenses.

You tell the phone company that you want to place a call and have it
billed to a third party when in fact you want the phone company to
deliver a message and not bill anybody.

The fact that nobody could ever gather enough evidence to prosecute you
is irrelevant.  The fact that the company being stolen from can't tell
your act of fraud from a legitimate call is also irrelevant.

> David pointed out that stealing a single grape from a fruit stand in a
> supermarket is forbidden. Obviously and I can assure you that the
> supermarket manager would presumably prosecute the offender - for the
> principle of the matter. But here the action the thief took had no
> essence of legality.

No.  Most grocers would not prosecute over a single grape.  They'd be
insane to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees over something worth
less than a cent.

The two cases are identical.  In both cases, you are committing a crime
by stealing something worth a virtually insignificant amount.  In both
cases, people are not prosecuted becaue it costs too much to do so.

> It would appear that the reference to the Californial penal code of
> illegal signalling is connected to attachment of illicit devices or
> the dialling of numbers not sanctioned for use by the general public.

The fact that California does not have an (unenforceable) law against
this doesn't make it right.

> Is there intentional pervasion, deception or misrepresentation in that
> 2 ring minyan call / collect call (as long as one remains truthful)?

Absolutely.  You, by placing the call, are telling the phone company
that you want to talk to the person on the other end.  If you are
placing the call for any other reason, you are lying to them.

Let's try this angle: You walk into a car dealership and start asking a
lot of questions about a car you see there.  Then you say thank you,
walk out, and never return.  Did you commit an act of deception?  I
think you did - even though you never said you wanted to buy anything,
your act of questionining the dealer about a car implies an interest in
making a purchase.  The dealer gives his time and knowledge to you in
the expectation that you want this information to base a purchasing
decision on.  When you leave, he doesn't know if you merely decided
against the car, decided to buy elsewhere, or were just wasting his

This is exactly the same as the phone call.  In both cases, you are
engaged in an act of deception, and the person or corporation being
deceived is never aware of it.

-- David


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 07:31:43 EST
Subject: Re: Telephone Fraud and Aliyah

<<  If a visitor from abroad (doesn't pay taxes) makes use of City services,
 (drinks from a public water fountain) is he defrauding the City. >>

No, he or she is not.  No more than when you drive your car into another
jurisdiction on a highway maintained by (say) an adjacent county.  It is
an accepted and understood use of public property.

I've joined the multitudes in discussing the various views of the
"metziah" involving various forms and intents of calling card schtick.
We're never going to converge on a single definition of the metziah.
Without that the halachik implications are difficult to pin down.

Perhaps it would help to change the tone from one that involves or
demands justification (excuse?) for actions done to a nonjudgmental look
forward -- given the circumstances and the opportunity as a G-d fearing
Jew who observes halacha .... Would I do this (the call schtick) or not?

 .... And Aliyah?

With the exception of those few who have had horrendous personal
disasters in making Aliyah, (and perhaps those who think that busses are
too crowded :) you'll find few who have made Aliyah arguing against it.
Many arguments against Aliyah are motivated IMNSHO by a need to
rationalize the dissonance that is felt when one does not choose to, or
one does not consider making Aliyah as an option.

Again, as with the phone issue, it's difficult to take oneself out of
the discussion (or is it an argument?)

Carl Singer


End of Volume 31 Issue 51