Volume 31 Number 63
                 Produced: Fri Feb 18  5:18:09 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Collect call game (6)
         [Daniel M Wells, Donald Gertler, Barak Greenfield, Sam Gamoran,
Carl M. Sherer, Russell Hendel]
Collect call game, copying software for a friend
         [David Charlap]
Masada and Suicide
         [Best, Barry H]


From: Daniel M Wells <wells@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 13:28:14 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Collect call game

> 	I do not agree on the collect call issue, since the telephone
> company, as the owner of the network, is free to set their conditions
> UNLESS AND UNTIL the government rules otherwise.

> And until you have proof otherwise, buying their products means using
> them their way, like it or not.

I agree. However what would you do in the case where they have the
possibility to set down conditions of use (say of the call collect
service), but they choose not to do so.

Does that not imply that in that type of service, they don't see it as a
problem of theft, but rather as a business were they stand more to gain
than to lose.


From: Donald Gertler <dgertler@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 13:14:16 -0500
Subject: Re: Collect call game

A few similar cases come to mind...

Case 1: Does it matter that a person is involved?  Isn't it just as bad
for me to signal by letting the phone ring once and then hanging up.

Case 2: What about all those transcontinental families that ring each
other after Shabbos has arrived on the receiving end?  I assume that
this practice is at an equivalent level of fraudulence.

Case 3: And using the toll-saver feature on my answering machine?  I'm
willing to pay for the call if I have messages; but if not, I'll save
the toll while still gaining information (that there's nothing on the

In all these cases, a message is being transmitted without the patrons
paying for the resources involved.  They are, in my mind, equally
fraudulent, though I think I've listed them in decreasing order of
perceived offensiveness.  Most people wouldn't bat an eye at the last,
and I've heard no public outcry from the phone companies.  In fact, AT&T
even produces some of these devices of deceit!

I'm not advocating the collect-call game, nor do purport to know the
state of its halachic validity.  But THE Phone Company has delivered the
message that its resources are available for certain freebies.  And one
could arguably extend the analogy that (Case 3: I am willing to pay when
I have messages) to (Case 2: I am at risk to pay if a child on the other
end picks up on Shabbos) to (Case 1: They may have important news and
pick up on the first ring) to (Case 0: They may have important news and
decide to renege on the deal and accept the charges -- paying, of

In short, I think the issue should be openly discussed with the phone
carriers to determine their thoughts.  Of course, any inconsistencies
discovered in their practices and preferences should be fleshed out.

-Don Gertler

From: Barak Greenfield <DocBJG@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 11:40:18 EST
Subject: Collect call game

Michael Kramer <mikek@...> refers (14 Feb 00) to an FCC order
permitting "callbacks" as a justification for playing the collect call
game.  The 1995 order to which Mr. Kramer refers pertains only to
internationally originated calls, where the foreign customer seeks to
take advantage of US outbound rates that are lower than those of his
home country (e.g. customer in India is essentially able to call England
through the US, at rates lower than calling directly from India).

More importantly, though, the FCC decision makes for fascinating reading
in light of the discussion on mail-jewish, and covers many of the same
issues that have been addressed here. It also raises others; for
example, what about using an answering machine that signals the caller,
by way of a different number of rings, as to whether or not there are
messages waiting (a device almost all of us use)? The FCC decision can
be found at

>  One respected Rabbi I know has
>  said publicly that I can make a copy of a tape for a friend if I think
>  he will enjoy the music. He will more likely become a fan of this artist
>  and buy the next tape that the artist releases. I think that this can
>  fall under the fair use category as well. 

17 USC chapter 1 sec 107 defines fair use as copying "for purposes such
as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple
copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research." It seems unlikely
that copying an entire tape and giving it to a friend would ever be
construed as fair use, and is illegal.

A previous poster quoted the California Penal Code as prohibiting the
collect call game, and other posters have requested citations from other
jurisdictions. In New York, it is the Penal Code (chapter 1030) art 165
sec 165.15, which prohibits the use of "any misrepresentation of fact
which he knows to be false, or...any other artifice, trick, deception,
code or device" for the purpose of avoiding payment for telephone

I suppose this may either clarify things or add fuel to the fire, but
either way, I hope it is helpful.

Barak Greenfield

From: Sam Gamoran <gamoran@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 09:48:10 +0200
Subject: Re: Collect call game

> 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?

A real baal-nefesh (who wants the coffee) would take it and then pay for
it when the employee returns.  You also then get a mitzvah of preventing
baal tashchit (needless destruction of a useful object - the coffee).

From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 13:45:08 +0200
Subject: Collect call game

David Charlap writes:

> 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
> time.

This sounds like the classic case of onaas dvarim (deceptive speech),
which, if I recall correctly, is prohibited unless you tell the dealer
at the outset that you have no intention of buying (at least on that

Carl M. Sherer
mailto:<cmsherer@...> or mailto:sherer@actcom.co.il
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son, Baruch Yosef ben
Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.

From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 01:27:26 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Collect call game

I congratulate Frank Silberman for bringing in fresh halachas to the
collect call game. Frank is correct that I have not yet answered his
objections. He is also correct in asserting that my current forumulation
of the permissability of the collect call game does NOT cover his cases.
Additionally the formulation of the collect call game, by the Moderator, 
Avi Feldblum, in his electronic request for psaks, differ from my

The new formulation is that business deception is permitted if
(a) there is a possibility (however remote) of a transaction, (b) no
false statements have been made **or** presupposed. However as already
pointed out I do have the right to hide my deceptions. Let us now review
this new formulation and see how it covers many cases.

If I call home and say I want to speak collect to Sarah then I have
explicitly implied that there is a possiblity that Sarah is there---
so the act is prohibited.

Similarly if I have arranged that when I call collect to speak to "My
mother, Mrs. Hendel" then the phone call should be refused but if I ask to
speak to "Mrs Hendel" then the phone call should be accepted---then again
I leave no possiblity for a sale and it is prohibited.

But if I call collect and ask to speak to Mrs Hendel then it is permissable
even though 99% of the time my Mother will refuse and call me back (and even
if it is a different company). For I have not lied but rather hidden the
fact that my mother **usually** refuses; furthermore there is a possibility
that if my mother is in a hurry (eg before shabbath) that she will accept
the collect charges.

David Charlap is 100% correct in his analogy--it is comparable to asking
about a product in a store (eg a car or computer)--this is permissable as
long as there is a remote possibility of buying it. Indeed a skilled
salesman can frequently get me to change my mind and buy.

On the other hand Frank is right that if I ask about buying a car and am
certain that I will not buy it that it is prohibited (I have violated the
laws of emotional anguish).

Similarly if a person asks for shoes made of properly slaughtered animals
and I give him shoes of improperly slaughtered animals then it is prohibited
since I have committed fraud.

To answer Frank, David and several other people---in the bean case
I have OMITTED the shells of the beans which contain the information about
the cookability of the beans; in fact I have done this maliciously so that
I can make a profit--it is permitted. Similarly in the collect call game
(according to my description) I have omitted the **fact** that my mother
usually refuses collect calls. In both cases there is no lying, no
implication of false facts, and the possiblity of buying. Hence it is
permitted even though I hide certain facts.

My point to Avi about Religious piety is as follows: The business world
as we know it requires hiding intentions---no business could survive if
all its strategies were public information. Therefore one can not call
hiding intentions which is necessary for ordinary business intercourse
to be a lack of piety.

Franks point about deception in business ethics is as follows---you cannot
lie in a business transaction even if the other person's request is 'silly'
(like wanting the leather of a ritually slaughtered animal). This is fraud.
Similarly you cannot tease people (act like you want to buy when you don't)
But you can hide intentions.

I hope this brings some clarity to this issue

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA; Math; Towson;
Moderator Rashi Is Simple


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 11:32:32 -0500
Subject: Re: Collect call game, copying software for a friend

Michael Kramer wrote:
>  1. Visiting a store to browse when I am planning to buy from a
>     different catalog or the Internet -

I have no problem with this scenario.

The one I described, however, is different.  I described a person who
goes into a store, gets the attention of a salesman, and then starts
asking all kinds of detailed questions about a product - before deciding
to buy elsewhere.

It's not a problem of browsing the store.  It's a problem of taking time
from a person who could have been using that time to talk with a paying
customer.  If the salesman works on commission, you may be taking real
money away from him.

Especially in my example of a car dealership.  In dealerships, the
salesmen rotate through customers.  When a customer walks in, he is met
by whichever salesman is "up" at the time.  Whether or not a sale is
made, that salesman won't be "up" until everyone else has met with a

By asking questions of a car instead of saying "just browsing", you are
destroying the salesperson's chance of earning anything for his "up".

>  2. The collect call game -
> ... They have done the calculation that by offering that call for
> free, they statistically make XX million dollars on callers that *do*
> accept the charges.

They are assuming that rejected collect calls are from legitimate
recpieints that simply don't want the call.  They are assuming that you
aren't lying to them when you place the call.

> Let's say that I rack up a truckload of free merchandise legally, and
> then I go to my own shop and sell it. Can the store complain that
> they were only giving out the merchadise for non-commercial use?
> Usually not. )

Actually, they can.  And sometimes they do.  That's why there is usually
fine-print saying "one promotional item per customer" or "not for
resale" on the items - to make sure that they win lawsuits against
individuals like that.

> b. Besides the legal self-advocacy argument, the same argument from
> the store browse case applies. I will eventually make a purchase from
> this phone company even if I use this call signal for free.

Not necessarily.  Next time you're around public pay phones, look at tht
labels and see what phone company services them.  A significant number
of pay phones are run by companies you've probably never heard of
before.  It's not like an using a phone run by the same company you have
providing your home service.

> My main point here is: if callback is legal to do commercially and
> for profit - why shouldn't collect call signal be legal for an
> individual???

Who said anything about illegal.  This isn't a California Law mailing
list.  This is a halacha mailing list.  What various US courts decide
has no bearing on the subject.

You are assuming that halacha would not be stricter than the US telecom
laws.  I don't see any basis for this assumption.

> 3. Copying tapes, software etc for private non-commercial use -
> Copyright law makes it illegal to copy a work - but the law
> explicitly allows "fair use" of the material ...

I don't think anybody said that backup copies were wrong.  As a matter
of fact, my message explicitly said that there shouldn't be any problem
with it, because the author is definitely not being deprived of any

But to take this a step further and assume that halacha is identical to
(or more lenient than) US copyright laws is an unwarranted assumption.

-- David


From: Best, Barry H <barry.h.best@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 14:15:15 -0500
Subject: RE: Masada and Suicide

	In response to Dov Frimer's post on Masada and halachic
proscription of suicide (MJ vol. 31 #60): I have read that there were
many instances during the crusades of mass suicide.  I don't remember
explicitly, but I believe that there were some gedolim (or at least
rabbonim) among them.  I wonder if Mr. (Rabbi?) Frimer addressed these
instances in his piece.


End of Volume 31 Issue 63