Volume 48 Number 95
                    Produced: Wed Jul 13  5:34:06 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bigger aveyrah
         [Jeanette Friedman]
competition vs. protecting jobs
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Free Market and Hasagas Gvul
         [Robert Rubinoff]
Halacha and Business Competition
         [David Charlap]
Head Tefillin Placement
         [Abie Zayit]
Secular translation
         [David I. Cohen]
Sedra Balak
Treatment of a worker
         [Frank Silbermann]
Using non-Jewish Sources
         [Ben Katz]


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 08:39:14 EDT
Subject: Re: Bigger aveyrah

My source for one aveyrah being bigger than another is simple.  Hillel
said: Don't do anything to anyone you don't want them to do to you. The
rest is commentary.



From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 18:34:36 -0700
Subject: competition vs. protecting jobs

I have to disagree with those who say that the charity-hospital-driver
is sinning by taking business from a taxi-driver.  If someone is poor
enough to need a volunteer driver to the doctor, s/he is not going to
take a taxi as the alternative.  Far more likely is that s/he will skip
medical care and die sooner.

Also, as to the suggestion that the charity just hire a taxi--sometimes,
charities do this for convenience.  But, suppose someone has time and a
car, but no cash?  They should be able to donate/use their own property
and time as they see fit, especially in such a noble way.

As a teacher and tutor, this issue sometimes comes up in my own life.
First, if public schools give a good education, is that unfair to the
private schools that charge tuition?  Presumably the private schools
stay "in business" by offering something that people value enough to pay
for it.

Second, there are tutoring services that charge less than I would.  Do
these have an unfair impact on my business?  Maybe, but that's the free
market, and I would find it far more demeaning to have the rates
regulated or to have my services subsidized as though they weren't worth
buying for their actual price.  Let other people offer free/low-cost
tutoring if they want.  I believe (and have the customers to prove it)
that my services are worth their price.

The reality is that if a lot of people can/do provide a service for
free, it lowers the value in the market.  This may be the case with some
forms of writing/journalism in the modern world.  It used to be the case
for child-rearing and housework, but that is changing.  In fact,
daycares sometimes cost more than colleges nowadays.

Literacy used to be so limited and prized that only the top echelons of
people were able to read and write at all...I would not like to return
to those times.

Which is not to say that I endorse the Jewish newspaper in the original
story.  I have unfortunately witnessed that attitude many times ("accept
a lower salary because we're Jewish") and it is most upsetting.
Furthermore, there are periodic summaries of what kinds of benefits
(health insurance, retirement, maternity leave, etc.)  Jewish
organizations give their employees, and it is always a dismal selection
compared to nonJewish employers.  I think this is a big Chillul HaShem.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 11:03:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Free Market and Hasagas Gvul

> From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
> 16 years ago, the simultaenous opening of three kosher bakeries in
> Teaneck to serve one relatively small community, after an established
> kosher bakery had been there for six years forced the owner's family
> into bankruptcy. The amazing thing is that the bakery product was
> excellent, and 16 years later that tiny bakery, Phibbleberry's, is a
> legend.

I don't understand.  Did the new stores forcibly grab hold of the
customers, drag them in, and force them to buy?

If the existing store lost business, it must have been the case that
they were more expensive, lower quality, and/or less convenient, or in
some other way inferior to the new stores, at least in the perception of
enough people that they couldn't hold on to their customers.

So what you're suggesting is that by opening a store first,
Phibbleberry's should have had the right to force its customers to live
with a store they didn't like as much as the new stores.

There are situations where competition is unfair: e.g. if someone has
invented a new product or process then they are entitled to benefit from
their creativity, becasue they are providing something new that no-one
else could have (but that's what patents/trademarks/copyrights are for);
or if someone is selling at a loss to drive their less-well-capitalized
competitor out of business (but that's what anti-trust laws are for).
But to say that just because someone's business was opened first they
"own" the market is saying that the business can hold its customers as
prisoners, forcing them to buy there even if they would rather buy from
someone else.



From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 11:07:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Halacha and Business Competition

Yisrael & Batya Medad wrote:
> David Charlap wrote:
>> This sounds great and wonderful in theory.  In practice, this attitude
>> produces disastrous results.
>> For instance, when I first moved to the Washington DC area, there were
>> only three kosher restaurants in the region, and only one of them was
>> any good.  The local vaad wouldn't allow any other restaurants to open,
>> because they were afraid that it would drive the existing 3 out of
>> business.  So the community was forced to either never eat out, or wait
>> for a long time at the good restaurant, or eat lousy food.
>> Eventually, this attitude must have changed, because there are more
>> kosher restaurants now.  And, contrary to everybody's fears, none of the
>> original three went out of business.
>> So where do you draw the line between competition and "driving anyone
>> out of business"?
> It's not the same thing at all.  Did the new restaurants give away the
> food for free?
> the situation described is how someone is deprived of his parnasa,
> because someone else, even if it's from the best of intentions, is
> giving the service for free.  So why should someone pay if they can get
> the same service for free?  There goes the parnasa.

It's the exact situation.

Opening up a competing business (effectively breaking a monopoly), or
selling product for a lower price, or selling a better quality product,
or keeping better hours, can all serve to draw customers away from other
established businesses.

And from the point of view of those pre-established businesses, all can
be seen as "depriving his parnasa".

My question remains.  Where do we draw the line?

Does halacha mandate that the first person to open a business in a
town/city/state/region/country must be guaranteed a monopoly?  If my
business sells an inferior product, or is overpriced, or is open at
inconvenient hours, do I have the right to demand that nobody else
should ever be allowed to do better?

I know of some people who take this attitude to an extreme.  There are
some who say you aren't allowed to buy any food (even with O-U
certification) from a non-Jewish store, because it is depriving a Jew of
his parnassa.  I know of one person who says you can't even buy from a
Jewish store if it's non-local, for this same reason.

Is this really the attitude we want the entire world to live with?
Where all competition is outlawed and individual consumers are forbidden
from exercising any choices whatsoever, in order to try and make sure
local stores can't possibly go out of business?

-- David


From: <oliveoil@...> (Abie Zayit)
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 19:57:37 +0000
Subject: RE: Head Tefillin Placement

I have always wondered about head Tefillin placement, as there are many
photos of people in pre-war Europe (in Roman Vishniac type books) that
clearly have their Tefillin on their forehead.

Was this a "little known" halacha?

Abie Zayit


From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 12:29:18 -0400
Subject: Secular translation

I was privaleged to learn from Nechama Leibowitz who pounded into our
heads: "There is no such thing as "in other words" (Ayn oto davar
b'milim acherot)

Translation = commentary.

David I. Cohen


From: .cp. <chips@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 7:45:05 -0700
Subject: Sedra Balak

So after the incident with the angel, why did Billiam keep going on with
his mission?  It occured to me that the angel killed the donkey. Billiam
may have known the rule of 1 Angel - 1 Task.  Therefore Billiam figured
that the angel came not for himself, but to prevent the donkey from
going. Billiam then could think he was free and clear to proceed on.



From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 10:21:27 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Treatment of a worker

Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>:
> * The employer did not say "I know we agreed to more money but I'm
> afraid we don't have it. Would you be willing to work for less?" He said
> "We're a Jewish business so we don't make much money so please consider
> the difference between what you might make outside and what you are
> making here as tzedakah."

Is it even permitted to count the difference as tzedakah?

That is, _could_ it count towards once 10%? If a day school teacher
earned half of what a public school teacher earned, counting benefits,
one could claim to be giving 50% of ones income to tzedakah without
paying even a single penny.

Frank Silbermann	New Orleans, Louisiana		<fs@...>


From: <bkatz@...> (Ben Katz)
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 21:51:03 +0000
Subject: Re: Using non-Jewish Sources

I just recalled that Abravanel quotes from a nonJewish Bible expositor
in his Bible commentary - sometimes by name, other times not.  I am not
at home now, but there was a whole book published about this several
years ago by a Sephardi scholar at YU So, it probably doesn't matter how
frum the Christian was, Abravanel still read and quoted his comments on
the Torah :-)


End of Volume 48 Issue 95