Volume 56 Number 13
                    Produced: Tue Dec 25 20:53:41 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Frum First Network (4)
         [Meir Shinnar, Carl Singer, Rise  Goldstein, Frank Silbermann]
The Frum Network
         [Chaim Shapiro]


From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 22:37:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Frum First Network

Joshua Goldmeier, on the basis of his experience as a frum retailer,
complained that many frum people deliberately boycott frum businesses,
and that frum first is needed to overcome this bias.  He says that many
even drive farther in order to avoid the frum businesses.

One wonders at the rationale for this - as he suggests that this
attitude is not merely going to the best (or cheapest) business - but a
deliberate avoidance.  Such deliberate avoidance is clearly problematic.
He is saying that the frum community is essentially using negative
stereotypes of frum businesses. However, the question is the origin of
these stereotypes - as the frum community should not be biased against
itself - and suggests that perhaps enough frum businesses in his area
may not be well run - or be afflicted with the illness of bishvili nivra
haolam rather than being customer oriented - to hurt the good
businesses. ..Perhaps a better solution than the Frum First, with its
inherent problems, is business education for the frum community....

Lastly, I appreciate that some (even many) people who advocate Frum
First do not share the negative orientation to gentiles as people-
although he admits that this attitude is becoming more prevalent, and he
has to protect his children from them.  However, the history of racially
and religiously oriented discrimination has been that they succeeded
because otherwise good people supported them for apparently benign
reasons - playing into the hands of the bigots - and this is no

Meir Shinnar

From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 22:48:13 -0500
Subject: Frum First Network

I want to go back to my original statement (although my doctorate is
over 30 years old and I should probably re-take the road test, or at
least the eye examine :) lest it expire ....)  My minor was applied
economics and I still do remember some fundamentals.

Whenever you make an purchasing decision on some non-economic factor you
pay a cost.  I remember once that a deli opened up across the street
from a very popular (and thriving) deli.  I tried the new store, the
owner / operator was a very nice old man -- frankly I had rachmonis as
he was clearly not doing well.

I made a decision against my own best economic interests (I could have
gotten a fresh sandwich / better product at the established store.)

Any time you choose to buy from someone for non-economic reasons you may
pay a price -- and that's your decision to make.

Although some "debaters" seem to have heated up the discussion with
mention of the Nazi's (yemach shmo v'zichrono) On a much calmer level
there are issues to be considered re: the splitting up of the
marketplace and the resultant (defacto) boycotts that impact those in
each market segment.  All leading to economic inefficiencies and costs.

A last question / discussion point I have is to what extent does this
need to be formalized (or is formalizing this even beneficial.)  When I
have a choice of merchants I take many factors into consideration --
quality, price, customer service .....  whether I choose to add in other
factors, be they individual traits of the provider (he's got a nice
personality and is friendly, she's an almaneh and it makes me feel good
to buy from her ... ) is a personal choice.  Do I need a list or
directory to help me make my purchasing decisions?

In Passaic where I currently live, the Yeshiva Ketana publishes a phone
book of all members of the community and this book has numerous
advertisements.  Many are from members of the community and / or deal
with "frum" services - -kosher bakery, sheitels, seforim, etc. -- others
are from people who may not be members of the community but,
nonetheless, serve the community with quality goods and services -- and
choose to advertise to this customer base.  Would a "frum first"
directory exclude non-Jewish vendors?


From: Rise  Goldstein <goldsteinrb@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 11:57:48 -0500
Subject: Frum First Network

As Chaim Shapiro and I have discussed privately, I have no problem with
giving business to frum purveyors of goods and services when doing so is
*appropriate*.  This doesn't, however, necessarily mean, "whenever

When might it *not* be appropriate, IMHO, to patronize frum businesses
or professionals?  As other posters have touched upon in their responses
to Mr.  Shapiro, some examples might involve cases in which the frum
merchant or service provider charges significantly more, or does work of
significantly poorer quality, than nonfrum purveyors of the same product
or service.  Similarly, other posters have noted the considerations of
lack of cleanliness (as in food markets), poor customer service, and
unreasonably long turnaround times (as in dry cleaning or repairs).
Though I could be missing something major here, I'm not aware that any
of us has a hiyyuv (obligation) to sacrifice quality, timeliness, or
value in our business dealings.

There are also circumstances in which consumers might understandably
feel trepidatious about exposing their personal lives to the scrutiny of
their coreligionists.  For example, a battered wife or ex-wife finds
herself in what she reasonably believes to be sakkanat nefashot (mortal
danger) from a violent husband or ex-husband, and must avail herself of
the (secular) courts to obtain a restraining order against the batterer.
Such a woman might well dread that a frum lawyer, more likely than one
from the secular world, would moralize to her about "shelom bayit"
(family harmony) or her obligation to be sufficiently obsequious and
submissive to the batterer that he wouldn't "need" to abuse her.  Sadly,
such mindsets, and resultant behaviors, though completely and
unconscionably wrong, occur among professionals in our ranks, as they do
(though possibly to a lesser degree) in mainstream secular society.
While rabbanim and frum legal and mental health professionals have come
a very long way toward dealing appropriately with these phenomena, there
is still much work to be done.

Similarly, someone who is involved in the pursuit of a marriage partner,
or who has family members who are or will be, might not want to
patronize frum health care providers for medical concerns that carry
stigma in the marriage market, lest these providers might take it upon
themselves to disclose clients' medical issues to shadchanim
(matchmakers), families of potential spouses, etc.  Granted, potential
spouses have an halachic prerogative to know these things, and affected
patients have the obligation to disclose, at a certain point in the
development of a relationship.  Nevertheless, providers have no business
taking upon themselves the prerogative of unconsented disclosure in most
instances.  I would also emphasize that, AFAIK, the vast majority would
not do anything of the sort, though some very well might; with few
exceptions, this would constitute a violation of U.S.  law.

Then there are merchants who are known, or strongly suspected, to engage
in illegal practices such as failure to pay taxes.  I have more than
once taken business elsewhere when a frum salesperson in a store first
refused my credit cards, then tried to refuse my check, and then,
reluctantly, agreed to accept only a check made out to "Cash."  There
could be other reasons, but the most likely one in the particular
contexts I experienced, for reasons I won't detail here, was to evade
the tax authorities.  Again, to their credit, many rabbanim have decried
such practices, but there are still business folk out there who think
it's OK to cheat.

Mr. Goldmeier asserted in his post on this thread that, if we take our
business outside the frum community, we should have good reasons for
doing so, because, one way or another, we will end up supporting our
coreligionists.  In the cases I've cited, and in others I could cite if
I wanted to take up more bandwidth, people may have very good reasons
for going elsewhere.  I don't pretend to know all the halachic ins and
outs of how to decide these issues and I recognize that many people
might take major exception to the assertions I've made herein.
Nevertheless, I respectfully suggest that the most appropriate stance
might be one of "dan lechaf zechut" (judging favorably, giving benefit
of doubt) regarding our coreligionists' judgments about where to take
their business.  Most likely, we don't know "the rest of the story."

Rise Goldstein (<goldsteinrb@...>)
Silver Spring, MD 

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 10:38:46 -0600
Subject: RE: Frum First Network

OK, so some people have argued that it is a bad idea to let frum
businessmen fail because gentile competitors are a tiny bit cheaper.
Others have argued that it is bad in the long run to abandon (and
thereby destroy) the business of a gentile who has a long track record
of sensitivity to the needs of the Jewish community -- just because a
frum competitor suddenly opened a shop.  They add that a strict rule to
buy from gentiles and non-frum only as a last resort invites symmetric
pro-goy policies that will hurt us worse than the pro-frum policies will
help.  Arguments that it is better to patronize a frum business than to
give the family tzadokah are countered by the fact that _sometimes_
giving tzedakah directly _is_ more efficient.

All of these seem like good arguments to me.  My practice, therefore, is
to throw a little more business towards frum businessmen than I
otherwise would have based on economic considerations alone.  In some
cases that might mean I give them all my business, but in other cases it
might mean "a little bit more than zero business."  That way, frum
people still have an incentive to offer good service (or to find an
occupation for which they are better suited); gentiles still have an
incentive to maintain good business relations with the Jewish community;
frum businessmen have a bit of an advantage with me to help offset the
obstacles of running a business while observing halacha; and my family
doesn't unduly suffer for the sake of people who are probably earning a
lot more money than I am anyway.

A reader might ask, "Well, that sounds good in principle, but unless I
completely rule out patronizing gentile businesses with frum competition
-- then how would I measure exactly how much extra consideration I
should give to the frum businesses?"  I would answer that, in life, one
cannot expect to codify the details of every moral decision.

Frank Silbermann


From: <ChaimShapiro@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 22:24:09 EST
Subject: The Frum Network

I would like to quote  John Godfrey Saxe's "The Blindmen and the

"And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!


So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!"

I am not sure what it is about the Frum Network that has stirred so many
passions.  For some reason, so many people have found their particular
pet peeve in my proposal.  And while I can see HOW a person can look at
a particular component of the Frum Network and level the kinds of
objections that have been raised, (most of which are, in proper context,
very good points), I humbly submit that if we step back we can clearly
see that an elephant is an elephant.

Chaim Shapiro


End of Volume 56 Issue 13