Volume 56 Number 18
                    Produced: Mon Dec 31 17:38:36 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Characteristics of Frum businesses
         [Carl Singer]
Frum First - An Israeli Perspective
         [David Curwin]
Frum First Network
         [Chana Luntz]
Frum Network in Israel
         [Stu Pilichowski]


From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2007 06:45:06 -0500
Subject: Characteristics of Frum businesses

I'm intrigued by various statements about frum businesses:

In a previous post we have someone who states that a (named) 2nd party,
a frum business owner, claims to be discriminated against by other frum
Jews because he is frum.

We have various claims and counterclaims that frum businesses are / are
not run well / run poorly.

Does anyone seriously think that any of this really holds water?

Generically (I can't speak of the named parties) does an individual
business owner feel discriminated against (for what ever basis -- frum,
gentile, hasidic) because, perhaps, it's a convenient rationalization
for why people don't do business with him/her?

The "frum" modifier to the word "business" doesn't have any consistent
characteristics.  There are individual proprietors / companies who
happen to be frum and they, in turn, may be good / bad businessmen, good
/ bad at relationship building, merchandising, running a business and
they may be honest / erlach (one might normally associate this with
being frum) or dishonest (and one can find myriad excuses to wit they
only appear to be frum, (low) community standards, personality flaws,

I will mention one name, Sam Back, ztl.  -- Sam was a car mechanic.  An
erlach yid.  When Sam quoted you a price as often as not the final price
was LESS than his quote.  And the community recognized his honesty!  I
happened to be dinner chair over 20 years ago when the Philadelphia
Yeshiva honored him.  I don't recall if there were any other observant
car mechanics in town -- but if they were, and if business was slow, I
imagine they felt discriminated against.



From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2007 20:53:37 +0200
Subject: Frum First - An Israeli Perspective

I've been following the discussion about the "Frum First" issue, but
feel somewhat disconnected from it, and I think that perhaps that's
because I live in Israel.

But maybe a couple of questions from an Israeli perspective can shed
some light on the issue at large.

A) How exactly can you tell if someone is "frum"? I assume you mean
"Shomer Mitzvot", and that's hard to tell just by someone's clothing or
the size or presence of their headcovering. What about a bareheaded Jew
who keeps shabbat? Or one who "looks the part", but ignores the mitzvot
bein adam lechavero? Who is "frum"?

B) I'm somewhat skeptical that the concept of "Aniyei Irecha Kodem"
applies to Orthodox over non-Orthodox. I thought it applies to all the
Jews of a locality. But lets say it does apply to a community, as
defined by, I suppose, synagogue membership. In that case, would
"Ashkenazi First" be just as acceptable as "Frum First"? And if you're
uncomfortable with one form of discrimination - why not the other?



From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2007 00:01:43 -0000
Subject: Frum First Network

 Carl Singer writes:

> 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.

I have no quibble with your statement of economics.  There is no
question that, in economic terms, you pay a price.

One of the things however that is very striking to anybody with a
modicum of knowledge about modern economic theory is, when you work your
way through Baba Metzia, the extent to which Chazal and the Torah
deviate from such theory - everything from price fixing of staples,
questions on onah etc.  Some of the positions taken might well seem, in
the light of economic theory, to be counterproductive and no doubt there
is much to be written on these.  But I confess that the case under
discussion here seems a lot more obvious than many.

To go back to your original post, your example regarding the potato
chips seems rather different, because there all you are doing is
supporting somebody who is a big baal tzedaka, and you could go to him
directly and give him money to distribute, if you felt that he was
better at the distribution than you.  But here we are talking about
allowing somebody to "earn a living" rather than have to take tzedaka,
and even leaving aside the Rambam's formal position that giving somebody
a job is a higher form of tzedaka than just giving, it is not hard to
arrive at the understanding that allowing somebody to feel like they are
earning a living allows them a level of dignity that the giving of
tzedaka directly fails to do.  And so it is not so hard to understand
that the achievement of that dignity level might well be deemed worth
the paying of the cost.

Where I do quibble, however, is with your statement that it is "your
decision to make".  Not entirely, despite the fact that the various
meforshim who have discussed the matter over the centuries indeed come
up with something not that dissimilar.  But there are important albeit
subtle distinctions, and at least on a halachic list, I would have
expected perhaps a bit more halachic analysis, at least as a basis for
any further commentary.  Nobody on this list would dream of discussing
as the fundamental deciding factor, the economic cost of shabbas.  Nor
is the social cost of shabbas negigible, although it may be offset.  But
most would be reasonably unhappy with a statement that "it is your
decision to make" whether the economic or social cost of shabbas is
worth it.Now the halacha regarding purchasing decisions is not the same
as the halacha in relation to shabbas.  But one does need to know to
what extent it is and it isn't before one can even begin to make such

In any event, I think that perhaps we need a little bit more cited
halacha so that we know what we are working with.

The first point to make is that the particular question that you are
discussing - ie whether one is obligated to buy a product from a Jew (or
frum Jew) when the same product is available cheaper elsewhere, does not
appear to be dealt with explicitly in the gemora, although as has been
cited on this list, Rashi in parshas Behar (Vayikra 25:14) quotes the
Sifra as saying "from where do you know that if you sell, sell to a Jew
your friend as it states (25:14) "v'chi timkoru mimkor l'amitecha" and
from where do you know that if you buy buy from a Jew your friend as it
states "kano m'yad amitecha"".

This question is however the subject of a Teshuva of the Rema in which
he was asked about a product that was being sold both by haRam m'padua
and a non Jew, and he forbad (assured) the purchase from the non Jew
when the product could be bought from the Rav albeit for more.  And he
did so inter alia the basis of this Toras Cohanim (sifra), and he argues
that the Torat Cohanim was talking about a case even where the product
is more expensive from the Jew on the basis of the pasuk dealing with
what to do with a treif animal, where we are told either to give it to
the ger toshav (a non Jew who has accepted upon himself the seven
noachide laws and taken on the status of a ger toshav and who we have an
obligation to support in the same way that we do a Jew) or to sell it to
the [idolatorous] non Jew - where the giving is regarded as preferable
even though there is a loss of profit if it is given away and not sold.

Now this teshuvas haRema is the subject of quite extensive discussion in
the achronim (see for example the summary given by the Sde Chemed in
chelek 4 mareches mem klal 223 - p313).  And the subject of their
discussion is, in essence, "how much is too much" - ie how much more
expensive is it allowed to be, it being taken as a given almost, that if
there is a major price differential, then it is permitted to buy from
the non Jew.  And the consensus seems to be that it is only if it is a
"dvar muat" [ie a small amount] then one required to buy from the Jew.
Of course that then begs the question as to what is a dvar muat - which
probably differs in different circumstances (a small amount to a rich
man is a lot bigger than a small amount to a poor man - which is where
we seem to get in to personal decisions about the economic cost).

However, while the particular case of buying and selling is not
discussed in the gemora, a somewhat similar case of "frum first" is, and
it is one that is then referred to by various of these achronim in the
buying and selling discussion.  The case in the gemora is the giving of
a loan and can be found at Baba Metzia 71a. The section begins by
quoting the pasuk: "when you lend money to my people to the poor who is
with you" (Shmos 22:24), and then explains: my people and a non Jew my
people comes first; a rich man and a poor man, the rich man comes first,
your poor [Rashi explains, those that are relatives or from your
family], and the poor of your city, your poor come first; the poor of
your city and the poor of another city, the poor of your city come
first.  The master then says "my people and a non Jew, my people come
first", this is obvious [pshita]. Rav Nachman said that Rav Huna said
this is not necessary except that it is even [in the case of a loan] to
the non Jew with interest and to the Jew for free.

That is, at least in the case of granting a loan, the opportunity cost
of gaining some interest is to be sacrificed in order to give a free
loan to a Jew.  Note however that the meforshim then go on to explain
that this is only when lending is not the person's livelihood.  If it is
their livelihood, then if they gave free loans to Jews all the time,
they would never lend to non Jews and get the interest on which they
live.  In such a case, then they are permitted to earn their living
lending to non Jews with interest and not lending to Jews.  Again
therefore, we are getting into a not dissimilar discussion regarding
"how much is too much" .

Another case, tackling the question from a completely different angle,
and which is usually dealt with as an aspect of kashrus, arises in the
case of "pas akum" or non Jewish bread.  Where [to put it over simply
perhaps] the halacha is that one is forbidden to buy bread baked by a
non Jew if there is equivalent bread available from a Jew.  However, if
there is no pas yisroel [bread baked by a Jew] available, or even if
there is, but it is of inferior quality or a different and less
preferable kind, then pas akum may be purchased and eaten.  Again this
halacha might be deemed a kind of "frum first" - but not "frum only"
(whereas the situation with wine, for example, is clearly a case of
"frum only".  If there is no wine manufactured by a frum person
available, then you have to go without wine).

Note by the way that while I have characterised all these cases as forms
of "frum first", you might point out that the actual sources talk in
most cases about Jews and non Jews (and in some cases particular kinds
of non Jews, ie non Jews who do not fall within the category of a ger
toshav).  However, I would also note that the Chatam Sofer, in his
teshuvos Choshen Mishpat siman 134 (at the end if you are looking for
it) states that this obligation to buy first from a Jew does not apply
to a mumar [heretic] but only to a person who is amecha b'mitzvos [your
people in the performance of mitzvos].  Of course this is all based on
the same drasha of amecha which gets us potentially into the tinuk
shenisba [child who was taken captive] discussion regarding the status
of most non religious Jews today, and whether they are or are not to be
deemed "amcha" in these sorts of contexts (something that we have
discussed before on this list).

So how you want to square all these cases with economic theory, or for
that matter boycott risk or other social concerns may be a matter for
debate.  But I do think it important, as a primary matter, to appreciate
how steeped our halachic literature is with "frum first" concepts (not
to mention family first and your local city first - there are halachos
that to our mind entrench nepotism based on the family first principle
that is completely at odds with Western society's attitudes to, say, a
son taking over his father's job).  On a halachic list, surely we should
expect no less.

Kind Regards


From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2007 10:49:12 +0000
Subject: Frum Network in Israel

I like to think the more interaction I, as a "normal" dati leumi fellow
in Israel has with the not-yet- observant population the better are the
chances they will see religion isn't a bunch of out-dated, superstitious
laws relevant only to Biblical times.

So I frequent plenty of open-on-shabbat businesses and am proud to say I
have a great relationship with most of the working people there.

They love receiving Mishloach Manot on Purim, honey on Rosh Hashana, etc
etc; as do the residents of my apartment building - mostly "chiloni"
enjoy decorating and visiting my sukkah.

A little love and outreach goes a long way. You don't need Aish Hatorah
or Ohr Sameach necessarily. One on one with your neighbors is the best.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


End of Volume 56 Issue 18