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Festival Intermediate Days | חול המועד     Issue #:

tzorech hamoed hachana.pdf (917.11 kb) דבר האבד.pdf (1.25 mb)

tzorech hamoed hachana.pdf (917.11 kb)

דבר האבד.pdf (1.25 mb)

Lip Liabilities: Verbal Abuse or Gossip!     Issue #: 128

Lip Liabilities: Verbal Abuse or Gossip! Many schools require the teacher to arrange for a substitu ...

Lip Liabilities: Verbal Abuse or Gossip!

Many schools require the teacher to arrange for a substitute, should the teacher need to take a leave of absence. 
R. Berger was an acclaimed and noteworthy educator in a prestigious Jerusalem girl’s seminary. As a world renown speaker and sought after inspirer, R. Berger would travel periodically around the globe on speaking tours. He customarily hired R. Adler to teach his classes while on leave. 
On Sunday January 29th, R. Berger emailed R. Adler and asked him to fill in for the two weeks of February 5th and February 12th.   Adler had an alternative option for the week of the fifth, but turned it down in favor of this two week employment. 

On Feb 1st, the principal’s neighbor told her that she is aware of a R. Cohn who is from the most dynamic teachers in the country. “Why don’t you hire R. Cohn to cover R. Berger’s classes? While R. Adler may be decent, I am sure that Cohn is far more effective. 
The principal agreed. He called R. Adler to tell him not to bother coming in. Too late to pursue the one week employment option, R. Adler was more than chagrined.



As a child Aviva suffered verbal abuse from her older sister which severely impaired her productivity as a teen. A caring teacher encouraged her to seek professional help.  

Must Mrs. Cohn, the principal, and/or R. Berger compensate R. Adler?  

Who pays for the therapy, Aviva, her teacher, or her sister?


What’s the Law?

The Answer:  

The principal must compensate R. Adler for one week of lost wages. Aviva’s sister must pay for the therapy (see detailed explanation). 

Detailed Explanation

Lip Liabilities invokes the following Halachos. 
1. Barring unforeseen/incontrollable circumstances, if A canceled a verbal employment engagement after B turned down alternative work, A is liable to pay B for his/her loss. 
2. However, if A cancelled before B began working or travelling to work, A is not required to pay for B’s dashed expectations. 
For example:   If 1) B did not turn down alternative employment and  2) did not lose the opportunity to seek out alternative work,  A is not required to compensate  [Choshen Mishpat 333:2, 334:1]. 
R. Berger had the right to hire the R. Adler and it is as though the principal hired him.  As such, if the substitute turned down employment as a result of the responsible party’s verbal commitment, and can no longer find alternative employment, the principal must pay for the week of wages the substitute turned down. 
The principal is absolved though, from compensating the substitute for the wages for the second week, which amount to no more than dashed expectations.



Verbal Abuse
3. One who physically harms his/her fellow must pay for damages and medical expenses incurred amongst other charges [Choshen Mishpat 420: 3, 13].
4. Intentional damage requires the aggressor to compensate the victim for the embarrassment suffered as well [Choshen Mishpat 420: 3, Sm"a ibid. 44, Choshen Mishpat 421: 1].
5. The authority to enforce the numerous charges depends upon the rank of the particular Beit Din. See Choshen Mishpat §1 for detailed discussion.
6. In lieu of medical expenses, even a lower ranking Beit Din retains the authority to compel the aggressor to appease the victim financially compensate him/her in accordance with their evaluation [Choshen Mishpat §1:2 Rema].
7. Verbally abusing a victim who is unable to protect him/herself [See Choshen Mishpat 420:32]  from becoming emotionally scarred whereby resulting in the victim’s compromised productivity is viewed in the eyes of Dayanim  as a clear present and visible damage for which the aggressor should pay.  
8. The medical expenses would be the cost of therapy. However, Beit Din will assess how much the therapy should cost and levy a one time fee, rather than send a bill after every visit.
As Aviva was unable to protect herself from the verbal abuse to which her sister subjected her, Aviva’s sister is required to pay for her therapy.


Dayan Chaim Kohn, Dayan K’hal Adath Yeshurn NYC, Gerrer Shtiebel Flatbush, Dean of Business Halacha Institute

It's A Boy     Issue #: 096

  Its a Boy!     Mrs. Greenfield hired Doula Fried, to assist her in delivering her n ...


Its a Boy!



Mrs. Greenfield hired Doula Fried, to assist her in delivering her newborn. Early, Tuesday morning, Mrs. Greenfield sensed that the awaited time was imminently approaching. In general though, Mrs. Greenfield upheld a history of elongated ordeals.

In contact throughout the morning with Duola Fried; she was assured that history was repeating itself and time was on her side. The thought of hours of work simply tired her out. ...when suddenly her room was filled with the delightful charm of promising life. Doula Fried missed the birth!

Is Mrs. Greenfield required to pay Duola Fried?

What is the Law?

The Answer

Unless Duola Fried has a specific policy, Mrs. Greenfield is exempt from paying Fried (see detailed explanation).


Detailed Explanation




Mrs. Greenfield hired Duola Fried to perform a service. Although Duolas often provide guidance to their clients far before rendering the actual service, Duolas generally charge only for aiding the delivery. In Mrs. Greenfield's case, Duola Fried did not even begin providing her "chargeable" services nor did she begin traveling to the "work site". Secondly, there is a calculated risk in the field, that the Duola may well miss the birth.




It's a Boy implicates the following four laws.

1. An employer who irresponsibly cancels the post after a laborer either turned down alternative work (and can no longer find replacement work) or else, began working or traveling to the job site (even if he/she did not turn down alternative employment) is required to compensate the laborer for the wages he/she expected to earn [Choshen Mishpat 333: 2; 334:1].

2. An employee who prefers to earn reduced wages and remain idle, rather than work hard and earn more, can only claim that "reduced fair" from the employer [Choshen Mishpat 333: 2; 334:1].  

3. When new circumstances render the job unnecessary, an employer is absolved from compensating a laborer for services not received, if the laborer could have responsibly foreseen  such occurrences [Choshen Mishpat 334: 1].

4. An employer who must cancel the post due to unexpected circumstances need not pay for services not received (though must reimburse him/her for expenditures invested by the employee en route to the work site) [Nesivos Hamishpat 333:5].  


Doula Fried did not invest expenditures, begin traveling, or begin rendering services. Most of all, Doula could have foreseen the eventuality of missing the birth. Mrs. Greenfield is absolved from paying her for her services unless there is a predetermined protocol for such eventualities.


Of Spectacles and Sofas     Issue #: 095

Of Spectacles and Sofas     Spectacles: Her shopping cart piled high with groceries galore ...

Of Spectacles and Sofas



Spectacles: Her shopping cart piled high with groceries galore, Mrs. Else Wagner slowly edged her way through the Wednesday afternoon mayhem in Sandor's Supermarket with her charming great-grandson Marty at her side. Her energetic and positive demeanor served as a remarkable lesson for little Marty.

All of a sudden, a clique of hyperactive teenagers came barging in to the store while tossing their basketballs to and fro. Caught between the crossfire, Marty's inimitable glasses were knocked off his face and came crashing down to the floor splitting in two.

Marty's Mom had obtained his blue glasses two years ago at a 50% off sale and paid $50 for them. Though the prescription was still good, the frames by now bore witness to two years of football in the playground. Nonetheless, Mom had no intention of replacing them anytime in the near future. Yet, by now the market for glasses had sharply increased and he cost of replacing them would run about $300.

How much should the teenager who threw the ball pay?





Sofa: Carry's designer sofa was one of a kind. She purchased it for $1500 at The Furniture Fellows in Bergen County and brought the sofa from America on her lift to Beit Shemesh, Israel. Spring cleaning in the air, Carry hired Simon The Sofa Sweeper to clean her couch. Sofa Sweepers brought down their equipment and dutifully tended to the job at hand.

Looking over their work as they were readying to leave, Simon became horrified! Across the seat were black streaks! The color of the material had run. Looking on the bottom of the couch, Simon detected a warning notice with the words, "Do not use water."

Carry was far from excited. "Please remove this couch immediately and replace it with one exactly the same." Simon researched for the couch and found only one store in Haifa which sold that couch...but for 15,000 NIS (equivalent to roughly $4,451).

What does Simon owe Carry?



What is the Law?

The Answer

Of Spectacles and Sofas implicates the following laws.

1.      An article's value is figured at its fare local and present market value irrespective of the initial purchase price [Mishna 6:5, Tosefta 4:3 Maseches Erachin].

2.      Unless local custom differs (e.g. insurance policies), damages of used items are assessed by the depreciation of the entire article [Minchas Yitzchak 3: Responsa 126]. When the damage is normally repaired, the damage value is the cost of the repair [Chazon Ish: Maseches: Bava Kama 6:3].

 3.      Used personal objects often lack a market value (i.e. people do not buy used  spectacles).  How do we figure damage  assessment?   Jewish Courts consider the market value at purchase time,  and subtract a percentage per year of usage, while attributing a higher percentage to the earlier years of usage. For argument's sake; a new pair of glasses are valued at $325. If the owner would generally wear them for three years, at the end of a year; the glasses might depreciate $125 and $100 each subsequent year [Imrei Yaakov: Nezikin 8].



Although, the used  glasses have no market value; Jewish courts would ignore the replacement value and rather consider the pair's purchase value (not sale price) and subtract a percentage per year used,

If in Israel, the sofa sells for 15,000NIS, ($4,450) new; the damage assessment for this sofa will be based upon the value in Israel.

Seem Stressed or Seamstress?     Issue #: 094

  Seem Stressed or Seamstress?   Aviva purchased a dress for $50.00 which needed alteratio ...


Seem Stressed or Seamstress?


Aviva purchased a dress for $50.00 which needed alterations. She took it to Mrs. Adler the local seamstress. Mrs. Adler altered the dress appropriately and Aviva wore it twice thereafter.

Subsequently, Aviva realized that she needed the dress to be let out by the seams. She purchased material for $14.00 and returned to Mrs. Adler one Tuesday.

Aviva explained to her that she needed the dress on Thursday of that week, as she wanted to wear it for an occasion out of town on Sunday night (her engagement party). Aviva described to her exactly what she wanted done to the dress and how she wanted it to look. She asked her not to add any flares but to make sure that the dress was straight. The two agreed on a price ($85.00) and Mrs. Adler gave her word that although it would be a difficult task, she would have it ready for Thursday.

Aviva called Mrs. Adler on Thursday afternoon to see if it was a good time to pick up the dress. Mrs. Adler responded that quite frankly it would be an unfruitful excursion on Aviva's part as she had not started working on it.

Aviva was outraged! She reminded Mrs. Adler that they agreed that she would have it ready for her by Thursday because she needed it for an event...

Mrs. Adler apologized but reassured Aviva that she can have it ready for Sunday noon, and that she should stop by on Friday to try on the dress.

Aviva came in on Friday intending to try on the dress.

Horrified was an understatement!

The seamstress had cut the dress to add the material, but she had not followed Aviva's directives! She added three flares instead of making it straight. And the was atrocious!

To make things better, Mrs. Adler was not in. Her worker was there in her stead. Aviva told her worker that the repair was not what she asked for and that she would never wear the dress like this. "Something has to be done." Aviva pinched the excess material and told her "I want this out!" The worker shook her head and responded that she will try her best to fix what she can and that Aviva should come back on Sunday morning.

Aviva returned to Mrs. Adler with her Mom on Sunday morning to try on the dress. It was still far from Aviva's liking. It was not straight, and it looked like patch work...but nothing more could be done..

Aviva was minus the material she bought and minus the dress- "It is absolutely not wearable like this", complained Aviva and her Mom.

Mrs. Adler told Aviva that the dress looked beautiful on her, handed Aviva the altered dress and told her that she would have to charge her an additional thirty dollars because she had to pay her worker extra for staying longer and working on the dress.

"What audacity!" Aviva adamantly refused to pay her an extra thirty and even wondered whether she should pay her at all.


She set forth four arguments.

1) They agreed upon an $85 cost in the beginning,

2) The worker only put in extra work because things were not done right the first time,

3) The style of the alterations were not what Aviva had requested and

4) Mrs. Adler did not have the dress ready on Thursday as originally promised. 




1) Was Aviva obligated to pay her the $85 for the work that was done, even though it was not what we agreed she would do, and it was not ready in time?

2) Is Mrs. Adler responsible to pay Aviva back for the material that she bought to add to the dress? ($14.00)

3) Is Mrs. Adler responsible to pay for part of the cost of the dress since she rendered it not wearable anymore? 



What is the Law?



The Answer


As Mrs. Adler ruined the dress, Aviva is absolved from paying the initial $85 as well as the additional thirty. Mrs. Adler must pay for the material and the value of the used dress. 


Detailed Explanation


We may divide this episode into two different phases. 1) from Tuesday till Friday 2) from Friday till Sunday.


Phase 1: Tuesday till Friday: $85, $14, Dress Value

Aviva requested the dress repaired without flares and that the job should be completed by Thursday.  Mrs. Adler failed on two accounts. She did not complete the job at the prescribed time and ruined the dress by adding flares instead of making the dress straight.


A service provider who is tardy is guilty of causing anguish to his/her customer.  Nevertheless, while tardiness gives the customer a right to have hard feelings against the service provider, tardiness alone does not warrant  withholding payment, so long as the service remains beneficial. Generally, a dress retains the same value whether or not it was ready at the prescribed time. (Parenthetically, there comes a point in time when tardiness is above and beyond the norm that the customer may rescind on the transaction.)


However, payment may be withheld when the service provider ruins the merchandise.  A used dress is hardly worth anything to anyone other than to the initial owner.  If the dress is not to the owner's liking anymore, it becomes virtually valueless. Thus, Mrs. Adler ruined the dress.  As such, Aviva would be absolved from paying for the addition of the flares.


Similarly, as Mrs. Adler ruined the dress, she is required to compensate Aviva for the material as well as for the value of such a dress which had already been worn twice beforehand. 


Phase 2: Friday till Sunday: Additional work

If on Friday, Aviva would have agreed that if they fix it up she would accept it, even though it was already obvious that they couldn't make it 100% as she was hoping for, (it already had flares and it was not going to become 100% straight anymore) and they claim that they did make it acceptable then there is room for discussion, and the other side's story has to be heard also.


However, Aviva was quite clear what she wanted. She wanted it straight. If it was impossible to do, the seamstress should have been upfront with her. An attempt to make it "acceptable" would not warrant payment for an unsolicited job from which the customer has no benefit. Thus, Aviva is absolved from paying for the additional service rendered.