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Festival Intermediate Days | חול המועד     Issue #:

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

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דבר האבד.pdf (1.25 mb)

Matchmaker, Matchmaker     Issue #: 041

Matchmaker, Matchmaker! Leah Steinberg from Glenhazel, Johannesburg was not getting younger.  F ...

Matchmaker, Matchmaker!

Leah Steinberg from Glenhazel, Johannesburg was not getting younger.  Finding the suitable match was like looking for a sugar granule in a hedge of thorns. She worked hard to keep a positive attitude throughout this difficult and seemingly endless period of her life.  Leah would capitalize on her quite moments alone to think of others in need, improve her character, and strengthen her faith.  From time to time, she would reflect on how much she accomplished over six years of dating.

It seems that the challenges of life had made her in to a much more thoughtful, stronger and refined person.  These precious moments would infuse her with courage to persevere and face her challenges with a smile and determination.

Leah's next-door neighbor, Kate Hellman, ran a free food pantry from her home on the corner of Mansion St. and Carron Rd. for the neighborhood's needy.

Aaron Berger from Percelia Estates would volunteer on Monday afternoons for Kate.  Aaron was a handsome able-bodied young man with a heart of gold.  Kate knew Leah well and thought that Aaron would be a great match for Leah.


On February 5, 2006, Leah received a phone call from Mrs. Hellman. "I have something I think that you would enjoy, waiting for you in my pantry. Please, Leah meet me in the garage next  Monday afternoon."

Aaron and Leah's dating experience was short lived. After three dates, both seemed uninterested in continuing. Life went back to normal.

Three years later, in the summer of 2009, Aaron decided to take a well-earned vacation to Israel. He bought an El Al ticket and counted the days for his visit to the Holy Land.

Aaron arrived at Johannesburg International Airport. He approached the El Al check in counter and asked for an aisle seat so as not to bother his neighbor should he need to stretch his legs. The flight attendant graciously offered Aaron the last available aisle seat.


Aaron boarded the plane, approached his seat and almost fainted.  Sitting right next to him was none other than Leah Steinberg.


Today, Aaron and Leah Berger instill their happy marriage with all the fine qualities they developed over the years.

* As their initial matchmaker; do the Bergers have any financial responsibilities  to remunerate  Kate Hellman for having first brokered their match or do we let bygones be bygones?


What is the Law?


The Answer

Aaron and Leah must remunerate Mrs. Hellman 1/3 of the matchmaker's going rate for initially having set them up, provided their original encounter played a role in their striking up serious conversation on the flight.

 Detailed Explanation

To answer "Matchmaker, Matchmaker", it is important for us to:

  1. A) Identify the basis of the time-honored custom to remunerate matchmakers for their work
  2. B) Configure the value of the service Mrs. Hellman may have provided
  3. C) Quantify the termination of the matchmaker's service.


  1. Identification:

Typically, a matchmaker brings the bride and groom together by

1) The respective parties requesting the matchmaker's services, or

2) The matchmaker suggesting a prospective match and offering to render his or her services.


Thus, a matchmaker, [Choshen Mishpat 185: 6, Pischei Teshuva, 185:10] like any broker [Biur HaGra ibid. 13] or sales agent, can provide one of two categories of service:

1) Solicited work, or

2) Unsolicited work


We have noted in previous issues [See Issues 14, 19, 29, The Case of the Baffled Babysitter- Special Edition, 39] that one is generally required to pay for receiving benefit from an unsolicited service that he or she would otherwise have willingly paid a third party to perform.[Choshen Mishpat 375:1 (Note: See Issue 40 for a list of exceptions)]


To this date, people willingly hire matchmakers to assist them in their quest; consequently, the bride and groom must remunerate a matchmaker who initiated his or her services, just as they would owe anyone who provided them unsolicited work for which they would have been willing to pay.


The amount due for receiving matchmaking services is, like all employment rates, subjective to the custom of the local society [Choshen Mishpat 333:1].

[In a society where it is not customary for people to willingly hire matchmakers, then no money can be demanded for providing the couple with unsolicited beneficial information.]


2. Configuration:


Like a real estate agent, the job of a matchmaker can be multifaceted:

1) To introduce the parties

2) To aid in negotiations

3) To ensure the prospective relationship materializes [Pischei Teshuva, 185: 10]


Should the relationship materialize, each facet performed, earns the matchmaker one third of the going rate [ibid.]


Again, the amount due for receiving matchmaking services is, like all employment rates, subjective to the custom of the local society [Choshen Mishpat 333:1].


3. Quantification:

Undoubtedly, a matchmaker provides information, which could be of value later, whether or not he or she is involved in brokering and/or actualizing the relationship. 

The question at hand is, "Are the prospective sides forever beholden to the initial information provider?"


The answer is one that demands a level of personal honesty.


If the prospective sides close the file, they owe nothing to the initial matchmaker even if they subsequently meet again.  If, however, they never fully closed the file, or else, the first encounter nevertheless enhances the second meeting, they owe the initial matchmaker his or her share for introducing them to each other.


A regulation of Prague, which became the accepted custom across the Jewish spectrum, was to award the initial matchmaker should the prospective sides have met again within the same year.


Within the same year, we can assume that the two parties consciously or subconsciously never really parted ways. Hence, the initial matchmaker deserves his or her due share.  However, once a year elapsed we can assume that both sides have parted ways seriously, and any subsequent relationship formed is independent of the initial matchmaker's efforts.


Nevertheless, as inferred above, if the prospective sides know within themselves that their original encounter enhanced their subsequent meeting, they would be responsible to their initial matchmaker even after a year has passed.



For all intents and purposes, Aaron and Leah forgot about each other after their first dating experience.  Three years passed until they chanced upon each other in the air.

Objectively, Mrs. Hellman's services terminated with no success. They therefore must remunerate Mrs. Hellman only if their original encounter played a role in striking up serious conversation on the flight.  Should it have played a role, the Berger's would be liable to pay Mrs. Hellman 1/3 of the going matchmaker's rate, for having introduced them to each other.

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.


Downtown Dentures & Rolex or Buick     Issue #: Special Class 01

Downtown Dentures Class Handout with Source Material Downtown Dentures Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (E ...

Downtown Dentures Class Handout with Source Material

Downtown Dentures

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is a test to examine the lining of the esophagus stomach, and first part of the small intestine. It is done with a small camera (flexible endoscope) that is inserted down the throat.

The patient receives a sedative and a painkiller. A local anesthetic may be sprayed into the mouth to prevent coughing or gagging when the endoscope is inserted. Dentures must be removed."

Grandma was sent home after the procedure, and her health slowly began to improve. However, the hospital sent her home without her dentures. The hospital verbally agreed to pay for new ones.

The family commissioned their dentist to begin constructing new ones; projecting to complete the job in a week in a half.

In the middle of the week, the hospital called Grandma's home and told her that her teeth were located in a nursing home, downtown. "The nurse inadvertently sent them home with another patient. You'll receive your old teeth in two days, but we refuse to pay for the construction of the new ones."


Who pays the dentist?

Rolex or Buick!

Few would imagine that the 1989 graduating class of Harvard Business School would develop into one of the most celebrated graduating classes of the era. As exemplary role models, who positively influenced both business and society; the class of 1989 already boasted numerous Alumni Achievement Awardees.

 Today's leading executives and activists were yesterday's determined neophytes. Brian Green, a leading executive of Morgan Stanley and an 1989 graduate, remembers his first interview and its aftermath. 

"Forever a genuine comrade, my fellow classmate Fred Bernstein, prayed hard that I would get the job.  A selfless young man - he would rejoice when his peers succeeded.

 Determined but equally nervous, I wished to make a striking impression... Fred looked me over and exclaimed, 'Brian, your presentation is great, but you will steal the show if you came in wearing a gold watch. Here, take my Rolex for the interview. I will be out of town for the next few days. Give it back to me when I return. 

Thank G-d I got the job. The supervisor told me that I made an outstanding impression and would begin my career in but one month's time.  I felt sincerely indebted to Bernstein.

Throughout my college tenure, I had been saving up for my first Buick. I was eager to make my purchase in time for my first job. Bernstein returned a week later, but to my misfortune, I could not locate the watch. As much as I searched through my belongings, the Rolex did not appear.

 My dream was dashed! Painfully, I dug into my purse, liquidated my savings and issued  to Bernstein two checks for $3000.

 Fred cashed the checks and purchased a similar model from Tourneau.

 As I cycled on my Schwinn each day to work, my mind soared back to my dream Buick.

 Four months later, when relocating to a new apartment, the Rolex appeared. "Eureka! My Buick may be a reality soon after all", I thought.  Excited to return the watch and reclaim my cash, I contacted Bernstein and told him, I'll be over in ten minutes...'Not so fast replied Fred..


Must Fred accept the watch and return Brian's cash?

May Brian appear to an interview wearing Fred's Rolex?


 What’s the Halacha?

Downtown Dentures

Downtown Dentures invokes the following laws:

1)      A paid trustee (shomer sachar) is liable for negligence, losses or theft which he/she could have prevented [Choshen Mishpat 303:2].


2)     "A depositor delivered jewelry to a trustee (shomer) for safekeeping. Upon the depositor’s return, the shomer fails to locate the jewelry. The court requires the shomer to compensate the depositor for the value of the jewelry. The shomer defaulted and the court mortgaged the shomer’s real-estate to the depositor. Subsequently, the shomer found the jewelry in his possession.


We deem the compensation a faux - pas (blunder) and the shomer retains the right to return the jewelry and retrieve his or her real-estate from the depositor" [Bava Metzia 35a, Choshen Mishpat 103: 11].


3)     Generally, once an employee begins the commissioned work, the employer may not cancel the job without compensating the employee. However, as a result of an unforeseeable happenstance, where the work serves no function, an employer may cancel the commissioned work midway. The employer though, is required to pay for the work that was performed [Choshen Mishpat 335: 2].


4)      If B crafted a product under commission from A, A must pay for the product regardless of whether he/she subsequently needs it (unless b can easily sell it to someone else) [Nesivos 333: 15].


5)     A verbally committed to meet B in court on a particular day.  B paid out money to get there. A was negligent and did not show.  A must compensate B for the reasonable and foreseeable expenditures he/she spent as a result of relying on A’s word [Choshen Mishpat §14: 5 Rema].



The hospital assumed the responsibilities of a paid trustee. They were negligent with the dentures and inadvertently sent them elsewhere. While they would be required to replace the dentures; subsequently returning the actual ones suffices.

Grandma commissioned the dentist to craft new dentures. The fact that she does not need them anymore is inconsequential. She would be required to pay the dentist for his work. (Parenthetically, having a spare pair of dentures is not uncommon. It is difficult to argue that making a second pair serves no function. )

Nonetheless, Grandma commissioned the dentist after responsibly relying on the hospital’s verbal commitment to pay.

As a result; says Dayan Chaim Kohn, the hospital becomes obligated to pay, even if the family would have decided to commission new ones regardless of the hospital’s promise.

The Answer: Downtown Dentures

Grandma must pay the dentist, but the hospital is required to pay Grandma.



The Halachos: Rolex or Buick

Rolex or Buick! implicates two distinct issues


v  Is Brian entitled to a recourse to reclaim his money?

v  Is Brian guilty of "stealing" the heart of his prospective supervisor?



Let us focus on each issue independently.

I. Is Brian entitled to a recourse to reclaim his money?

Introduction: Here is a quote from Britannica Encyclopedia (Mortgage Law).

"If the mortgagor failed to repay the debt by the time that was specified in the mortgage, the land became the mortgagee's absolutely....In the 16th and 17th centuries, however, the English equity courts intervened on the side of the mortgagor. Equity first gave the mortgagor a right to redeem the land by paying the amount that was owing, even after he had defaulted on the debt..."

Consider the following albeit different, yet similar Talmudic scenario.

"A depositor delivered jewelry to a shomer (custodian) for safekeeping. Upon the depositor’s  return, the shomer fails to locate the jewelry. The court requires the shomer to compensate the depositor for the value of the jewelry. The shomer defaulted and the court mortgaged the shomer ‘s real-estate to the depositor.  Subsequently, the shomer found the jewelry in his possession. We deem the compensation a faux - pas (blunder) and the shomer retains the right to redeem his or her real estate from the depositor." [Bava Metzia 35a, Choshen Mishpat 103: 11]

So, the progressiveness of sixteenth and seventeenth century English Equity courts, was in fact a rediscovery of sorts of a theory directly reflecting the age-old Talmudic concept.

"Although a debtor compensated the creditor with alternative means, he or she does not necessarily lose the right to reclaim the "alternative compensation" with due payment at a later date."

Now, while generally, Talmudic Law only obligates the creditor/ depositor  to comply with such compulsory recourse in an instance of faux - pas, and not in an instance of blatant default of payment, we will allow for history play out its course and see if Anglo-American Law progresses further in the direction it seems to be taking.


Must Fred accept the watch and return Brian's cash?


As a shomer, Brian was responsible to return the goods Fred deposited by him. Monetary compensation as a form of alternative compensation is due should Brian not produce the deposit. In our faux - pas situation, where Brian subsequently discovered the deposit amongst his belongings, he may return it to Fred and require Fred to return to him his cash.


The Answer:

Fred must accept the watch and return Brian's cash. Rolex or Buick? Buick!

II Is Brian guilty of "stealing" the heart of his prospective supervisor?

Background: 1. Deceiving any human being, or Geneivas Da’as, is a form of theft and is a biblical prohibition [Maseches Chulin 93b].

  1. Additionally, tricking any human being even without causing him or her a financial loss or damage is a rabbinical prohibition.

This includes garnering undeserved praise or feelings of gratitude through feigning a false impression of benevolence and virtue.


Just as one may not steal another's money one may not manipulate another's feelings of gratitude and steal his or her heart [Shulchan Aruch HaRav: Hilchos Ona'ah U'Genevah 11, 12].


Creating an atmosphere within which the victim is to blame for not thinking responsibly is not included in these prohibitions [Maseches Chulin 93b].


May Brian appear to an interview wearing Fred's Rolex?

While "dressing the part" clearly makes a striking impression, which might positively influence the outcome of an interview, it is widely accepted for a prospective candidate to groom himself or herself fashionably for such a meeting. A supervisor's responsibility is to appreciate that candidates portray themselves in a superior manner within reason of their means and see beyond the outside trimmings.

Consequently, sporting finer wear for an interview does not convey a false impression of the manner in which the candidate appears on a day-to-day basis.

Instead, the supervisor suffers the consequences of his or her failure to consider these factors accordingly.

Hence, as a Rolex was within reason of Brian's means, although he did not own one, he may appear to his interview sporting Fred's Rolex.

The Answer

Yes, if wearing it is “within his means”.

Timely Payments     Issue #: Textbook: Timely Payments

The Laws of Paying Your Workers On Time Timely Payments Textbook

The Laws of Paying Your Workers On Time

Timely Payments Textbook

Kenny's Kebab House     Issue #: 038

Kenny's Kebab House Kenny's Kosher Kebab House was a fast growing enterprise in the downtown busines ...

Kenny's Kebab House

Kenny's Kosher Kebab House was a fast growing enterprise in the downtown business district of Columbus, Ohio. The Kebab House boasted two large executive banquet rooms , numerous private dinettes, and a general eating area. The friendly ambiance, professional service, and mouth-watering carte du jour drew an impressive crowd of satisfied customers. Nevertheless, the restaurant would experience seasonal ups and downs.

With the arrival of mid-winter vacation, sixteen-year-old Bernie Stein took a job at the Kebab House to help his parents cover the bills, as they were experiencing financial difficulties. He was a hard and responsible worker and took his job seriously. Bernie was happy to be able to help his parents help him.

February 15th was payday and Bernie was looking forward to receive his hard-earned $500 paycheck. Dennis too was looking forward to take home his bimonthly check of $3,000.

Kenny, eager to pay his workers on time, spent the afternoon in his office balancing his books. Time was ticking and Kenny was up against the wall. He was out of meat and had to place a $5,000 meat order to be delivered before dinnertime. A $200 electric bill had to be paid. Dennis and Bernie were both expecting their paychecks, and additional $3500.

Kenny broke out in a sweat when he realized that he had but $3,000 available.

What should Kenny do?

What is the Law?


The Answer

If the meat distributor would accept a late payment, Kenny must first pay his employees. He should pay $500 to Bernie, $2500 to Dennis (see Detailed Explanation), and pay both the meat and the electrical bills a few days late.

However, Kenny is not required to risk forfeiting his business in order to pay his workers on time [Pischei Choshen 9:15]. Since a restaurant that goes without food for one night risks ruining its reputation, he may pay his workers late should the meat distributor only accept payment in full upon delivery (assuming he cannot responsibly borrow the money).


Detailed Explanation

In determining which debts to pay first, it is important to: (a) categorize each debt form; (b) Define the nature, scope, and limitations of each form s payment obligations; (c) Ascertain the correct sequence within each category; and (d) determine how a debtor divides limited funds amongst creditors of equal import.

Our case implicates the necessity to focus on (a), (b), and (d) (Case 139 may necessitate a focus on (c) as well).

Category A: Wages

Kenny owes earned wages to his employees, Bernie and Dennis. Paying them on time, Kenny fulfills a positive commandment and avoids transgressing five negative prohibitions and one negative rabbinic prohibition for each employee [Choshen Mishpat 339:2] (See Issue 36). He properly fulfills the positive commandment by paying each worker on time, in full [Ahavas Chessed 9:10; Nesiv Hachessed 28].

Kenny is required to pay his employees if funds are available [Choshen Mishpat 339: 10]. He is obligated to extend an effort to procure the funds [Tosafos Bava Kama 9a, 46a; Tosafos Bava Basra 92b], but is not required to incur a considerable loss to do so. If funds are unavailable, he does not transgress the prohibitions but still does not fulfill his positive obligation [Ahavas Chessed 9:7].

Category B: Purchases

Kenny owes the electric company for the electricity he used, as he purchased kilowatts of power from the electric company. This debt is much like a balance due for a sale.

Note: While any fixed monthly fees might be considered a rental and as such should theoretically fall under Category A [Choshen Mishpat 339:1], since there is a spread of days when payment is accepted, we view such a debt as having an alternative payment plan and would not be subject to the general stringencies of Timely Payments (See Issue 36).

Kenny will incur a similar form of debt when placing his meat order from the distributor.


Paychecks vs. Bills

Certainly, as in any debt, Kenny may not swindle or default, nor may he intentionally postpone available payment of any form of debts due [Leviticus 19:13; Ecclesiastes 3:28]. However, delaying payment of a worker s timely wages is a time sensitive issue, running the employer an additional risk of disregarding a positive commandment as well as transgressing many more negative prohibitions [Choshen Mishpat 339:2] (See Issue 36).

Hence, Category A objectively takes precedence over Category B. However, since an employer need not incur a considerable loss to pay an employee on time [Pischei Choshen 9:15], Category A takes precedence over Category B providing that delaying the meat or electricity payment will not incur considerable losses to the business.

Assuming the meat distributor would allow for a delayed payment and the loss for a late payment to the electric company is nominal, Kenny is required to pay his workers before the other two bills.

Bernie and Dennis

Both employees deserve to receive their payment on time. Thus, Kenny must divide his resources between all of his employees [Ahavas Chessed 9:8] (See Case 139 if one employee is needier than another [Ahavas Chessed 10: 8-11]).

A debtor must divide the limited resources equally among all creditors of equal importance [Choshen Mishpat 104: 10, Ahavas Chessed 9 Nesiv Hachessed 22].

Accordingly, as employee wages precede payment for received merchandise, Kenny must divide his limited funds equally among his employees. Hence, he allocates $1000 to Bernie and Dennis, paying them each an equal share of $500. Kenny is thus left with two thousand dollars, which he forwards directly to Dennis. Consequently, Bernie receives his $500 and Dennis a total of $2500, while the meat distributor and electric company must wait.


The Torah commands us to pay our employees on time:

An employee who finishes the job at night can expect payment by dawn [Leviticus 19:13].

An employee who finished the job during the day can expect payment before dusk [Deuteronomy 24:15].

This applies to rental fees as well [Choshen Mishpat 339:1].

Follow the next few weeks for an exciting series on "Timely Payments". [Choshen Mishpat 339]

About Project Fellow     Issue #: 000

Explore contemporary case studies via  the time-tested prisms of three thousand years of  ...

Explore contemporary case studies via  the time-tested prisms of three thousand years of  Jewish ethics and business law through our stimulating activities and guided modules.

Discover your timeless and deep-seated inner ethical barometer!


About Project Fellow

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Via progressive,  engaging, and interactive educational methods, PROJECT FELLOW  tackles our consistent and compounding ethical dilemmas and provides clear, practical and time-tested guidance.

Over the years, Project Fellow has sponsored:  multi-level award-winning curricula, seminars, webinars, lectures, Jewish outreach programs and material, publications, weekly emails, and a growing array of ethics awareness programs geared for the professional, classroom and family settings.

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