Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.

Fellow Weekly Newsletter - Issue 30 - Business Law and Ethics for the Shabbos Table
by Fellow Weekly Newsletter

  Rated by 4 users   |   Viewed 10511 times since 1/1/10   |   4 Comments
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend


Dear Readers:

We are happy to share with you Issue 30 of the “Fellow Weekly Newsletter,” an interactive project of the Fellow-Yesharim Foundation for Ethical Law, under the leadership of HaRav Yitzchak Berkovits. Designed to stimulate discussion and thought regarding matters of business law and ethics, the Newsletter presents real-life scenarios, for contemplation and debate. Hundreds of Shabbos Tables already benefit from these exciting conversations. “Fellow Weekly Newsletter”, as well as Fellow - Yesharim’s ongoing international educational ventures enjoy the endorsements of HaRav Yitzchak Berkovits, Rabbi Joseph Elias, Rabbi Menachem Nissel and Ben Brafman, Esq.

CASE 131

The sudden weather changes took a heavy toll on Jerry. He caught a bad case of the flu and was bedridden. His appetite was poor, and he had been subsisting on rice cakes and Sprite for about a week.

Jerry's friend Kevin came to pay him a visit, and see if there was anything he could do for his dear friend.

“Kevin,” asked Jerry, “would you mind going to Shoppers Express and picking me up a case of Sprite? I know that you are really busy, but I'll even pay you five dollars for your service.”

“Sure Jerry," replied Kevin, "I have no problem going a little out of my way and I'll be glad to pick a case up for you. I'll be back shortly.”

Twenty minutes later Kevin returns empty handed. “Jerry, I'm sorry but Shoppers Express was out of Sprite.”

Jerry reaches into his pocket to pay Kevin for his services.

Kevin stopped him, “Jerry, please don't pay me. First, I did not deliver the goods. More importantly, I came to see what I could do for you. I did not intend to charge you."

Jerry persisted, “You deserve payment for going back and forth to the store, irrespective of whether Shoppers Express had the soda in stock.”

Kevin was indeed a nice person. He fulfilled the mitzvah of caring for the ill [Bava Metzia 30b].

Theoretically, had Kevin wished to be paid for his service, would Jerry have been responsible to pay Kevin regardless of whether Kevin succeeded in procuring the soda?

If so, would Kevin deserve the full five dollars?

What is the law?

Please email us with your comments and answers at
Read next week's issue for the answer!


CASE 130: The Baffled Babysitter - Part 3: Sara's Hanukka Experience

The Hanukkah party that fifteen-year-old Sara threw for her Music Club was a real hit. Sara came home on a high, humming her favorite Hanukkah tunes. She went upstairs to her room, sat down at her desk and checked her phone messages.

“Wow! It seems as though I can earn some extra cash today!” she exclaimed. “I have a choice of four babysitting jobs tonight. I have a special liking to those Berman kids. I think I will choose the Bermans tonight. Besides, the Bermans are offering a four-hour job tonight! At eight dollars an hour, that is $32!”

The Bermans had a busy schedule that evening. Mr. Berman had a board meeting to attend and there was no knowing what time he would come back home. Mrs. Berman was putting the final touches on her community-wide Hanukkah extravaganza. She scheduled an important meeting with the program director, Mrs. Field.

Sara arrived after bath time, at six-thirty in the evening. Mrs. Berman told Sara that her meeting was scheduled to end at ten and that she would be home by ten-thirty. Mrs. Berman wished her good luck and left for the night.

That evening was uneventful. The kids went to sleep without a problem and Sara had time to review her music lessons.

At 7:45, there was a knock on the door – Mrs. Berman had returned much earlier than expected.

“Sara dear, I'm sorry that I am home already. Mrs. Field called me after I arrived at the Center and said that her children had fallen ill. She had to postpone the meeting until tomorrow morning.”

Mrs. Berman handed Sara ten dollars for the time that she had babysat.

“Mrs. Berman,” said Sara, “I feel bad for the Field children. However, do you understand that I turned down three three-hour babysitting opportunities tonight - in order to care for your children? By now it is too late for me to find other work and I missed out on making some decent money tonight. I would appreciate if you would pay me the thirty-two dollars that I was expecting for tonight.

Must Mrs. Berman compensate Sara for her lost wages that evening?

What is the law?

The Answer

We present you here with a concise ruling. For those interested in a more intricate elucidation, please see the “detailed explanation” below.

Mrs. Berman is responsible to pay Sara for four hours of work.

Detailed Explanation

Consider the following case of A hiring B for the day to water his field:

  • If A canceled the engagement after B can no longer find replacement work, A is liable to pay B for the day's work [Choshen Mishpat 333:2].
  • If a river overflowed unexpectedly precluding the need for B's work, A is absolved from paying B [Choshen Mishpat 334:1].
  • However, if A had reason to anticipate the river flooding while B remained clueless of the river's nature, A is liable to pay B for the day's work – providing that B can no longer find replacement work [Bava Metzia 76a; Choshen Mishpat 333:2].
  • We establish the exact amount of liability by determining how much B would honestly be willing to take for not having to actually work [ibid; Radva"z Vol. II, Responsa 793].

In other words:

  1. If an unforeseen circumstance which renders a job unnecessary occurs, an employer may cancel or terminate the work agreement, without liability.
  2. Similarly, if both the employer and employee had reason to anticipate a particular circumstance which would render the job unnecessary, the employer may cancel the agreement without liability.
  3. An employer's liability to pay for work the employee did not perform due to unforeseen circumstances is limited to when the employer alone had reason to suspect that the need for the job may be averted.
  4. The degree of liability (i.e. the amount the specific worker would honestly agree to take in order not to have to work) is subjective to both the nature of the job, the worker, and the worker's financial situation. For example, some workers would agree to take less money if it meant not having to work, while others would rather work hard and receive their full pay.

At face value, one might suggest that our case with Sara is comparable to the above. Assuming that Mrs. Berman had no reason to suspect that Mrs. Field's children would fall ill, she should be able to terminate Sara's job without liability.

However after closer scrutiny, a distinction can be observed:

When the river overflowed, the field could no longer benefit from B's work, as there was no longer a need for B's service. As the employer could not foresee such an occurrence more so than the employee, the employer is not liable to pay for work he did not receive.

In our case, however, the unexpected postponement of Mrs. Berman's meeting does not directly create a situation where Sara can no longer provide her service. Mrs. Berman hired Sara to babysit for four hours. Sara can still provide her service regardless of whether the meeting took place. Mrs. Berman could theoretically use the remaining time to run errands instead of sitting with Mrs. Field. The unexpected cancellation was not the only factor in the termination of Sara's employment. Mrs. Berman consciously chose not to use the time for other ventures, but instead, to terminate Sara's employment. As Sara could no longer find replacement work, Mrs. Berman must compensate her for the four hours.

As the children were sleeping by 7:15, Sara's work until 10:30 would not have called for too much effort. There is therefore no reason to assume that Sara would have accepted any less than her full eight dollars per hour in exchange for not having to work. Consequently, Mrs. Berman would have to compensate Sara her full $32.

Of course, Mrs. Berman can indemnify herself against this loss if she would spell out very clearly from the onset that the four-hour working engagement is contingent on the meeting taking place.

Similarly, if the accepted practice in their community was in Mrs. Berman's favor, then we would follow the local custom [Choshen Mishpat 331].

[Answered by Rabbi Eli Marberger - Lecturer, Fellow-Yesharim Research Center, Jerusalem]

Comments or questions? Have a case to submit? Please send us an email at

To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.

Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:              Rated by 4 users    (4 comments)
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)
There are no comments yet. Click above to write the first comment.
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.

Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593