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Fellow Weekly Newsletter - Issue 43 - Sited - Business Law and Ethics for the Shabbos Table

Publication: Fellow Weekly Newsletter

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Welcome to Fellow Weekly!

Encouraging intelligent and entertaining debate at your Shabbos table.

Fellow Weekly raises issues of business law and ethics through lively emails by featuring your real-life scenarios answered by our leading authorities and professional

CASE 144: Sited?

Sara Portman ran a popular family dentistry on East Main Street in Norfolk, Virginia. Sara was a compassionate woman who cared for her patients as though they were her own family members. Tragically, her husband Gil succumbed to a fatal illness three years before. At thirty-three, she still had a life full of opportunities ahead of her.

Sara's patient Rebecca Green was a community activist. At the helm of numerous ongoing volunteer ventures, Rebecca became familiar with Abe Katz, a considerate and passionate middle-aged CPA from Queens, N.Y. Rebecca thought that Abe and Sara could make a good match.

When Rebecca felt that her dentist was ready to move on, she contacted both Sara and Abe and suggested that they consider meeting each other.

Sara was seriously interested in meeting Abe. However, Abe was too busy at the time. April 15th was approaching and Abe had his plate full. Yet, he gave Rebecca his word that he would consider listening to her suggestion after tax season. All the while, Rebecca and Sara stayed in touch.

Two months later, Abe phoned Rebecca and expressed interest in pursuing her idea.

"By the way, would you mind reminding me of her name? " asked Abe.

"Sara Portman", replied Rebecca.

"Funny thing, we are actually seeing each other tomorrow night. I was impressed at what I saw about her on a matchmaking site. I contacted her and we decided to meet."

Half a year later, Sara Katz was moving part of her practice to Queens, N.Y.

- Does Rebecca receive remuneration?

- If she does receive remuneration, how much should she receive?

- Assuming matchmaking rates are generally higher in Queens than in Norfolk, how does Rebecca configure the value of her services?

What is the law?

[Based on a true story]

[Submitted by: Rabbi Avi Hess, Member - Fellow Yesharim Research Center]

Please email us with your comments and answers at

Read next week's issue for the answer!


CASE 143: No Kidding!

"It's clean up time. It's clean up time", sang Morah Helen Krieger with her twenty-five delightful preschoolers before the morning break.

Generally, Helen had a good handle on her four-year olds. Her young saplings would naturally gravitate to her charm and spunk. Keeping a momentum and order in the classroom was one of her strong points, which greatly enhanced her overall classroom management.

Today though, things seemed to be a little more challenging.

Shira and Dini were oblivious to all of the excitement around them. There they sat planted on the floor in the back of the doll corner for a half hour. With serious streaks across their cute little foreheads, their young imaginative minds carried them far over the rolling hills and across the rushing Mississippi, - miles away from their classroom in Seward Park, Seattle. In their own little world, they seemed to be wheeling and dealing and playing important roles in unfolding world events.

While the rest of the children continued cleaning up the toys, Helen tiptoed over to Shira and Dini's little world. It was not long before their little world became her big world... Shira and Dini were renting silver gowns and matching shoes for a wedding in New York.

Suddenly, Shira and Dini noticed Mrs. Krieger and turned to her with excitement in their eyes. Dini piped up. "Shira's mommy's brother Dani Lev and my mommy's sister Rina are getting married in New York..."

That night, Helen Krieger called up the two mommies and told them about the funny game that their children were playing that day.

In less than an hour, the two mommies were on the phone and off to work they went.

Four months later Shira and Dini cleaned up their toys and were off to rent silver gowns and matching shoes for the Lev wedding in New York.

- Who receives the matchmaker's remuneration?

What is the law?

[Based on a true story]

The Answer

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

No one.

Detailed Explanation

No Kidding! Implicates the following two laws.

• Generally, one is required to pay for receiving benefit from an unsolicited service that he or she would otherwise have willingly paid a third party to perform (See Issues 14, 19, 29, The Case of the Baffled Babysitter- Special Edition, 39, 40, 42).

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.Thus, as mentioned in Issue 42, a matchmaker receives remuneration as would any unsolicited service provider.

• However, (See Issue 40 for two more exceptions) if the benefactor initially performed the service gratis, he or she may no longer require the beneficiary to pay for the enjoyment received. There is no going back on a gift! [Choshen Mishpat 246: 17 Rema; 264:4 Rema]

Accordingly, unless otherwise specified, close family members typically broker matches for each other as a favor. Thus, the beneficiaries would be absolved for paying their relatives for the received benefits [ Pischei Teshuva, Even HoEzer 50]. Similarly, the beneficiaries are liable only to the provider who intended to provide them with a chargeable service.


Shira and Dini were playing a game amongst themselves. We can assume that the four-year old girls had no intention of providing a chargeable service for Dani and Rina. Thus, Dani and Rina Lev would be absolved from remunerating Shira and Dini for their grand idea.

Mrs. Krieger as well, merely relayed a cute story to the two mommies. She did not imagine that Shira and Dini's mommies would take the child talk seriously. Since she had no intention of providing Dani and Rina a chargeable service, Dani and Rina are absolved from remunerating her.

Similarly, Shira and Dini's mommies were close relatives to the bride and the groom. Unless otherwise specified, close relatives provide matchmaking services gratis. Hence, Dani and Rina would be absolved as well, from remunerating their sisters for their joint brokerage efforts.

[Answered by the Fellow-Yesharim Research Center]

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