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Fellow Weekly Newsletter - Issue 54 - Hebrew Friends of Israel and the World Cup - Business Law and Ethics for the Shabbos Table

Publication: Fellow Weekly Newsletter

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11/19/10

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 professionals.

To join this mailing list, please send an email to weekly@projectfellow.org with the word subscribe in the subject line.

CASE 154: Hebrew Friends of Israel & The World Cup

The Johannesburg Congregation Hebrew Friends of Israel was renowned for their good heartedness and international philanthropy. Inspired by their venerable Rabbi Adams, the synagogue board would pursue innumerable worthy causes. They ensured that avid attention was given to causes close to home, the furtherance of Jewish education and continuity and to their struggling brethren of Israel. Then they would reach out and lend vital assistance to the poor and needy throughout the World.

On June 19, 2010, Rabbi Adams read the following article to his congregants.

"As with many 'hallmark events' throughout the world, the 2010 FIFA World Cup has been connected to evictions, which many claim are meant to 'beautify the city', impress visiting tourists, and hide shack dwellers.

Preparations for the World Cup includes the forced eviction of the residents of N2 Gateway housing project in Cape Town, remove over 20,000 residents from the Joe Slovo Informal Settlement along the busy N2 Freeway and build rental flats and bond-houses in its place in time for the 2010 World Cup. The residents would be forced to move to the poverty-stricken Delft Township on the outskirts of the city and out of sight from the N2 Freeway. Similarly, the KwaZulu-Natal government ordered their Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act, meant to eliminate slums in South Africa and put homeless shack dwellers in transit camps in time for the 2010 World Cup."

Rabbi Adams wondered aloud where justice and the voice of human and animal rights activists had gone.

At six o'clock on Sunday evening of July 11, the congregation gathered in the Synagogue yard for a cocktail party to bid farewell to their beloved President Al Werner who decided to retire and move to Jerusalem.

The yard emptied out at 8 PM. Secretary Dr. Shoen then shook Werner's hand when suddenly something caught the Doctor's eyes. On the ground lay a colorful Zakumi. He bent down to pick it up and then took a double take.

It was a CAT 1 World Cup 2010 - Final Ticket Soccer City Stadium

Johannesburg, South Africa Sunday 8:30 P.M. - $6995!

Tomorrow this ticket would be worth no more than the paper on which it is written.

- With insufficient time to attempt to find the owner - What should the doctor do?

What is the law?

Please email us with your comments and answers at weekly@projectfellow.org.

Read next week's issue for the answer!

LAST WEEK'S CASE

CASE 153: Gone in the Hilton!

Mr. Nate Reiss, President of Bernay's Investment Firm arrived in Newark on Monday morning on USAir flight 1251 from Chicago O'Hair. Scheduled to speak on investment management and responsibility at the Hilton East Brunswick Hotel & Executive Meeting Center at 1 pm. Reiss hailed a black limousine to take him directly to the hotel.

En route to East Brunswick, Reiss noticed a black wallet lying on the bar. Curiously, he opened the wallet and found inside three thousand dollars cash, a South African banking card which had a bank # with no name) as well as a drivers license belonging to Michael Martins.

Nate was uncomfortable leaving the wallet in the Lincoln. Neither was he so excited about handing it to his chauffeur. Instead, he decided to take the wallet with him and attempt to locate Michael.

Reiss put the wallet in his front pocket.

At 1 PM Reiss began his address. The audience sat spellbound at the edge of their seats. About half way through his talk, the wallet began to annoy him. He removed the wallet from his pocket and laid it down on the lectern.

Reiss finished his speech, fielded questions from the floor and walked out the convention room feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Fifteen minutes passed when suddenly he broke out into a cold sweat. "The wallet..."

"Responsibility, responsibility..." His words came back to haunt him.

Reiss immediately ran back to the convention room. However, the wallet was gone...

The President of Bernay's now lost Martin's wallet, cash, banking card, and driver's license.

Found in the Lincoln...Gone in the Hilton!

1. Does Reiss have any liabilities towards Martin?

What is the law?

The Answer

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

Reiss is not liable [See detailed explanation].

Detailed Explanation

Gone in the Hilton! implicates the following six laws.

1.Generally, loose money is standard and has no unique identifying features <[i>Choshen Mishpat 262: 6, 11, 13] [See Issue 52]. Yet, money lost in wallet will benefit from the identifying features of the wallet and the contents thereof <[i>Choshen Mishpat 262: 20].

2.The responsibility to reunite the article with its loser requires the finder to safeguard the article. The finder becomes a bailee or a custodian thereof and is liable to reimburse the loser for damage or loss due to negligence, yet is not accountable for inadvertent damages or loss due <[i>Choshen Mishpat 267: 17 Sm"a, Shach]. [For more information regarding custodial responsibilities, please see Issues 24, Fellow Weekly Special Edition - The Case of the Baffled Babysitter (Part 2), 26, 33, 47, 49 some of which may be viewed on RabbiHorowitz.com and Aish.com].

3.Protecting a fellow from an impending financial loss is as much Hashavat Aveidah as returning an object of book value <[i>Choshen Mishpat 259: 9]

4. A foremost consideration is the environment where the article was lost. Generally, an owner will despair from retrieving an article lost amidst a society inattentive to the laws of Hashavat Aveidah. Consequently, one may keep an article found in such an environment irrespective of whether it bears identifying features<[i>Choshen Mishpat 259:3] [See Issue 50].

5. It is important to note that finding an identifiable article in an area frequented mostly by non-Hashavat Aveidah observant individuals is not a free license to keep the article. Although the owner will probably despair upon discovering the loss, and as such, the finder need not publicize the find, if the owner does actually produce identifying details, it is noble and morally correct for the finder to return the article to its original owner. One is required to fulfill It is a Mitzvah to follow this "noble route" of being "straight and good"<[i>Devarim 6: 18] [See Issues 50, 51, 52, 53].

6. When returning an article to fulfill the mitzvah of acting straight and good, one does not bear custodial responsibilities of the item thereof [ Shulchan Aruch HaRav: Hilchos Metzia ].

Application:

To hold Reiss liable for the wallet and all of its contents, one would have to prove the following three points.

1) Reiss was required to return the entire find to Martins and

2) Consequently became a legal custodian of the entire find.

3) Forgetting the wallet on the podium was negligence on his part and not an accident.

That money is generally unidentifiable and that a Drivers license lacks legal book value is insufficient grounds to indemnify Reiss from returning the money and license to Martins. The money is identifiable through the wallet and identifiable objects therein. While the license has no legal book value, returning it to the rightful owner protects Martins from having to purchase a new license, which is a form of Hashavat Aveidah.

Nevertheless, we will indemnify Reiss on two grounds.

1) While there is strong premise to maintain otherwise, there is sufficient evidence to reason that pressured for time, forgetting the wallet on the podium at the end of a lecture is an accident and not a form of negligence. As strong evidence exists on both sides of the argument, a court would not insist that Reiss pay Martins for the resulting loss [Pischei Choshen: Hilchos Pikadon 3:4]

2) Reiss found the wallet in the Limousine he hired from Newark Airport. We can reasonably assume that the majority of people utilizing Limousine services from Newark Airport are not Hashavat Aveidah observers. Consequently, presumably Martins despairs from retrieving his wallet albeit the existence of clear indentifying features. As such, while Reiss is required to fulfill the mitzvah of acting straight and good and pursuing Martins, the letter of the Hashavat Aveidah law does not require him to do so. As such, pursuing such appropriate course would not impose the general custodial responsibilities of Hashavat Aveidah performers on Reiss. Thus, even if Reiss would have been unquestionably negligent in guarding Martins wallet, he is indemnified from any liabilities thereof.

[Answered by the Fellow -Yesharim Research Center]

Note:

Although we aim to present the correct ruling, varying details are always important and decisively influence every individual case. Our readers are thus encouraged to present their personal cases to a competent authority and not solely rely on the information provided.

To join this mailing list, please send an email to weekly@projectfellow.org with the word subscribe in the subject line.

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