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Fellow Weekly Newsletter - Issue 55 - Welcome to Shortsighted - Business Law and Ethics for the Shabbos Table

Publication: Fellow Weekly Newsletter

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11/26/10

Fellow Weekly - Issue 55

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 155: Welcome to Shortsighted

"Welcome to Shortsighted. We offer scheduled bus service to New York City from Upstate New York with special service to and from Woodbury Common Premium Outlets ®, Northern New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania, along with exciting tours and professional charter service. In addition, our friendly customer service department offers you the peace of mind for which every traveler yearns.

Forgot a Torah Scroll on the bus? Sit back and leave the anxiety to us. Leave your worries behind. Shortsighted will make every effort to locate the owner. We go so far to post photos in the news of the items we find and wait for the rightful owner to step forward. We are certain that only the finest most acutely aware citizens ride Shortsighted. So you won't go through too much hassle in retrieving your item, or contending with other claimants, our Lost and Found policies are based on an upstanding honor system. First come, first served. Provide us with one identifying feature and reunite with your belongings... or maybe not..."

1. How should Shortsighted publicize their finds?

2. What measure of proof must the claimant provide in order to retrieve his or her belongings?

3. If two claimants step forward and provide identifying features, how should Shortsighted react?

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 154: Hebrew Friends of Israel and 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?

The Answer

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

Shoen is required to extend an effort to reunite the tcket with the loser. If unfeasable, Shoen must find legal means to transfer the ticket for cash value and return the sum to the rightful claimant [See detailed explanation].

Detailed Explanation

Hebrew Friends of Israel & The World Cup implicates the following three laws.

1. Losing an article amidst a society attentive to Hashavat Aveidah laws provides the owner with hope of recovery. Yet, the owner can only hope to retrieve it if he or she can expect the finder to notice unique identifying features thereof. Similarly, the finder may only return the object to one who produces the correct identifying features, lest the article land up in the wrong hands <[i>Choshen Mishpat 267].

Identifying features include unique size, shape, weight, packaging, and quantity as well as other non-standard features. Thus, finding a non-standard article amidst a society of Hashavat Aveidah observers would require the finder to safeguard the article, responsibly attempt to identify the rightful owner and then inform the owner of its whereabouts <[i>Choshen Mishpat 259:3, 262:3].

2. The mitzvah of Hashavat Aveidah requires the finder to care for the article and take measures that the article not depreciates in the interim <[i>Choshen Mishpat 267: 17]. If it will depreciate considerably before the finder is able to return it, the finder may convert the item into its present cash value and use it <[i>Choshen Mishpat 267: 21]. If the finder has no use for the article, he or she must sell it and return the cash value to the rightful owner <[i>Mishna Berura 443: 11]. Nevertheless, if the finder does not sell it, he or she is not liable to compensate the loser for the loss [ibid].

3. One is required to respect local business law.

Application:

Dr. Shoen found the ticket in the synagogue yard. Presumably, the synagogue yard is a locale where most of the locals are Hashavat Aveidah observers. The ticket has clear identifying features upon it. Thus, Dr. Shoen is obligated to extend a reasonable effort to search for the owner of the ticket and return it to the one who provides the appropriate identifying features.

As the $6995 ticket will soon be worthless, if time does not permit him to reunite the loser with the ticket, Dr. Shoen is required to find a legal way in which he can at least return the present cash value to the loser.

If Shoen is interested in going to the game and can affect a legal transfer of the ticket, then he should go and set aside the cash value to be readily available for return to the rightful claimant. If Shoen is uninterested in going to the game, he should pursue a legal sale of the ticket and safeguard the money for return to the rightful claimant. He should not use the money for philanthropic ventures. If Shoen is unable to or was unsuccessful in affecting such a sale, he is indemnified from any financial responsibilities to the rightful owner.

[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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