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A student of Rabbi Yisroel Salanter once approached him with the following dilemma. "I've been a shochet (ritual slaughterer) for many years. As I grow older, I become more concerned about my responsibilities. The fear of causing others to eat non-kosher meat is overwhelming. I would like to stop slaughtering and go into business instead!" Rabbi Yisroel Salanter asked him, "Are you an expert in the laws of slaughtering?" "Of course, Rebbe, I have studied the laws of shechita for many years!" Rabbi Yisroel Salanter then asked, "Are you expert in the laws of business?" The student laughed, "Of course not, very few people learn Choshen Mishpat (the section in the Shulchan Oruch [The Code of Jewish Law] that discusses business law)!" Said Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, "You are not making any sense - If you are prepared to stop slaughtering because of your fear of sinning, even though you are an expert in the laws, how much more so should you fear sinning in business, in which you have no expertise in its halachos!"

Any posek (halachic authority) will tell you that even though he may receive sha'alos (halachic queries) on the laws of Shabbos, Kashrus, blessings, etc. the sha'alos on Choshen Mishpat are few and far between. When it comes to our own finances and business dealings, we prefer to be our own poskim (halachic authorities). Ignorance of these laws, coupled with a vested interest make for a very dangerous combination!

The purpose of this class is to acquaint readers with everyday Business-Halacha situations that can arise at any time and the concepts that a Rabbi may use to address them. The class will initially be based on translations of a weekly business law column by Rabbi Tzvi Shpitz, a Rosh Kollel and Av Bais Din in Ramot, Jerusalem. The translation is being done by Rabbi Aaron Tendler of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore. Rabbi Tendler accepts full responsibility for the accuracy of the translation and will be happy to fax originals of the articles in Hebrew to anyone interested.

These classes are on an advanced level and will presume familiarity with basic halachic concepts, such as sofek, chazakah, etc... Although the bottom line halachic p'sak (ruling) is stated, the intention is not to be the final say, rather to provide food for thought, and whenever possible, a competent Rabbi should be consulted.

Additionally, the column is based on actual questions that have come before Rabbi Shpitz's Bais Din in Jerusalem. Very often the variables will change when applied to other societies where the accepted custom is different.

We hope you find this class informative and stimulating!

Feedback is appreciated and can be sent to atendler@torah.org.

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Please Note: The purpose of this column is to make people aware of Choshen Mishpat situations that can arise at any time, and the Halachic concepts that may be used to resolve them. Each individual situation must be resolved by an objective, competent Bais Din (or Rabbinic Arbitrator) in the presence of all parties involved!


 

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