“What if it is customary there to leave the doors unlocked?” asked Mrs. Kohn.
“In that case, a shomer chinam [unpaid guardian] would be exempt,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “He is expected to watch in the normal, customary, manner. Similarly, if you had gone out for a short time to get a cup of coffee, when many people leave the office unlocked, you would be exempt. However, a shomer sachar [paid guardian] is still liable. He is paid to provide extra protection.” (C.M. 291:8; 303:10-11)
“What if Mrs. Kohn herself would often leave her door unlocked?” asked Mrs. Melamed. “Can I be expected to watch better than she does?”
“This case is not commonly addressed,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “It seems, though, that a guardian is required to guard according to what is commonly expected. Thus, you cannot exempt yourself by claiming that Mrs. Kohn often leaves her office unlocked.”Rabbi Meir Orlian
About the Author: Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail email@example.com.
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