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February 22, 2017 / 26 Shevat, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘business’

Can an Orthodox Jewish Woman Have it All?

24 Heshvan 5773 – November 8, 2012

As I began reading an article in the Forward by Aurora Mendelsohn about whether a Jewish woman can have it all (meaning a career and an observant family) I received a call from my daughter about an article in the Chicago Tribune* about one woman who does have it all.

Her name is Talia Mashiach. And indeed she does have it all. And I was glad to see that she didn’t Kvetch about how difficult it is for her to fulfill her role as a Jewish woman and have a successful career at the same time. She seemed to revel in her success at both. More about Talia later.

This is not to say that Ms. Mendelsohn doesn’t make some valid points. She does. But whenever I read one of these feminist based articles, it always seems like someone is Kvetching about how hard it is for a woman to be successful in a male dominated society in general and in Judaism in particular.

Ms. Mendelsohn mentioned the things she has to do in order to be more fulfilled as a Jew while raising children. Like taking turns with her husband going to Shul for Kol Nidre in alternate years. She talks about breaking barriers of stereotypical male-female roles in the workplace and in Judaism. To that end she advocates flextime for parents in the workplace to enable better parenting for both.

And then – as is common among some feminist types – she implies that Rishonim like the Avudraham and later the Shulchan Aruch that reflect his views were influenced by the misogyny of their time. Albeit praising them for recognizing that indeed no one can really have it all – which is why in Judaism women are exempt from most of the time bound positive Mitzvos.

However, in the current spirit of egalitarianism she says that women should be given greater roles in the synagogue while men should be encouraged to become more domestic. Kind of a role reversal.

Right. That is what Judaism is all about. Role reversal. I have heard this argument ad nauseum. Is this what is now demanded?! In order to achieve some sort of parity with men, women need to go to Shul while men stay home with their children?! I guess so if one follows the example of the Mendelsohn household. This seems to be the current trend in Orthodox feminism. Push the envelope so far that men take on the traditional roles of women so that women can take on the traditional roles of men… All within the parameters of Halacha of course.

I am not even going to attempt to argue the point here. Been there and done that. I just want to contrast that with a woman who probably has more of what Ms. Mendelsohn seeks than she ever will and does so without the need to change Orthodox Judaism as we know it.

Talia Mashiach is one of the most successful career women in the Orthodox world. I know her and her husband. They are day school and yeshiva educated Orthodox Jews who send their children to Arie Crown Hebrew Day School. She not only has a successful career in business, she has a successful career as a mother. An Orthodox mother that does not ignore her children or her Judaism.

At age 35, Talia Mashaich is a self-made millionaire. She has created many successful businesses and is about to corner the market on corporate event planning by digitalizing every aspect of it online. Her business acumen has attracted some big name venture capitalists and they have not been disappointed with the returns on their investments. She loves what she does and is highly respected in the corporate world. She does what’s necessary to succeed without sacrificing one iota of her Judaism. She has made sure of that.

As her husband Shmuel said in the Tribune article, she is as good a mom and wife as she is in business.

Talia organizes her schedule so that she can be home by the time her children come home for school. Fridays she generally works out of her house. Evenings are spent with her family. She hires household help to take care of cleaning and cooking allowing her to maximize her time with her family.

Weekends are hallowed time for the Mashiachs and on Shabbos they often host friends and family for Friday night and Shabbos morning meals. And of course she is unplugged from all technology. That – she says – rejuvenates her for the new work week.

She does it all without Kvetching about how Judaism has somehow failed women spiritually.

Before anyone accuses me of being insensitive to those women who feel they need “more” in order to express their spirituality than mainstream Orthodoxy gives them, please don’t bother. I get it. Some people (men as well as women) feel they need more to express their service to God than Judaism requires of them. My point here is that this is certainly not the case for all. Jewish women need not seek Shul participation in order to be fulfilled as a Jew or as a woman. Ask Talia.

That said Talia freely admits that what she does is not for everyone – certainly not everyone has her skill set. But she is living proof that an Orthodox Jewish woman can indeed have it all. Without the need to eat, live, and breathe the feminist clarion call of egalitarianism. There was not a hint of that in this very beautiful article in the Chicago Tribune.

At age 35 she has succeeded in business in ways that would make many even successful men envious. If things keep going her way, she could be the next Mark Zuckerberg. All while maintaining her role as the quintessential Jewish woman without sacrificing one iota of her Judaism. My hat is off to her.

*(Unfortunately one must be a subscriber to the digital version of Chicago Tribune to see the article online. But it is a front page story in the business section – print edition.)

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Ha’aretz Editor: “I Hate Israeli Settlers”

23 Heshvan 5773 – November 8, 2012

In an interview published on November 7 by Israel’s Globes online business magazine, Ha’aretz editorial board member Gideon Levy spoke frankly and openly about his “hatred” of Jews making their lives in Judea and Samaria.

“I have no problem being the most hated person in Israel,” Levy told Globes.  His newspaper has dedicated itself to bringing down the settlement enterprise in the biblical heartland, and consistently promotes policies which would decrease the size of Israel’s territory and empower local Arabs.

“I need another Intifada, or to write another book,” Levy told Globes.  He said it is “hard for me” when there is no upheaval in the day’s news, and said he loves action and danger.

Such is his distaste for religious Jewry in the biblical heartland, that he proudly declares his hate for Israel’s “settlers”.

“They don’t just bother me. I have feelings of hatred towards them,” Levi said. “They embarrass me, they humiliate me in the things they say and do, with their very existence.”

Levy has won several international and Israeli journalistic awards for his coverage on behalf of Palestinian rights.  He lives in Ramat Aviv with his Swedish long-time girlfriend, Catrin Ormestad.

Love Of Fellow Jews

21 Heshvan 5773 – November 5, 2012

The kinship and love between Jews is one of the cardinal principles and hallmarks of Judaism and none could match Rav Eliezer-Lippa, father of the two great chassidic leaders Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk and Reb Zusha of Hanipoli, when it came to this particular characteristic.

Rav Eliezer-Lippa would spare no money or effort when it came to helping out a fellow Jew who was in desperate straits. Above all, he took a special interest in those poor Jewish tenants-farmers who were constantly being harassed by the feudal landlords because they fell behind in the staggering tax payments imposed on them.

Redeeming A Prisoner

It was the custom of the landlords to take these poor Jews and throw them into prison until they or someone else paid the debt. Rav Eliezer-Lippa was one who gave all that he owned for the mitzvah of pidyon shvuyim (redeeming the prisoners).

One time he heard that in a nearby town a certain Jewish tenant-farmer had been imprisoned by the landlord because he was unable to pay his rents and taxes. Leaping into his wagon, he took all of his money and drove off to see what he could do. When he arrived at the landlord’s home, however, he was told that the amount owed was twice as much as he had.

He pleaded with the landlord to accept the money that he had in payment of the debt and free the prisoner. His pleas were effective and the man was freed. Following this, the landlord turned to Rav Eliezer-Lippa and said, “I see that you are a truly good and righteous man and I am sure you are also an honest man in business. I have a business proposition you might be interested in.”

“What is it?” asked the rav.

The Proposition

“I have a certain relative who is a wealthy landlord in a town not far from here. He has a great deal of agricultural produce – wheat, barley, flax – that he is interested in selling, but he has been looking for an exceptionally honest merchant whom he can trust.

“I am sure you would be the perfect man and I will give you a letter to him so that he will sell you his merchandise.”

When Rav Eliezer-Lippa heard these words he replied, “I thank you very much for your trust in me but I am afraid that I have no money with which to buy the merchandise. You see, every available penny that I had, I gave you to redeem the prisoner.”

An Offer

When the landlord heard this, he said, “In that case, I will do this. Here is the money back and use it to buy produce. When you have earned your profit I am sure that you will come back and repay me.”

“I appreciate this very much,” said the rav. Taking the money and the letter he set off for the town to buy the merchandise and realize a handsome profit.

Arriving at the merchant’s home he explained why he was there and showed him the letter. The landlord read it and said, “My relative speaks very highly of you and he recommends that I do business with you. Since I have great respect for his judgment, I agree to it.”

The two men sat down and worked out a price and all the other necessary details. Then Rav Eliezer-Lippa went down to the granaries to look over the produce.

As he was walking with one of the servants he heard a terrible groan coming from one of the nearby buildings.

“What is that?” he asked in horror.

“Oh, that is a Jew who has been imprisoned by the landlord because he is behind in his debts. The landlord has decided to starve him to death.”

When Rav Eliezer-Lippa heard this he rushed back to the landlord and cried, “I wish to pay the Jewish prisoner’s debt immediately. Here is the money so you can release him.”

Prepare To Leave

When the Jew had been released, Rav Eliezer-Lippa prepared to leave. Where are you going?” asked the landlord in surprise. “What about the business deal that we have?”

Rav Eliezer-Lippa stood straight and stared at the landlord directly in the face saying, “I will be quite frank with you. Since I have seen with what cruelty you behaved towards this Jew, I have decided that I have no desire to do business with you in any way even if this means losing enormous profits.”

Driving The Iranian Regime Into The Ground

17 Heshvan 5773 – November 1, 2012

There’s no question Iran’s corrupt and abusive regime is feeling the bite of tough new sanctions. These sanctions are our only hope short of armed conflict of stopping Iran – the world’s number one sponsor of terror and single greatest threat to the state of Israel – from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The clock is ticking. If we’re going to apply the fullest economic pressure to stop Iran, we’ll need more than governments to do it. Consumers – that means you and me – have to assert their power as well.

We launched www.IranWatchList.com earlier this year to do just that. Together with Iran180 and United Against Nuclear Iran, my office has been mobilizing consumer pressure to force Western car companies to cut their Iranian ties.

Unscrupulous automakers have maintained, and in some cases expanded, their Iranian business by exploiting sanction loopholes. But they can’t evade their consumer base here in the U.S. so easily.

That is why this past week I stood with strong allies in my anti-nuclear Iran fight to shine light on two luxury car companies that have recently increased their business presence in Iran: Maserati and Lamborghini.

These expensive cars are purchased by the elite and powerful members of the Iranian regime, who are the main targets of sanctions. The average Maserati sells for $300,000—roughly 1,000 times more than the average Iranian household makes in a month. These companies are also propping up the Iranian regime by allowing them to project signs of strength and prosperity to potential investors and Iranians living abroad.

We need to ensure that companies like this know doing business in Iran will cost them valuable business here in the United States.

On October 5, following months of reports that Maserati was planning on opening a dealership in Tehran,Maserati Center for Iran announced on its Facebook page that its new glitzy dealership had opened for business at 472 Mirdamad Boulevard – Tehran’s Fifth Avenue.

I joined with our former UN ambassador Mark Wallace earlier this month to give the two luxury automakers a chance to renounce their Iranian dealings. Neither said a word. Last week, we added both companies to our Watch List, ensuring that consumers looking to take a test drive would know their purchase could help fuel a nuclear Iran.

This is how we’re going to cut the Iranian regime’s economic lifeline. Maserati’s and Lamborghini’s actions are all legal. The car companies make use of non-sanctioned banks to handle all the sales transactions, and they are trying to cash in on their competitors’ exit from the Iranian market because of sanctions. But threatening their U.S. market makes them think twice. Almost half of the 6,200 Maseratis sold every year are sold in the United States.

Since the launch of our campaign we have successfully pressured four car companies – Volvo, Porsche, Hyundai and Fiat – to pull out of Iran. This is making a huge difference. The car industry is the second-biggest sector of Iran’s economy after oil and gas. Consumer pressure and tightened sanctions have led to a 42 percent drop in Iran’s car production so far this year.

The stakes could not be higher. We cannot allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This is a government that abuses and murders its own citizens. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a rabid Holocaust denier. He has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. With a nuclear bomb, he could hold the whole Middle East hostage.

And the threat to New Yorkers is just as clear. Iran’s agents have surveyed New York City for potential targets in the past year. As the number one target of terrorists in America, our city would be in profound danger if the world’s number one sponsor of terror acquired a nuclear bomb.

You can help. Visit www.IranWatchList.com and share it with your neighbors. They deserve to know if the car they are purchasing is sold by a company that is irresponsibly backing Iran’s dangerous regime.

Let’s send a message to companies around the world. You can do business with the regime in Tehran – or with the American people. The days of doing both are over.

AARP Throws Granny Under the Bus

9 Heshvan 5773 – October 24, 2012

If any single business lobby—yes, business lobby—stands as an obstacle to entitlement reform, it is the American Association of Retired People [AARP]. There is nothing wrong with being a successful business, and the AARP should be credited for being just that. But there is something unsavory, at least, about being in the business of duping the elderly. Dissimulating—even to the elderly—is not illegal, nor should it be. A government powerful enough to prevent the AARP from duping old people is a more powerful government than any of us should want. There is no evidence that the AARP is technically breaking the law. But what they are doing is exploiting the elderly for a fast buck while lobbying—consistently—for the massive expansions of the federal government.

Let’s start with this statement from the AARP’s website:

Barry Rand is chief executive officer (CEO) of AARP, the world’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to social change and helping people 50 and over to improve the quality of their lives. Mr. Rand is a dynamic leader and change agent who brings to AARP a proven track record of leading both multibillion-dollar businesses and smaller, private equity-driven businesses. He has served as chairman and chief executive officer of Avis Group Holdings, CEO of Equitant Ltd., and executive vice president, Worldwide Operations, at Xerox Corporation. He serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Howard University.

That’s a a heavy-hitting resume for the head of “a non-profit, non-partisan nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50 and over improve the quality of their lives,” isn’t it? It should be a clue. It is. Barry Rand is the CEO not only of a non-profit organization, but a very profitable organization that is also called the AARP.

The AARP, in principle, is a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt non-profit association. The (c)(4) designation is reserved for “Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees;” the key constraint upon its operation is that its net earnings must be devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.

What is poorly understood—particularly by the elderly—is that there are eight entities linked to the AARP label, of which five are taxable, for-profit companies: AARP Insurance, AARP Services, Inc., AARP Global Network LLC, AARP Properties LLC, and AARP Financial, Inc. The profit-making and non-profit AARP entities are not only linked by their name—there is a great deal of overlap among boards of directors.

This is not illegal, but it is clearly unethical, in so far as these companies are using AARP’s reputation as a neutral advocate for the elderly to sell stuff to the elderly. Given that only the Catholic Church has a larger American membership, the AARP’s endorsement is to the old-people market as a Papal indulgence is to sinners.

To put it crudely, the non-profit part of the AARP is a front. The non-profit arm, as advertised, “provides a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services for our members.” If you join the AARP for a low annual membership fee, you get discounts on hotels and cruises, and lots of magazines and newsletters about graying gracefully and staying spry. You can even listen to AARP radio and watch AARP TV—in Spanish, too!

But the media organs are the loss leaders: The revenue comes from the massive mailing list and the AARP name, which it licenses to for-profit companies—health insurers, in particular. In other words, it uses advocacy for the elderly as a sales tool. And indeed, AARP does conduct useful research and provide useful services to the elderly. But this is not its primary function. Its primary function is to sell stuff to old people via AARP Services Inc., which is not only a profit-making company, but a very profitable one: supplemental health insurance, discounts on prescription drugs, entertainment and travel packages, long-term care insurance, and automobile, home and life insurance, anything old people like—that’s what AARP sells. If you want to speak to the elderly, sell anything to the elderly, or get the elderly to vote for you, the AARP is the gatekeeper. This gives AARP an almost unrivaled power to blackmail Congress—which it does.

The profit and non-profit parts of AARP combined amount to an organization that in 2009 enjoyed gross receipts of $2.2 billion. The NRA—the second-largest officially non-profit advocacy group—is only one-eighth this size, financially speaking. The highest-spending lobbyists in Washington are, in descending order, the US Chamber of Commerce, General Electric, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the AARP. They are all business lobbies, whether or not they claim non-profit status. Only the AARP, however, has managed to persuade the public that it is not.

There can be no entitlement reform unless a barrier is placed between the AARP and the legislative process, and so far, no politician has figured out how to do this without looking as if he is throwing granny under a bus. This is an immensely difficult problem: The elderly cannot be disenfranchised, nor can the AARP be deprived of its First Amendment rights.

There is only one realistic solution to this. Parents have a responsibility to protect their children. They also have a responsibility to protect their parents. Just as it is up to parents to protect their kids from exploitation by industries that are fundamentally unconcerned with their welfare, it is up to parents to protect their parents from exploitation by the AARP. It is even more difficult to persuade stubborn, aging parents to listen than it is to get through to recalcitrant teenagers. But it must be done. How? I suggest they follow the AARP’s advice. In its eldercare literature, it advises children to:

* Talk to your parents about scams that target the elderly.
* Educate yourself on current scams.
* Warn your older family members not to sign any forms or documents without reviewing the materials with another family member or attorney.
* Contact the media and the police about any fraudulent activity.
* Close any bank or credit card accounts that were involved in a scam.
* It is also important to remember not to blame your parent or older relative for falling victim to financial fraud. Be sure to explain to them what happened and the steps they can take to prevent against future scams.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Israeli Company Wins FDA Approval For Bone Cancer Treatment

6 Heshvan 5773 – October 22, 2012

Israeli med-tech company InSightec Image Guided Treatment has announced that it has been approved for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) premarketing of its ExAblate targeted focused ultrasound treatment for the removal of bone tumors.

According to Globes online business magazine, the initial approval is for patients who cannot or will not undergo radiation therapy.

According to InSightec, 30% of bone cancer patients cannot undergo radiation treatment.

InSightec is controlled by Elbit Medical Technologies.

Suspected!

2 Heshvan 5773 – October 17, 2012

“I arranged with Simon Cooper, the plumber, to clear the blockage in the kitchen sink this morning,” Mr. Laks told his wife.

“Oh, great!” she replied. “I’ll clean the kitchen before he comes.”

At 10 o’clock Simon arrived. Mr. Laks showed him into the kitchen. “This sink is blocked terribly,” he said. “I’ve tried drain cleaner and a snake, but haven’t been able to clear it.”

“I’ll get to the bottom of it,” replied Simon confidently.

“Do you need help?” asked Mr. Laks.

“No,” said Simon. “You can go about your business; leave the sink to me.” He worked for about a half hour, going in and out of the house to bring tools from his car.

Mrs. Laks came into the kitchen and opened the drawer near the sink. “Have you seen my ring?” she asked Simon.

“No, I haven’t,” Simon responded.

“I left my ring in the kitchen drawer when I cleaned the kitchen this morning,” Mrs. Laks confided to her husband, panic-stricken. “There was no one else in the house other than Simon all morning, and he’s been in and out to his car numerous times.”

“Are you sure you left it in the drawer?” Mr. Laks asked her.

“Absolutely positive,” she said. “I also noticed the drawer was ajar and had been rummaged through.”

“Did you confront Simon?” Mr. Laks asked his wife.

“I asked him if he saw the ring,” replied Mrs. Laks, “but he claims he didn’t. I’m sure he took it, though.”

“I’m going to confront him directly,” Mr. Laks said.

Mr. Laks went over to Simon. “My wife is missing her ring,” he said. “She is positive she left it the drawer near the sink this morning, and only you were in the house today.”

“How dare you accuse me?” said Simon indignantly. “Your wife probably moved it and forgot where.”

“She is sure she left it in the drawer,” said Mr. Laks emphatically.

“You have no evidence I took it,” said Simon, shaking his head angrily. “Anyway, I just finished clearing the blockage. That’s $150 for the repair and I’ll be off.”

“I’m not paying anything,” said Mr. Laks. “I’m holding the payment in lieu of the ring, until we discuss this with Rabbi Dayan.”

“We’d better do so,” retorted Simon. “Let’s go right now!”

“My wife left her ring in the kitchen drawer, and it was taken,” Mr. Laks told Rabbi Dayan. “Mr. Cooper was working in the kitchen and was the only other person in the house. What recourse do we have?”

“A person who makes a definite claim but has no evidence or testimony an impose an oath, shevuas heses, on the other party who denies the claim,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “Although in general a person cannot impose an oath without a definite claim, Rama writes that a person can impose an oath if there is a strong basis, raglayim ladavar, for the claim, even if it is not definite.” (C.M. 75:17)

“What is an example of something considered a strong basis?” asked Mr. Laks.

“Let’s say someone was in your house. You find the moneybox broken and the contents stolen, and you suspect that person – you can impose an oath upon him,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “However, the Shach [75:63] questions the Rama’s ruling. He concludes that it depends on the evaluation of the beis din; if they see sufficient basis for the allegation, they can impose an oath upon the accused.”

“I understand that nowadays beis din is wary about imposing an oath,” said Mr. Laks. “Anyway, I want to withhold Mr. Cooper’s wages!”

“This is a complicated issue,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “The SM”A [75:49] writes that if the plaintiff grabs payment from the suspected thief unobserved, so that there is no evidence that he grabbed, he can keep the payment. Shach [75:64] and Taz [75:17] vehemently disagree; a person cannot take money from another when there is an element of doubt. Pischei Teshuvah [75:20] cites varying opinions of later authorities. Bottom line, since the plaintiff is already in possession of the money, he can keep it when he has clear basis for his claim.” (See Pischei Choshen, Geneivah 1:13)

“Then I should be able to withhold the wages,” said Mr. Laks, “since I am in possession of the money.”

Don’t Blame Adelson For Collapse Of Israel’s Monolithic Liberal Media

2 Heshvan 5773 – October 17, 2012

Liberal pundits have coined a new saw: Sheldon Adelson and the newspaper he owns, Israel Hayom, are primarily responsible for the collapse of many Israeli media outlets, and this endangers Israeli democracy.

The assertion is wrong on both the business and ideological levels.

The imminent failures of Maariv and Channel 10 television, and the deep troubles of Haaretz and other smaller publications, are first and foremost the function of long-term market forces, such as the advent of Internet news sites, that predate Israel Hayom.

Maariv’s downward slope began long before Israel Hayom debuted in 2007, which explains why Maariv was bought and sold four times – always at a loss – over the past 20 years. Its consistently terrible management and lack of brand positioning spelled its doom.

The same for Channel 10. The same for the Davar, Hadashot and Hatzofe newspapers – all of which have folded over the past 20 years. Sheldon Adelson had nothing to do with these bankruptcies.

Undoubtedly, some readers have moved from Maariv, Yediot Aharonot and Haaretz to Israel Hayom because the latter is distributed free. These readers also may have discovered that Israel Hayom is a good paper, with solid editing, experienced reporters, comprehensive coverage and a fine lineup of sharp columnists (full disclosure: including me).

But Israel Hayom also has tens of thousands of subscribers who pay for home delivery. And now Maariv and Yediot are distributing tens of thousands of free copies every day, too, on trains and in shopping malls across Israel.

What really irks the veteran Israeli media outlets is that readers have abandoned them for ideological reasons. Readers fled Yediot and Maariv because they became crass, trashy publications dominated by glossy features about models, actors, singers, rich playboys and the “true heroes” of Israel – journalists themselves.

By contrast, Israel Hayom features academics, scientists, pioneers, and Zionist and social activists. It also promotes hiking and travel within Israel, not the casinos in Greece, the restaurants in Rome or the fleshpots of Thailand.

Readers also edged away from Maariv, Yediot and Haaretz because of the deep gap that opened between the left-wing ideological viewpoint peddled by these publications and the healthy, increasingly conservative instincts of the Israeli public.

Those papers idolized Shimon Peres and his “new Middle East,” puffed up Yasir Arafat and promoted the Oslo process long after its failure was clear, and they lionized Ariel Sharon and pumped for Gaza disengagement while ignoring Sharon family corruption.

Yediot and Haaretz also regularly dump on Jerusalem, Israel’s largest city, as medieval and backwards while exalting Tel Aviv as cool and cultured. They sneer at Orthodox Judaism and mock religious Jews. They disparage Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with savage vehemence and fanatical constancy. Not a month goes by without Yediot conjuring up some nasty, cockamamie story about Netanyahu’s wife, Sarah.

For Haaretz, Israel can do no right and the Palestinians can do no wrong.

There’s more. In the 1970s and ‘80s, Yediot under editor Dov Yudkovsky, and to a lesser extent Maariv under editors Rosenfeld, Shnitzer and Dissenchik, became razor-sharp media watchdogs, launching one investigative report after another into government and financial sector corruption. They were papers with values and an edge.

But under Yediot publisher and acting editor Noni Mozes, and under Maariv’s disgraced and jailed publisher Ofer Nimrodi and current owner Nochi Dankner, the last decade has been dismal. The papers became enmeshed in promoting the financial and political careers of Israel’s liberal elites and the vested business interests of the publishers themselves. They often defended corrupt politicians and attacked attorney generals and the system of law enforcement. They came to represent the interests of their owners’ business and political connections, not the public interest. This is a real threat to democracy.

It’s no surprise that Israel’s top crime-busting investigative journalist, Mordechai Gilat, left Yediot in disgust after a 30-year career there. Gilat now writes for Israel Hayom.

Israel’s Ted Koppel, a journalist named Dan Margalit – former editor of Maariv, anchor of Israel’s top TV political debate program and the man who exposed Yitzhak Rabin’s financial misdemeanors – is Israel Hayom’s senior political and diplomatic columnist.

It’s also no surprise that Yediot and Maariv are now running an unabashed, aggressive campaign promoting the return to politics and national prominence of Ehud Olmert and Aryeh Deri, both of whom earned reputations as corrupt politicians and both with criminal convictions. And lo and behold, both happen to share left-of-center political orientations.

Israel on Campus Coalition Joins Up with Student Investment Group

1 Heshvan 5773 – October 17, 2012

The Israel on Campus Coalition announced a new partnership with the student-run TAMID Israel Investment Group, connecting American business students with business and investment opportunities in Israel.

The program began at the University of Michigan in 2008 and is now estimated to have 300 members at UC Berkeley, Brandeis University, Harvard University, University of Maryland, University of Illinois, University of Miami, University of Michigan, Penn State University and the University of Southern California.

TAMID makes participants managers of investment funds or consultants for Israeli startups after a semester of educational seminars.  Students complete the program by interning in Israel with the TAMID Fellowship Program.

Driveway Sukkah

19 Tishri 5773 – October 4, 2012

Sam Berger and Moti Farber shared a two family house, with a joint driveway in front. The Farbers had an extensive family, whereas Sam was relatively young and just recently had his fourth child.

For the past ten years, Moti had built a large sukkah that covered almost the entire driveway, whereas the Bergers would spend the holiday with their parents.

This year however, was different. As Sukkos approached, Moti saw Sam measuring the driveway with a tape measure and some wooden beams. “What are you measuring?” Moti asked.

“Our family is beginning to grow and it’s getting harder to stay at the parents for all of Yom Tov,” said Sam. “We’re planning to build a sukkah this year.”

“How big a sukkah?” asked Moti.

“Eight feet square,” said Tom.

“Is there enough room left in the driveway with our sukkah?” asked Moti.

“That’s what I was checking,” replied Sam. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem so.”

“So where will you build it?” asked Moti.

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” said Sam.

“Why don’t you build your sukkah in the back of the house?” asked Moti.

“It’s not convenient there,” replied Sam. “It means walking around the back all the time.”

“What’s the other option?” asked Moti.

“I’m going to have to ask you to make your sukkah somewhat smaller,” said Sam, “and leave me room in the driveway.”

“But I can’t do that,” protested Moti. “Even with the big sukkah we’re tight, and our married daughter and son are both coming for the first days with their seven children.

“I’m sorry about that,” replied Sam, “but I’m entitled to my share of the driveway just as you are.”

“But you allowed me years ago to build the sukkah there,” argued Moti. “I’ve been building this sukkah for ten years!”

“I never said I gave you permission forever,” answered Sam. “I was happy to allow you to build your sukkah there so long as I didn’t need the space, but not when I also need the space.”

“But I’m established there,” said Moti. “You can’t make me move!”

“The fact that we didn’t need a sukkah in previous years,” replied Sam, “doesn’t mean that we relinquished our rights!”

“If you had no other place I’d understand,” said Moti. “But just because the back is not as convenient is no reason to ruin our Sukkos plans. It’s going to be very hard to fit into a smaller sukkah.”

“You can make it a little smaller and squeeze a bit,” said Sam. “It’s not fair to expect us to use the backyard.”

“We need to discuss this with Rabbi Dayan,” said Moti.

“Agreed,” said Sam. “Let’s make an appointment with him. I’ll give him a call.”

The following evening, Sam and Moti met with Rabbi Dayan in his study and presented their case.

“Uncontested usage of a property for an extended time can indicate ownership or usage rights of that property,” said Rabbi Dayan. “This is known in halacha as chazaka. Everybody agrees that to indicate ownership of the property requires three years of steady use and a legal basis for the claim of ownership. Usage or squatting alone does not make something yours.” (C.M. 140:7)

“I am not claiming sole ownership of the driveway, though,” said Moti, “just usage rights to continue building my sukkah as is on the joint property.”

“That is true,” said Rabbi Dayan. “Typically, though, one partner does not protest if the other partner makes temporary use of the joint property. Therefore, the fact that you used the driveway for many years to set up your sukkah does not establish a chazaka of usage rights. Only if you were to build a permanent wall or affix anchors in the driveway could you possibly establish a chazaka.” (140:15; SM”A 140:22; Shach 140:20)

“There is an additional reason why building a sukkah cannot serve as a chazaka without some permanent element,” added Rabbi Dayan. “Sam continued to use the driveway for the rest of the year. Many authorities maintain that one cannot establish even a chazaka of usage rights when the other party also uses the area.” (See Ketzos 140:3; Nesivos 140:19, 153:12; Emek Hamishpat, Shechenim, p. 39.)

“There was nothing permanent put up all these years,” said Sam. “The sukkah was constructed and completely dismantled each Yom Tov, and we share the driveway the rest of the year.”

No Business Like Government Business

10 Tishri 5773 – September 25, 2012

As the great anchor of the election hits bottom, plummeting past feeder fish, political plankton and eyeless creatures that lurk in the depths of MSNBC and Current TV to rise during election season to lecture us on how angry we should be, the theme of the season is that the choice between Romney and Obama is the choice between big corporations and big government.

Most people have already been primed by decades of songs and shows to pick the right answer to this one. We know that corporate boardrooms are full of menacing characters who are always laundering money, dumping toxic waste on children’s playgrounds and plotting to blot out the sun. And then they temporarily step out to work in government for a few years before returning to do their sun-blotting duties.

A choice between big corporations and big government is a choice of choices and no choice at all. There isn’t much good that can be said about corporations, just as there isn’t much good that can be said about any branch of the government. The difference is that you have a choice whether to deal with a corporation or not. Unless the government mandates that you buy health insurance from one of them; because most cases where people are forced to do business with a corporation is due to government regulations.

Imagine a big corporation. A really big corporation that monopolizes as much as it can and compels you to buy its low quality overpriced services and imprisons you if you refuse to pay for them whether you use them or not.

Now imagine a CEO who has no accountability, who cannot be put on trial for his actions while serving in that position, who picks and chooses which laws to follow, who breaks the law, causes thousands of deaths, lies repeatedly and wants to spend another four years doing it all over again.

We are all shareholders of the corporation of government. A corporation whose board and CEO we can vote for, but the corporation also has a variety of undemocratic governing mechanisms that make those votes much less meaningful. And the biggest problem is that many of the shareholders are part of blocs that make money from the current unsustainable practices of the corporation and vote in bad boards that rob us blind so they can make more money.

Once upon a time, Americans were shareholders of government. Today Americans are consumers of government.

The current incarnation of the American Republic (is it the Fourth or the Fifth incarnation? At least the Europeans have the good grace to tack on those numbers) is primarily a provider of domestic services and international defense. This is a striking contrast from the older American Republic where the government provided domestic defense and not much else.

It’s simplest to think of a thing in terms of its function. With the majority of Federal spending going to Social Security and Medicare, our government is essentially an insurance company, taking a percentage of salaries and “investing” that money to provide a social safety net. Except the money isn’t invested, it’s squandered, and much of it goes to people who are not paying into the system.

As insurance companies go, our government is completely financially unreliable and untrustworthy, its payouts are poor, its customer service is terrible and the people running it would be in a jail cell if they were serving on corporate boards.

To understand what our government is, imagine a wasteful non-profit obsessed with Third World children, merged with some kind of domestic poverty charity, merged with an insurance company, attached to a bunch of umbrella trade and regulatory groups for entire industry with a huge military arm that exists to stabilize troubled regions for the business community and occasionally does pro bono genocide interventions.

This Frankenstein America monster is what the current Republic looks like and the people running it insist that this unwieldy beast, its bulky body that can hardly walk in a straight line and its deviant brain, are a massive step forward into the future. Well Dr. Frankenstein thought the same thing and whether it’s the Tea Party or OWS, there are no shortage of peasants with pitchforks out there.

$1 Million Israeli BRAIN Prize To Be Awarded in 2013

8 Tishri 5773 – September 24, 2012

A $1 million dollar prize has been announced which will go to the individual or team with the highest potential for helping people around the world by the non-profit organization Israel Brain Technologies.

The Breakthrough Research and Innovation in Neurotechnology (BRAIN) prize will be awarded by a panel of international leaders in neuroscience, technology, and business.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, whose love of brain research led to the founding of IBT, lauded the potential for make inroads against debilitating brain diseases, both in terms of the benefit to mankind and the possibility of economic profit.

The first BRAIN Prize will be awarded at IBT’s Global Brain Technology Conference in 2013.

All In The Mind

5 Tishri 5773 – September 20, 2012

It was Yom Kippur eve. The shul began filling rapidly as the time approached for Kol Nidrei. Herzl Machlis sat in his seat, cloaked in his tallis and kittel, quietly reciting Tefillah Zakkah, composed by the Chayei Adam 150 years ago.

This emotional prayer ushers in Yom Kippur with an admission of our spiritual inadequacies and a supplication that the afflictions and prayers of the day should atone for our sins. It includes a declaration of forgiveness and forgoing bygones to those who have wronged us, and a request that others may forgive us, as well.

“I forgive completely to anyone who sinned against me, whether physically, monetarily, or verbally …. except for money that I [intend to and] can collect in beis din … Everyone else I forgive completely, so that no one should be punished on my account. Just as I forgive every person, so, too, give my favor in the eyes of other people that they should forgive me fully.”

Mr. Machlis paused to think about Mr. Schor. Earlier in the year, Mr. Schor had borrowed money from him to marry off a child. As the months wore on, it became clear the money would not be returned quickly. Mr. Machlis had decided in his mind to forgo the loan as an additional “wedding gift,” but had never said anything to Mr. Schor.

A month ago, though, the two had gotten into a dispute. Mr. Machlis changed his mind and was no longer was willing to forgo the debt; he had asked for the money back.

As Mr. Machlis stood there just before Kol Nidrei, he reflected about this incident. He wondered whether it was correct to demand the loan back after having decided to forgo it.

Mr. Machlis decided to speak with Rabbi Dayan after davening.

G’mar chasimah tovah,” he wished Rabbi Dayan. “Tefillah Zakkah made me think about an incident that happened this past year.”

“Indeed, Yom Kippur is a day to reflect on the past year,” said Rabbi Dayan. “What happened?”

“I loaned somebody money and decided to forego the loan, but we got into a dispute and I changed my mind,” Mr. Machlis said. “After I intended to forgo the loan, am I still allowed to demand the money?”

“The primary intent of Tefillah Zakkah is to exempt the debtor from heavenly punishment,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “Although is uses the term “mechila gemura” (forgoing completely) it likely does not express intent to forgo legal rights. Nonetheless, the issue you raised is a fascinating one, known in halacha as ‘mechila balev’ – forgoing in one’s mind.”

“Oh, really?!” exclaimed Mr. “Who addresses this issue?”

Ketzos Hachoshen [12:1] cites a statement of the Maharshal that a person who decided to forgo his loan and now wants to take revenge and collect it may no longer do so,” replied Rabbi Dayan, “since mechila in the mind is considered mechila.”

“The proof is from a Gemara [Kesubos 104a] that a widow who did not claim her kesuba for twenty-five years can no longer do so,” explained Rabbi Dayan. “One explanation is that, in the context of kesuba, her extended silence indicates intention to forgo the kesuba. Although she never said anything, her intention to forgo is valid.”

“Does the Ketzos accept this view?” asked Mr. Machlis.

“The Ketzos is troubled by the principle, ‘devarim shebalev ainam devarim,'” said Rabbi Dayan. Thoughts alone are not of legal consequence, with the exception of sacred donations.

“But what about the proof from the case of the widow?” asked Mr. Machlis.

“The Ketzos, citing the Maharit, differentiates between that case and the average case of mechila balev,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “When the intention is clearly evident to all, as in the case of the widow, we attribute significance to thoughts. However, when the intention is not clearly evident, as in the average case of mechila balev, it is not of significance.”

“What is the accepted ruling?” asked Mr. Machlis.

“Most authorities agree with the Ketzos that thought alone is insufficient,” said Rabbi Dayan. “There are some, though, who concur with the Maharshal.” (See Nesivos 12:5; Aruch Hashulchan 12:8; Yabia Omer C.M. 3:3)

“So what do I do?” asked Mr. Machlis.

“You are certainly entitled to demand your money, in accordance with the majority opinion,” said Rabbi Dayan. “If it were to become known to the beis din, though, that you initially decided in your mind to forgo the loan, they would likely not enforce payment, in deference to the minority opinion and the principle of hamotzi mei’chaveiro alav hare’aya – the burden of the proof in on the plaintiff.”

Israeli Companies Just Can’t Make It in the Japanese Market

24 Elul 5772 – September 10, 2012

Israel and Japan are celebrating sixty years of diplomatic relations, and so, a week ago, the Israel-Japan Chamber of Commerce marked the occasion with a festive event. But the current commercial ties between the two countries gives less cause for celebration. Israeli businesses find it difficult to understand the Japanese market and Japanese companies are not in a hurry to reach Israel, The Marker reported.

“I have been exporting diamonds to Japan since the sixties,” said Shmuel Schnitzer, Vice Chairman of the Israel-Japan Chamber of Commerce. “Japan is a nation with whom it is a pleasure to do business. When you play according to their rules, the Japanese client will be more loyal to you than any other client in the world. He will remain loyal to you even when a competitor offers merchandise at a lower price, and he won’t switch suppliers.”

Another exporter, selling water infrastructure, has been experiencing difficulties breaking into the Japanese market. “We joined up with a trading company, which, by and large, is how you do business in Japan,” he said. “We approached our targeted clients – beverage and bottling companies. We also tried to connect with engineering companies in the water business. Procedures in Japan are very lengthy, costly and difficult. The culture gaps are enormous. I’ve been to Japan twenty times. I’ve learned that not only do I not understand the Japanese, but I have no chance of ever understanding them.”

Israeli exports to Japan are still modest, and according to that exporter, the main obstacle is the Japanese perception of technology and marketing. “We haven’t succeeded in explaining to the Japanese concepts that are practiced in other parts of the world. One of the central issues there is the concept of time. Procedures are conducted from the bottom up, and nothing happens without consensus. Reaching a consensus depends on every single employee understanding the product or proposal. There is only a technological approval after this entire process is completed.”

The same exporter added that there are definitely language comprehension difficulties. “In one of the rounds of talks, they said ‘yes,’ but meant ‘no.’ Plus, they prefer locally-produced good. If there is a comparable Japanese product or technology, they will prefer it.”

Another obstacle preventing penetration into the Japanese market, according to the exporter, are the high prices. From his experience working in another company, he said, but “the potential is tremendous and the minute you penetrate the market, it’s a real success.”

Trade between Israel and Japan is volatile and varies between $2.5 – $3 billion annually. About 25% of this is Israeli export and the rest import. Cars (mainly Toyota and Subaru) make up a significant part of the imports. Last year, this included machinery and equipment. According to informed sources, the increase in car imports is a result of car imports by Intel as part of their investment in their Kiryat Gat, Israel, plant.

There was a marked decrease of 13% in trade with Japan (down to $1.4 billion) in the first half of 2012 in comparison with the first half of 2011. Exports dropped 8% to $341 million; imports dropped 15% to $1.1 billion. A 38% drop in automobile imports is predicted.

“We haven’t managed to crack Japan,” said Shauli Katzenelson, chief economist for the Export Institute. “Our rate of penetration into Japan stands out negatively compared to the rest of the world. Our share there is a mere 0.11% of their import, compared with our overall percentage of the world imports, which stands at 0.27%. Even when allowing for Japan’s huge oil imports, our situation there is not good.”

Roni Burstein, chairman of the Israel-Japan chamber of commerce and a Kikoman importer for more than 20 years, said “the problem at the moment is not with the Japanese but with us. If Israeli companies give Japan a high priority, which means investing in entering the market, in the end it will pay off, even if it takes a long time. It’s a market of 130 million homogeneous consumers. Once we get in, we won’t be easily kicked out.”

Missing Payment

20 Elul 5772 – September 6, 2012

Dr. Oren had a small psychology practice and rented office space from his colleague, Dr. Wieder, on Thursday afternoons. The rent amounted to $500 for the month. Since the two usually did not see each other, the arrangement was that Dr. Oren would leave the rent money in the top drawer of the desk.

One Thursday afternoon toward the end of the month, Dr. Oren brought the rent money with him. He counted the bills twice: “100, 200, 300, 400, 500 dollars.” He poked around his attaché case for an envelope to put the money in, but couldn’t find one, so he left the stack of bills loose in the drawer.

The following day, Dr. Wieder called. “Did you leave me cash?” he asked Dr. Oren.

“Yes, I did,” replied Dr. Oren. “I didn’t have an envelope, so I left the money in the drawer. I hope you got it.”

“How much did you leave there?” asked Dr. Wieder.

“I left the full amount for the month, $500,” replied Dr. Oren.

“Are you sure of the amount?” asked Dr. Wieder.

“Absolutely; I counted it twice,” answered Dr. Oren. “How much did you find?”

“Only $300,” said Dr. Wieder. “$200 is missing!”

“Do you doubt I left $500?” asked Dr. Oren, slightly offended.

“No, I don’t doubt you,” answered Dr. Wieder. “I’m concerned, though, since I suspect a certain patient of poking around the office. It would have been better had you sealed the money in an envelope.”

“I’m really sorry,” apologized Dr. Oren. “I usually try to leave the money in an envelope. There have been a few times, though, that I left cash loose in the drawer. There was never a problem and you never said anything.”

“I’m not accusing you of doing wrong, but you could have been more careful,” said Dr. Wider. “In any case, you still owe me $200 rent, since I never ended up receiving the money you left.”

“I feel bad,” replied Dr. Oren, “but I shouldn’t have to carry the loss, since I followed our arrangement to leave the money in the drawer. I’d be happy to discuss the issue, though, with Rabbi Dayan.”

“Fine with me,” said Dr. Wieder.

The two met with Rabbi Dayan, and asked: “Who is responsible for the missing $200?”

“There are two issues to consider here,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “One, whether placing money in the drawer is the same as handing it to Dr. Wieder. Two, whether the fact that this was the prearranged agreement is sufficient reason to exempt Dr. Oren.”

“Regarding the first issue,” Rabbi Dayan continued, “a person who owes money remains liable until he hands it over to the lender or his agent [C.M. 120:1]. Here, although the money was not handed directly to Dr. Wieder, placing it in the lender’s house in his presence is like handing it to him.” (Aruch Hashulchan 120:2)

“But I wasn’t present when the money was placed in the drawer,” argued Dr. Wieder. “In fact, I didn’t even find out until after the $200 was taken!”

“When the lender was not aware that the money was placed in his property, there is a question,” explained Rabbi Dayan, “since a person’s property acquires on his behalf even without his awareness [243:20]. Nonetheless, when returning a theft, the owner has to be made aware, so that he knows to guard the stolen object again [355:1]. This likely does not apply here, though, so long as the money was placed in a secure location.” (Pischei Choshen, Halva’ah 5:2)

“Regardless of whether or not Dr. Wieder knew I left the money, how about the second issue?” asked Dr. Oren. “Since our arrangement was to leave the money in the drawer, I don’t see any reason I should remain responsible!”

“Even if the lender instructs the borrower to throw the money to him, the borrower remains responsible if it gets lost, unless the lender explicitly said that the borrower would be exempt,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “This is because the lender presumably meant: ‘Throw the money, but continue watching it.’ However, if the lender said, ‘Give the money to someone specific,’ or, ‘Leave it in a certain secure place,’ the borrower is exempt even if the lender didn’t explicitly exempt him.” (SM”A, Nesivos 120:1)

The Tischler Brothers Tout Their Commitments To Public Service

13 Elul 5772 – August 30, 2012

Avraham and Moshe Tischler, 20-somethings brothers and ambitious political neophytes, recently met with The Jewish Press editorial board to discuss their current political plans and future prospects.

Avraham, 21, focused on his campaign against Simcha Felder, a former New York City councilman, in the so-called Super Jewish State Senate (district 17) race in southern Brooklyn in the September 13 Democratic primary. Among his chief policy goals, Avraham stressed his commitment to tuition tax credits, creating more jobs in the district, and improving government efficiency – especially the spending of citizens’ tax dollars. If successful, Avraham said he plans to use his office as an educational tool to raise various important issues to his constituents and rally them for their implementations.

Moshe Tischler campaigning on 16th Avenue with Laizer Lichtenstein, a local business owner.

For his part Moshe Tischler, 20, discussed his race against longtime incumbent Dov Hikind for the 48th State Assembly seat. Moshe claimed that he would be more effective than Hikind in the area of tuition tax relief for Yeshiva parents, emphasizing that this would be his top legislative priority in Albany.

Born and raised in Boro Park, the Tischlers said they know firsthand the needs and issues within the community, and have gained the education and insight necessary to understand and serve the community’s needs. With a B.A. degree in psychology and a minor in political science, Avraham has established his acumen on educational issues. And his growing interest in politics has led him to pursue a career in law.

Through his studies, Avraham has become well versed on the issue of the costs of private education. Avraham, declaring that “no child should be deprived of that [school choice] right,” spoke at length about his desire to enact private school tax credit legislation in order to provide parents with financial relief, thus enabling them to exercise the choice of sending their children to private (parochial or non-denominational) or public schools. He explained that city and state government spend close to a combined $20,000 of taxpayer’s dollars per public school student. Parents who send their children to private schools are burdened with those schools’ extra expenses, and Avraham believes that if government provides tax credits to them, parents would gain immediate tax relief. When asked to explain the difference between Felder and his views on this issue, he said, “[Felder] had his opportunity for ten years on the City Council and failed to deliver relief for parents.”

Avraham brings a strong reputation and history of volunteer work in the community. In grade school, he began volunteering in Maimonides Medical Center. He has helped Ohel Bais Ezra recruit young adults to help children with special needs. And he contributes his time to the nonprofit soup kitchen network, Masbia.

These experiences and his unswerving commitment to the community’s needs have made Avraham aware of average people’s struggles in finding jobs, as well as the predicament faced by many businesses that are attempting to maintain their current workforces. Avraham spoke of his plans to help small businesses create more jobs. He said he believes that “small businesses are the key engine to prosperity” and that the fines, regulations and penalties imposed by government are effectively killing those businesses. Avraham detailed the chain reaction of what occurs when a small business is ticketed with an expensive fine, and how that penalty forces them to cut back by possibly laying off some employees – and, in the worst-case scenario, shut down the business altogether.

According to Avraham, Felder did little when serving on the City Council to solve this problem, sponsoring the bill that Mayor Bloomberg proposed to overturn term limits, thereby allowing him to remain in office and continuing to fine and regulate businesses. In Avraham’s view, Felder was essentially a rubber stamp pertaining to the policies of Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Bloomberg.

On the controversial issue of pay raises for lawmakers, Felder voted to increase his own salary by 25 percent. Avraham vowed that if elected, he would vote against a pay raise and challenged Felder to join him in this pledge. As Avraham put it: “When people are struggling and hurting because of the stagnant economy, legislators should not be increasing their pay.”

Never Borrowed!

6 Elul 5772 – August 23, 2012

Mr. Morris was home one evening, when an acquaintance, Mr. Roth, knocked at his door. “May I have a word with you?” Mr. Roth asked.

“Certainly, come in,” Mr. Morris said, welcoming him into the living room.

“Perhaps you’ve forgotten,” Mr. Roth began, “but last year I lent you $500, which you never repaid.”

Mr. Morris scratched his head and thought for a moment. “I never borrowed from you,” he replied.

“You definitely did,” Mr. Roth insisted. “And you never repaid.”

“Do you have any written evidence?” asked Mr. Morris.

“No I don’t,” acknowledged Mr. Roth.

“That just proves I never borrowed,” said Mr. Morris, emphatically.

“No, it doesn’t,” retorted Mr. Roth. “It just proves that I was a fool for not insisting on a written document!” He stood up and left.

Two weeks later, Mr. Morris was summoned to Rabbi Dayan’s bet din. Mr. Roth was asked to present his claim.

“I lent Mr. Morris $500 a year ago, which he hasn’t repaid,” claimed Mr. Roth.

“And what do you say about this?” Rabbi Dayan asked Mr. Morris.

“I never borrowed from Mr. Roth,” claimed Mr. Morris.

Rabbi Dayan turned to Mr. Roth: “Do you have any evidence?” he asked.

“I have two witnesses to the loan,” replied Mr. Roth. Rabbi Dayan called upon the witnesses to present their testimony. Each testified that Mr. Roth lent Mr. Morris $500 in his presence.

Rabbi Dayan asked the witnesses a few basic questions. When he was satisfied with the testimony, he turned to Mr. Morris. “Witnesses have attested to the loan,” he said. “Do you have anything further to say?”

“I would like a month to seek counter-evidence,” requested Mr. Morris. Rabbi Dayan consented to delay the final verdict for a month.

At the second hearing, Rabbi Dayan asked Mr. Morris: “Have you found any evidence to counter the testimony presented last time?”

“Yes, I also have witnesses,” replied Mr. Morris. “They will prove I don’t owe Mr. Roth any money.”

The witnesses testified that Mr. Morris repaid the $500 loan to Mr. Roth four months earlier.

“See, I don’t owe Mr. Roth any money,” Mr. Morris said. “Even if I borrowed, I paid back what I borrowed.” He sat down with a triumphant smile.

Rabbi Dayan requested that Mr. Roth and Mr. Morris exit for a few moments, while the dayanim convened. The two were called in shortly for the ruling:

“Mr. Morris is liable, and must pay the $500,” ruled Rabbi Dayan.

What?!” asked Mr. Morris, shocked. “How can you hold me liable when witnesses state that I already repaid?”

“I will explain the reason,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “There is an important, well-know concept: ‘hoda’as ba’al hadin k’meiah eidim dami’ – the admission of a litigant is like the testimony of a hundred witnesses. In actuality, his admission is believed – to his detriment – more than witnesses! If a person admits he owes, even if witnesses testify that he doesn’t, he remains legally liable.”

“But I didn’t admit anything,” said Mr. Morris. “I deny the charge completely! The witnesses also say I’m exempt!”

“That is correct,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “However, realize that there are two parts to this case: one, whether you borrowed; two, whether you repaid.”

“You initially claimed in court that you never borrowed the money,” continued Rabbi Dayan. “A person who never borrowed doesn’t pay! Thus, implicit in your claim that you didn’t borrow is an admission that you didn’t repay. This is expressed in the Gemara [B.B. 6a] as: kol ha’omer lo lavisi k’omer lo parati dami ­– whoever says, ‘I didn’t borrow,’ is like saying, ‘I didn’t repay.’ ”

“But since there are witnesses to both parts of the case,” reasoned Mr. Morris, “shouldn’t we follow them?”

“In regards to the loan, obviously we accept the witnesses’ testimony that you borrowed, despite your denial otherwise,” explained Rabbi Dayan. “However, regarding repayment, we accept your implicit admission, even against the testimony of the witnesses. Thus, on the one hand, we believe the witnesses that you borrowed. On the other hand, we believe your implicit admission that you didn’t repay.” (79:1,6)

“I don’t understand, though,” insisted Mr. Morris. “All the time, people initially deny outright all kinds of claim, and then come to bet din and adjust their claim and bring witnesses. Are you saying these witnesses are all rendered meaningless?”

More On Family Breakdowns

5 Elul 5772 – August 22, 2012

For the past several weeks this column has featured letters from parents who have experienced rejection and hatred from their children – as well as my suggestions on how to cope with such situations.

This week I would like to share a letter that adds another dimension to the breakdown of so many families in our community. In this instance it’s not the children who have rejected the parents but a parent who has rejected her child.

It is with much sorrow that I publicize these letters, though I feel it is important to do so. It is simply unbelievable that our family life, which was always held sacrosanct and had been a model for all nations, has fallen in so many cases to such a low.

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

We live in Los Angeles. My parents moved here when I was born. Your name was very much a household word in our home. My grandmother of blessed memory was your greatest fan. She always spoke about you with much admiration and respect. She even had the record you made of your Madison Square Garden gathering when you sounded the call to our timeless Torah. She played that record often and I can still hear your electrifying words – “You are a Jew” and “Shema Yisrael” – which ring in my mind and heart to this day.

Since my Bubbie is no longer here to give me advice, I’m turning to you, the Rebbetzin she trusted so much.

My family was no different from others. I have one sister and two brothers. My mom and dad had their issues, disagreements, which at times were very tense. They quarreled – sometimes so loudly that even if we children tried to find sanctuary in our rooms, we still could hear it. However, even with all that discord they never divorced. There were times when there was a cold war between them; nothing was said but the tension was palpable and we were all victimized by it. Even so, they always maintained a home for us, and for all intents and purposes we were a family.

My father had a real estate business and did fairly well. I wasn’t much interested in it since I wanted to go into medicine. Then my father suddenly became ill and I had to help him out. I learned the business easily and came to like it. I especially enjoyed working with my father and we always had a good relationship. He never questioned my integrity and things went well. My younger brothers made their careers in the world of finance and my sister got married and moved to Arizona, where her husband joined his family’s business.

As my father’s illness progressed, I had to take on more and more responsibilities. In my personal life many changes occurred as well. I met a beautiful girl who became my life partner. G-d blessed us with three great kids. Life seemed good, with the exception of my father’s deteriorating health.

The doctor told us my father would need open heart surgery but he assured us that nowadays these procedures were not life threatening. Sadly, the operation was not a success. My beloved father passed away and there was a terrible void my life. True, he had been sick for a long time, but his presence had always been there and that presence was very powerful and strengthened me. My father was not only a parent, he was my mentor and best friend. He was the person who guided me and taught that which I could never have learned at any university. My father was a mighty role model to follow and I will always thank G-d for the privilege of having been his son.

Three years after his passing my nightmare commenced when I received a letter from an attorney whom my mother had engaged. I was shocked. She claimed I had tampered with assets that rightly belonged to her and accused me of theft.

I kept rereading the letter but could not believe it. I could not sleep. I could not eat. Again and again the question kept repeating itself in my mind – how could a mother do this to her son? If she had any grievances, why couldn’t we just talk? Despite everything I swallowed my feelings and called her – but she wouldn’t take my call.

How Peer Pressure Could Help Your Investments

4 Elul 5772 – August 22, 2012

While generally peer pressure is viewed as a negative trait, emulating successful people may help increase your own chances of success. Indeed, if you want to build your wealth, look at successful businesspeople and copy their secrets to success. Try following these golden rules in order to increase your net worth:

1. Have patience. Build your wealth carefully and patiently. As any successful businessman will tell you, wealth doesn’t grow overnight. Each decision was weighed carefully and thoughtfully, without making any rash or impulsive mistakes.

2. Create a financial plan. Successful businesspeople don’t just make random decisions. They have a specific business plan, and they employ others (money managers) to help them. You can do the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale.

3. Invest carefully. Successful companies reinvest their profits in their own development. Keep building your business rather than taking out dividends and resting on your laurels.

4. Consistently monitor. Don’t just open a portfolio and walk away. Keep an eye on your levels of risk and asset allocation, consulting with your financial advisor on a regular basis. Markets and personal circumstances never remain static. So monitor the changes and make sure that your investments keep apace with your changing world.

If you would like some more great ideas on how to build your wealth, consider emulating successful businessmen. I heard a number of great ideas when I interviewed Verne Harnish who wrote a book called Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, which is endorsed by over 100 CEOs. Listen to that interview and please let me know what you think (doug@profile-financial.com).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/radio/goldstein-on-gelt/how-peer-pressure-could-help-your-investments/2012/08/22/

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