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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 19, 2007 / 11 Kislev 5768

Short notice cancellation

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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They cancelled a few hours before the party. Am I entitled to reparations?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: I'm a photographer. Recently someone cancelled on me only a few hours before a party, telling me that hired someone else instead. Am I entitled to reparations?


A: When someone hires a worker, the expectation on both sides is that the work will be performed as agreed and paid for as agreed. But life is full of surprises, and things sometimes don't work out that way. Then the sides are stuck trying to figure out a fair arrangement in the new and unexpected reality. The principles of fairness in this situation are so important in Jewish law that an entire chapter of the Talmud is devoted to them.


The guiding principle is set out in the Mishnah at the beginning of the chapter: "Anyone who deviates [from the original agreement] has the lower hand, and anyone who reneges has the lower hand." (1) Having the lower hand means that they are responsible for ensuring that the other side is no worse off than if the change or renege never took place.


There are two conditions needed for reparations to be due. One is that there is an actual loss. The Talmud states: "One who hires workers and they misled the employer, or the employer misled them [by reneging], they have [no claim but] only resentment. When does this apply? When they didn't go. But if they went . . . he must give them their full salary." (2)


The commentators explain that "if they went" is only an example. Typically once the workers go to the site they can't find work for that day, but if the job is cancelled before they go, they can. The general principle is that whenever enough notice is given for the workman to find alternative work there is no loss and no claim. Likewise if he wouldn't have found any work even had he not been hired, the worker is not entitled to recompense unless he actually went to the workplace, which is considered beginning the workday. (3)

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The other condition is that the employer is exempt in the case of duress. The example in the Talmud is as follows: "When someone hires workers to plow and then rain came and filled the field with water: If he surveyed the field in the evening, the workers lose; if he did not survey the field, it is the owner's loss." (4)


The guiding principle is that if the owner made every effort to make sure the work still needs to be carried out, but due to an unforeseeable duress the task becomes impossible at the last minute, the owner is exempt. He went to the field the night before, and saw that it was dry and that no storm was imminent.


In your case, a loss occurs if you turned down another job in order to free yourself up for this one, but now it is too late for you to find work for that evening. In this case the employer has to make up your loss. In practice, he doesn't have to pay the full amount of your bill since by sitting home you lose the income but you save yourself significant effort and expense. The employer can deduct a reasonable evaluation of your benefit from being able to sit at home. (This is often assumed to be about half the salary.)


If you couldn't have found alternate work anyway, or alternatively if you can still find alternate work paying a similar amount, then the cancellation doesn't actually cause any loss. You are no worse than you were before, except for the effort of finding a new job or the disappointment of losing the old one.


That doesn't mean that canceling an agreement should be taken lightly in such a case. The Mishnah states that the worker is justified in being resentful of the employer's thoughtless behavior. Some authorities state that this may be considered unfair dealing (mechusar amanah,). (5)

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 76a. (2) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 76b (3) Rosh commentary to this passage (4) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 77a (5) Sema commentary to Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 333:1

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.

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