Rabbi Yosef Kushner Leads Two-Day Yarchei Kallah At LINK Kollel in L.A.
Rabbi Eli Stern
The LINK Kollel in Los Angeles hosted a two-day yarchei kallah during the legal holiday on December 31st and January 1st on the subject of “Unfair Business Competition.” The maggid shiur was Rabbi Yosef Kushner of the Bais HaVaad of Lakewood, New Jersey. The shiurim each day were proceeded by a two-hour seder limud in the relevant sources in Shas and poskim with the avreichim of the kollel learning b’chavrusa with the numerous baal habatim who attended.
Rabbi Kushner is well-known for his two sefarim on contemporary halachic issues, Commerce and Shabbos and Commerce and Issurei Hana’ah. In particular, his sefarim are a model of clarity, felicity of expression, and demonstrate an acute awareness of the intricacies of today’s business world based on the psakim of his esteemed father-in-law, HaRav Shlomo Miller, shlita. Rabbi Kushner’s oral presentations were extremely deep, plus he has a very engaging, warm style that also exhibits a good sense of humor. He demonstrated unlimited patience in answering numerous questions both during and after the shiurim, touching upon many practical business applications.
The learning was divided into two major sugyos. On the first day, the famous sugya of “Ani HaM’hapaich B’chararah” was used to illustrate the question of what is considered “stealing” someone else’s deal (or intellectual property). The Gemara discusses a well-known case of where one fisherman sets out bait to attract fish and another fisherman swoops in and “steals” the fish that had been attracted. This is the paradigm for any situation where one businessman is about to consummate a deal and his competitor encroaches and tries to steal the deal by offering sweeter terms to the client who is about to agree to the former’s terms. The Gemara terms such an interloper a “rasha” (and he is so labeled in the community), but there is no mechanism for the beis din to undo his actions.
On the next day, the learning centered around the sugya of “Yoreid L’soch Umnoso Shel Chaveiro.” This entails trying to steal away a client that another Jew regularly does business with—for example, trying to convince a business to switch to another insurance company, title company, or credit card processing company. When the beis din determines that the second businessman has unlawfully encroached and stolen this client, this is called “marufia” and they can intervene to nullify this transaction as being unfair. Rabbi Kushner proceeded to give many practical examples delineating exactly when it would be permissible for a competitor to make an offer to someone else’s existing client.
As an added bonus, Rabbi Kushner gave a special shiur on Monday evening, December 31st, delineating a number of not so-well-known halachic problems in the area of yichud at work and in the home. In particular, he focused on the case of one man being “alone” with one woman, which is a Torah prohibition. According to the opinion of Rashi (which is followed by many poskim), the heter (dispensation) of “baila b’ir” (fear of the husband being in town) would not apply in this case. He spoke about how the issues of yichud would affect a speech therapist working in people’s homes, a repairman coming to one’s house, or a cleaning lady working in someone’s home. He also discussed the question of two women and one man in an office situation.
The yarchei kallah attracted a full house to all of Rabbi Kushner’s presentations. Those who attended avidly asked many questions and Rabbi Kushner obliged them long after his shiurim were finished.