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From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu> Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 01:21:17 -0400 (EDT) Subject: Use of Contract law to answer the Kosher Supervision Question Eli Clark in v29n31 gave a very eloquent defense of the "two sides" to the Kashruth issue. On the one hand the orginazations were simply asked to certify food as Kosher while on the other hand they could be perceived as being asked to certify that the entire atmosphere of the restaurant is OK Unfortunately such a perspective proves that there is only one way to act! It is a universal principle in contract law that whenever a contract is ambiguous then it is interpreted restrictively not liberally. For example, suppose I sell Joe my field. But I have 2 fields. Then Joe gets the field of inferior quality because the contract is interpreted restrictively not liberally. This principle "The owner of the document has the lower hand" occurs in several places in commercial law (the only exception being the case of gifts) (See e.g. Loans 27:16 or Sales 21:17-21). It immediately follows that if my contract with an orginazation reads Supervise Kashruth then that contract MUST be interpreted restrictively (Kosher food) and not liberally (Kosher atmosphere). Let me summarize the above with principles that I think everyone (!?!?) might agree on: 1) We all agree that if the Jewish community were structued with two types of orginazations (one that certified food and one that certified atmosphere) then no one would object to each orginazation doing their thing 2) Similarly we all agree that people can contract with whom they wish 3) So the only place of disagreement is where there is one type of supervisory orginazation (For KASHRUTH) and they already contracted with the restaurant and then want to withdraw their Kashruth because the atmosphere of the restaurant is bad (because of live singing). But then the whole issue is whether the owner of a contract can interpret liberally vs restrictively which contradicts the whole of Jewish commercial law. In closing I think all the postings till now have done alot of good..for they have spoken about WHETHER we should have orginazations that supervise atmosphere. But the issue of whether an orginazation can withdraw because it wants to expand its role I think is clear cut. Russell Hendel; Phd ASA; Moderator Rashi Is Simple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/