Books For Life Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 6

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Dear friends,

Shalom U-vrakhah! Welcome to Issue Number 6 of 'Sefer Ha-Hayim - Books for Life' Newsletter. In this issue you will see how Yashar has improved service to bookstores and book buyers. You will also follow the adventures of the Zoo Rabbi, get previews of upcoming Yashar Books and an introduction to Yashar Books new news and learning portal, and much more...

Thank you,

Gil Student
President, Yashar Books

Find out more about Yashar Books at

Vol. 1, No. 6


1. Yashar Partners with Lambda Publishers
2. Zoo Rabbi on US Tour
3. Coming Soon from Yashar Books
4. Advance Excerpt from Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law
5. Giving Away More Books Online
6. Online Jewish-Learning News-Portal


In order to better serve bookstores and book buyers, Yashar Books, has turned over its distribution to Lambda Publishers. Lambda already has channels of distribution open to many stores, so it will make it easier and more cost-effective for stores to place even small orders, giving readers a wider selection in the stores. Outsourcing our distribution will also allow us to focus on our core mission: developing and disseminating Jewish scholarship. We will continue to encourage book buyers to support their local Jewish bookstores and order Yashar Books from their store, rather than buying directly online.

BOOKSTORES: For orders go to or contact: Lambda Publishers Inc., 3709 13th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11218
Tel: (718) 972-5449; Fax: (718) 972-6307


Best-selling author Rabbi Natan (Nosson) Slifkin took his Zoo Torah train to the USA this summer for a series of zoo and lecture tours. The first appearance was at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, New Jersey. Then there were two lectures in Brooklyn on 'Perek Shirah: The Spiritual Secrets of Nature's Song' and 'The Terror of Dinosaurs: Confronting the Challenges of Creation, Dinosaurs, and the Age of the Universe.' Next was an Advanced Seminar in Kew Gardens Hills. Rabbi Slifkin was also scholar in residence for Shabbat at Congregation Ahavat Achim in Fair Lawn NJ and will come to Los Angeles Sunday, July 17 for a Torah Tour of the Los Angels Zoo. Details of his schedule can be found at this website:


"Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law" by Aaron Levine. Rabbi Aaron Levine uses the case study method he pioneered to present and analyze moral dilemmas of the marketplace from the perspective of American law, secular business ethics, and Jewish law. Moral dilemmas from everyday life give the reader a better understanding of halakhic concepts as well as practical answers for commonplace dilemmas.

"Medicine and Jewish Law, Volume 3," edited by Fred Rosner and Robert Schulman. Doctors Fred Rosner and Robert Schulman present a volume of essays by distinguished authors on contemporary medical issues and halakhah. This volume includes a symposium on infertility and a symposium on genetics and essays on end of life issues. Dr. Abraham S. Abraham gives readers a rare inside glimpse of the halakhic process with his private conversations with R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and R. Yosef Shalom Eliashiv about cloning; R. Tzvi Flaum explores the subject of living donor organ transplants; and R. J. David Bleich investigates the ethical issues surrounding genetic screening; and much more.

"Gray Matter, Volume 2," by Chaim Jachter. Rabbi Chaim Jachter, with characteristic clarity, offers entry into the thorniest of halakhic issues, giving overviews of the concerns and surveying the different opinions. Topics covered include: Fulfilling mitzvot through electric devices; the Beit Din system in today's world; kashering conventional ovens, microwaves and dishwashers for Pesach; infertility in the Orthodox community; and a poignant, penetrating look at the resolution of agunah questions arising from the tragedy of the destruction of the World Trade Center.

"Rabbi Joel Sirkes: The Bach" by Elijah J. Schochet. Rabbi Elijah J. Schochet's authoritative 1971 biography of Rabbi Joel Sirkes, "The Bach," is finally being reprinted along with his 1973 translation and analysis of a lost work of the Bach. Readers interested in candid, methodical biographies of great Torah personalities will be greatly rewarded by this book. The author provides much-needed background of the history of Polish Jewry and its sociopolitical make-up, putting the great accomplishments of the Bach in proper context, for a deeper understanding. Rabbi Schochet discusses the great controversies of the Bach's life as well as analyzing his many works that have been so influential in Jewish law.


(Due to space constraints, we can only present Rabbi Levine's analysis of dina de-malkhuta dina, without footnotes, and not the conclusion of the issue he raises at the beginning. Sorry. -Gil)

In a "post-employment restrictive covenant" an employee agrees, upon being employed, to conform to certain conditions following termination of employment with his or her present employer. Thus, for example, a restrictive covenant might include an agreement by the employee not to enter, postemployment, into the same business for a specified or unlimited time period within a specified geographic area. Other clauses of the covenant could relate to trade secrets, confidential business practices, and customer lists. Our purpose here will be to investigate how employee agreements not to compete are treated from the perspective of American law, economic theory, and Halakhah...

From the perspective of Halakhah, perhaps the most basic issue to consider with regard to post-employment agreements is whether Samuel's dictum of "the law of the kindgom is the law" (dina de-malkhuta dina) applies. The dictum relates to disputes between Jews in matters of civil law. Four views regarding the scope of this rule can be identified.

1. Taking the narrowest view on the scope of dina de-malkhuta dina is R. Joseph Caro (Israel, 1488-1575). In his view, Halakhah recognizes dina de-malkhuta only with respect to matters in which the government has a financial stake, such as taxes and currency regulation.

2. Adopting a much wider scope for dina de-malkhuta is R. Mosheh Isserles (Poland, 1525 or 1530-1572). In his view, dina de-malkhuta applies to civil law generally. Conflict between Halakhah and dina demalkhuta, in his view, is generally decided in favor of dina de-malkhuta. There are exceptions to this rule, however. It does not hold in relation to the law of inheritance, nor does it give Jews the option of taking their dispute to secular courts. Moreover, dina de-malkhuta is recognized only when the law involved either benefits the government or was enacted for the benefit of the people of the land.

3. Disputing R. Isserles is R. Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen (Poland, 1621-1662), who avers that in litigation between Jews, the law of the land is valid only when the non-Jewish law does not contradict Halakhah, or in a case where the practical application of Halakhah is not clear.

4. Reacting to R. Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen, R. Abraham Isaiah Karelitz (Israel, 1878-1953) sharply disputes the notion that lacunae exist in Halakhah. For any issue, a halakhic position can be extrapolated from legal precedents and rules. But following R. Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen, he agrees that, if dina de-malkhuta contradicts Halakhah, even if the Halakhah was derived by means of extrapolation, the law of the land must be set aside.

Many decisors regard R. Isserles' position as normative. If we adopt R. Isserles' view, secular law's treatment of post-employment covenants in a given state should prevail. The matter cannot, however, be resolved so simply. Currently, there is no legislation on this matter. Instead, the legal treatment of post-employment covenants not to compete is entirely a matter of common law. Judges use their discretion to decide how post-employment covenants not to compete should be treated. Common law often follows precedent, but judges are not bound by it. What, we must therefore ask, is the scope of dina de-malkhuta dina? Does it apply only to legislation, or does it extend even to common law? Addressing himself to this issue, R. Isserles rules, quoting R. Solomon b. Abraham Adret (Spain, ca. 1235-1310), that dina de-malkhuta applies only to laws of the government, but does not apply to the discretionary authority of judges who make use of their own books of laws to decide cases. Giving legitimacy to the law of judges is tantamount to nullifying the law of the Torah. Following this line of thought, R. Jekhutiel Asher Zalman Zausmir (Poland, d. 1858) describes the law of judges as discretionary decisions based on Greek and Roman law and innovations required by new conditions. In disputes between Jews, the law of judges should not be followed; instead, the law of the Torah should prevail. Dina de-malkhuta has its application only in laws the king directly promulgates. In his treatment of this issue, the contemporary scholar R. Shelomo Dikhovsky (Israel) points out that legislation is also subject to judicial interpretation. What sets common law apart is that common law is not an interpretation of the king's edict but instead gives the judge wide latitude to base his or her decision on other systems of law.

The upshot of this analysis is that in a dispute between Jews in a matter relating to a post-employment covenant not to compete, dina de-malkhuta does not prevail. We therefore must proceed beyond trying to resolve the issue by appeal to dina de-malkhuta dina, and instead extrapolate the halakhic perspective on the post-employment covenant not to compete.


Just in time before Pesach, Yashar Books' Open Access project posted a new free book online: 'You Shall Tell Your Son: Essays on Pesach and the Haggadah,' by Rabbi David Jay Derovan. You can get the jump on next Pesach by downloading it for free at And don't miss "History vs. Storytelling" from the foreword to the now unavailable "The Making of a Godol," by R. Nathan Kamenetsky. Coming soon, a valuable dissertation on medieval commentaries to Pirkei Avot, by Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein.


Yashar Books Newsroom -- -- is a new information center serving the media, scholars, researchers and students. The Internet has changed society in previously unimaginable ways. It has affected the way we learn, the way we ask questions, the way we find out about news, the way we communicate with each other, even the way we make friends. Today, people with questions about Judaism are less likely to call a rabbi. They go right to the Web. This creates a responsibility for Jewish scholars to provide accurate information, and to make it easily accessible. In order to better serve those looking for fast, reliable answers to questions of Jewish thought, Yashar Books has added a Jewish learning portal to its website. It consists of three integrated components with links to news and both contemporary and classical sources of Jewish scholarship:

The Yashar Books Newsroom -- -- offers headline news about Yashar Books, a news archive, contact information and artwork, including book covers and photos of authors. For questions not answered on the site, the Newsroom provides a "Yashar Answers" service to personally handle questions on Jewish thought. The Newsroom links directly to Yashar's Reading Room page virtual Jewish library and study hall, and the Open Access Project online collection of free articles, essays and books with an open discussion forum.

Please join us. "Books for Life" is meant to be your newsletter. Send us your thoughts on our books or suggestions for new ones. From time to time, we will quote reader's letters.

Thanks again for joining us!

Gil Student

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