Shabbat Parashat Korach| 5765
Competition (Hasagat G’vul) among Bar-mitzva Teachers - Based on Piskei Din Rabbaniim - vol. VI, pp. 90-96
Case: A man served as a teacher of bar-mitzva boys in a certain neighborhood for many years. In recent years, someone from a different neighborhood began taking students from the area. The former sued the latter for damages and to prevent him from continuing to teach boys in the area.
Ruling: The plaintiff (=pl)cannot prevent the defendant (=def)from accepting students from the former’s neighborhood for a few possible reasons.
1) Although a person from one city can prevent someone from another city from opening a competing business, the gemara (BavaBatra 21b) leaves it as an unsolved question whether a person from one neighborhood can prevent someone from another neighborhood within the city. Most poskim, including the Rif and Rambam, rule that, given the gemara’s doubt, one cannot prevent the competitor from opening his business. Some understand that the gemara’s issue is that of the neighbors’ complaints about the noise the business brings into their area, not that of competition. However, even according to that understanding of the gemara, the Beit Yosef says that the claim of competition is also not accepted.
The Aviasaf does say that where competition not only reduces the plaintiff’s livelihood but effectively ruins it, we accept his complaint. However, the Aviasaf discusses a competitor whose location gives him such an unfair advantage that it is hard for the plaintiff to hold clientele (Chatam Sofer, CM 179). Thus, the Aviasaf’s minority opinion doesn’t apply to our case.
2) Rav Huna (Bava Batra, ibid.) says that in the area of Torah education, we allow competitors from the outside, out of a conviction that competition is likely to improve the level of the teaching. The only question is whether in this case, where the teacher(s) may not focus on cardinal matters such as the laws of tefillin but may stress the aliya to the Torah and the bar-mitzva speech, this special dispensation may not apply.
3) The halachot of hasagat g’vul can only prevent someone from operating in another’s area. In our case, def teaches in his home and does not even visit pl’sarea to look for clientele.
4) It seems that the concept of hasagat g’vul applies only to areas of enterprise that are local in nature. However, professions where there is usually no connection between where one lives and one’s clientele, these laws should not apply. The Talmudic precedent for this idea is in Bava Batra (ibid.) that on days that there is a “market day,” when outsiders come in to sale their wares, they can do so in public areas, as long as they do not go into residential areas to look for buyers.
For a combination of these reasons, the plaintiff’s demands are rejected.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated
to the memory of R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.,
Yitzchak Eliezer Ben Avraham Mordechai Jacobson o.b.m.