Rabbi Meir Orlean
The spiritual heights of the holidays were over, but they had left their imprint. Benny decided to work on weekends as a counselor for handicapped children. He applied to the Special Neshamos organization run by Mr. Hauser. After an initial interview and return of the application form, he was called back.
“It is likely that we will have a position for you,” Mr. Hauser said. “We need you to fill out additional forms before confirmation. Also, do you have CPR certification?”
“No,” replied Benny. “Do I need it?”
“We require that all our staff have First Aid/CPR/AED certification,” answered Mr. Hauser. “We arrange courses with the Red Cross for our prospective staff.”
“Do you cover the cost?” asked Benny.
“No, each person pays for himself directly to the Red Cross,” replied Mr. Hauser. “It’s $100. There is one starting in a week, if you’d like.”
Benny registered, took the course and received certification.
Two weeks later, Mr. Hauser called Benny. “We’ve had a very large number of excellent applicants,” he said. “We are not able to accommodate them all. We appreciate your qualifications and willingness to work but unfortunately cannot offer you a position.”
Benny was very disappointed. “I was looking forward to working with the children,” he said. “I was also counting on the additional income for the year.”
“I understand,” Mr. Hauser comforted him, “but the situation is that we cannot accept you.”
“You also made me spend $100 for the CPR course,” Benny complained. “It turned out to be a needless expense! At the least, you should compensate me for the cost of the course.”
“First of all, we never promised you a position,” replied Mr. Hauser. “Second, you gained the knowledge of the course.”
“But I would not have taken the course had you not told me that I needed it,” argued Benny. “Can I raise the issue with Rabbi Dayan?”
“Certainly,” said Mr. Hauser. “Let me know what he says.”
Benny called Rabbi Dayan. “Does Special Neshamos have to compensate me $100 for the course?” he asked.
“When you incur expenses based upon an arrangement with or the instructions of another, sometimes you are entitled to compensation if he does not follow through,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “For example, if two people arranged a court date in a distant city and one did not appear, he is liable for the travel expenses of his opponent. According to many authorities this is considered garmi, directly caused damage” (Rema, C.M. 14:5).
“Chavos Yair (#168) extrapolates from this to families from distant places who planned a wedding, but the chassan did not arrive at the appointed time,” continued Rabbi Dayan. “He is liable for the unnecessary wedding expenses that the kallah incurred, unless there was sufficient cause for his delay or absence” (Pischei Teshuvah, C.M. 14:15).
“Would this apply in our case?” asked Benny.
“Here, the organization is exempt for a few reasons,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “First, CPR training is of value for any person. Although most people take the course in the context of job requirements, many people take it for their edification and personal knowledge. At some point you may now be able to save a life! Thus, even had the organization misled you intentionally and instructed you to take the course unnecessarily, they would only be liable for partial compensation. The amount that the average person would spend for this knowledge is not a loss, and would be deducted” (see Sma 333:30).
“Moreover, Mr. Hauser never promised you a position or demanded that you take the course then,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “You knew that you needed confirmation and should have considered the possibility that you might not be accepted; you could have waited to take the course.
“Additionally, perhaps there was sincere intent to hire you, but due to the large number of candidates it was not possible, which could be considered sufficient cause. Therefore, they are exempt.”