Siyum Hashas on eBay controversy….

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  • #618818
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    A listing for sponsorship of a private Siyum Hashas was posted last week on eBay, picked up by two Frum news sites and got mostly negative reaction from commenters who overall felt that eBay was not the proper place to auction off hachzokas HaTorah, that it was an inappropriate way of making money off Torah study and questioned where the proceeds were going and how much money the middle man was going to make.

    Today, the auction seller updated his listing explaining that he listed the auction on behalf of his son, giving more personal background to the story and asking for help in his search for someone who would be genuinely interested in what he believes is a unique opportunity for the right person.

    Is it ever appropriate to look for Torah sponsors on eBay?

    Do you feel that in this case the father is justified?

    Were the commenters too quick to rush to judgment? Should they have been dan lekaf zechus?

    I may not have provided enough details in my description here but it’s hard to summarize everything in a relatively short post and the full story is described in detail in today’s update in the item description which can be found by searching eBay for “Siyum Hashas”

    #1199486
    iacisrmma
    Participant

    Probably would have been better to use gofundme.

    #1199487
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    Better financially or better as far as the controversy?

    #1199488
    iacisrmma
    Participant

    Both

    #1199489
    Lightbrite
    Participant

    Gofundme -Easier to clarify intent to the public and advertise I would think.

    I wonder why eBay was chosen as the platform. Then again he may have used multiple sites and only this one had controversy. Or maybe he already had an eBay account and figured it was worthwhile opportunity or risk for a good cause. Or eBay would be more private and give him more control over who sponsors and for how much.

    I presume that he had a great need and was limited in local outlets or options.

    It may embarrass him to have so many people attack his motives and actions. I’m guessing it hurts to be publicly shamed. Either way that part at least is against halacha.

    Unless one wants to argue that he is descecrating the Torah and this needs to be publicly shunned, maybe if anything they could have rewarded his creativity.

    It doesn’t sound like there is any scam here. Maybe it is against halacha because we’re not supposed to profit from Torah. And eBay is a commerce site. EBay sellers are small business owners.

    If there was something much bigger to report at the time, would the news sites still publish this story?

    #1199490
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    Before I posted here I read the entire listing on eBay and because it was long I only referred to it in my first post.

    Having read the whole thing it’s not so hard to see their thinking and therefore why eBay is a more natural fit.

    But firstly, aside from what they actually posted, I would not be at all surprised if the son who is finishing Shas doesn’t want to announce it to the whole world and there is no anonymity on GoFundMe.

    Secondly, having read the listing in detail, if we take the father at his word in his Update, as much as this was not obvious to the commenters who wrote before knowing the full story, as much as it is very common to sell the zchus of learning – it’s done the whole time by every Yeshiva and Kollel who sell sponsorships le’iluy neshomo etc., as he explained they did not want to sell Torah Study itself to avoid commercializing – and so they decided to focus more on selling the zchus of the celebration of the Siyum and include the zchus of the learning on the side. Although they could have done that on GoFundMe too, it’s also clear from the original auction listing that it’s more personal when it’s an exclusive one-to-one match, one sponsor to one mesayem and especially so when they both celebrate together – which would not work at all on GoFundMe which is crowd-funding.

    It seems to me that what they are offering is a unique niche, but I am not sure whether they’ll find any takers. The father, for his part wrote that he believes that someone, somewhere will be interested and giving detailed suggestions in the listing he suggested how anyone can take no more than a few minutes to get a share in the mitzva at no cost by helping to spread the word.

    #1199491

    You get 100 eBay bucks if you buy it.

    #1199492
    Participant

    Probably would have been better to use gofundme.

    He’s looking for a single sponsor to share the celebration, not a group of sponsors.

    #1199493
    apushatayid
    Participant

    How gullible can some people be?

    #1199494
    iacisrmma
    Participant

    The last time I checked there were still no bidders. The way I read the story, his son will complete shas in a year, not that he is already close to finishing. I personally feel that the father would have had a better chance to offer a Yissachar-Zevulun arrangement then the chance to join in the siyum (transportation costs to be paid by the bidder). I am not sure if this is any worse then a few years ago when they offered the zechus of bidding on Maftir Yona for the Rebbe (I don’t remember which Rebbe).

    #1199495

    Isn’t this a violation of ebay’s policy not to list intangible items? Someone tried selling heaven once and the listing was removed for that reason.

    #1199496
    147
    Participant

    I know someone who procured a Kosher Sepher Torah on ebay, so I cannot fathom what this whole issue is all about.

    #1199497
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    iacisrmma:

    1) it’s still over a day to the auction end and people often wait until very close to the auction end

    2) there is already one bid

    #1199498
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    Gamanit:

    1) Sponsoring an activity is not intangible in the way that selling heaven is

    2) Neither is being guest of honor at a seudas siyum and being able to invite up to 25 guests

    #1199500
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    apushatayid:

    How gullible can some people be?

    If you mean that it’s obviously bogus, the guy posting it is a long time eBay member with 100% positive feedback and unlikely to be playing any games.

    Plus the bidder on the auction is also a member with a 100% history and so while it’s easy to throw around anonymous comments on this thread and look smart by being skeptical it’s something else entirely to bid $9,700. That’s putting one’s money where one’s mouth is – or in my opinion smart money.

    #1199501

    It says the highest bidder is l***d. I wonder if it’s lilmod ulelamaid.

    #1199502
    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    Yeah, well, I got nervous because Joseph keeps posting that the only way for a girl to get to Olam Haba is by supporting her husband and sons’ learning. So I got scared that I wouldn’t have a cheilik in Olam Haba.

    Now I have to figure out where I’m getting the money from. Any offers?

    #1199503

    BenBagBag, you aren’t by any chance the father, are you?

    #1199504
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    DaasYochid:

    BenBagBag, you aren't by any chance the father, are you?

    That would be something to have a son who has finished Shas multiple times and is about to finish it in a year. It would also be something to be able to come off with a stunt like that eBay auction.

    I actually saw the listing, was moved by what the father had written in the aftermath of the criticism he got (it’s since been updated and changed and sanitized) and so I decided to come on here to do my bit to help get out the word because I am not in the league of actually being able to bid on that auction.

    tizke l’mitzvos

    #1199505

    That’s not really a denial, you know.

    #1199506
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    That’s not really a denial, you know.

    I’m not into head games or conspiracy theories. You want to believe that I am the father, I won’t try and deprive you.

    #1199507

    If you’re not, I don’t know why you can’t just come out and say, “I’m not the father”.

    #1199508

    if he is, in fact, trying to remain anonymous, what benefit is there in making him admit he’s the dad?

    #1199509
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    If you’re not, I don’t know why you can’t just come out and say, “I’m not the father”.

    Maybe I’m too proud, maybe I’m just human, but to tell it like it is DaasYochid I don’t want to be interrogated.

    #1199510
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    You are allowed to sell “Experiences” on eBay meaning something like batting practice at yankee stadium

    This appears to fall into that category. Its not really a Tzdekah so gofundme really wouldnt work as its not really a charity

    I applaud the seller for thinking outside the box, To raise funds you need sometimes to think outside the box

    The only issues I see are the following

    THE SELLER WILL MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO AMICABLY RESOLVE ALL ISSUES TO THE MUTUAL SATISFACTION OF BOTH PARTIES. ANY OUTSTANDING UNRESOLVED ISSUES WILL BE REFERRED TO ARBITRATION OF THE JEWISH COURT OF LAW CHOSEN BY THE SELLER AT THE TIME OF SALE AND ALL DISPUTES WILL BE GOVERNED BY JEWISH RELIGIOUS TORAH LAW.

    This is against ebay rules, anytime there is a dispute with an eBay listing you have to go through eBay for resolution. (Its their platform, they have the right to make any rules they want and if you dont like it, dont list there)

    This Is also illegal according to eBay rules, You cannot make an open auction and deny a winning bidder, its against the rules (You can make a Pre-approved buyer auction, which is what the seller should have done)

    1) TALMUD SPONSORSHIP IS A PART OF JEWISH RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE AND THUS UNFORTUNATELY AT THIS TIME BIDDING ON THIS AUCTION IS LIMITED TO THOSE WHO ARE JEWISH BY UNIVERSAL STANDARDS ACCEPTED BY ALL JEWISH COMMUNITIES.

    Is also illegal according to eBay rules

    #1199511

    How does anonymity change if he would say he’s the father?

    #1199512

    because then he wouldn’t be anonymous to anyone who knows him. i think the point was respecting privacy/boundaries on personal issues.

    #1199513
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    Very interesting issues raised by zahava’s dad, she may well be a lucky girl.

    I’m no expert or authority on this, I don’t control the rules, and I only came here to get out the word, but since more discussion is likely to get the word out more, here’s my personal 2c for whatever that’s worth:

    Its not really a Tzdekah so gofundme really wouldnt work as its not really a charity

    Interestingly enough GoFundMe works for any cause charity or not as is clear from their front page.

    THE SELLER WILL MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO AMICABLY RESOLVE ALL ISSUES TO THE MUTUAL SATISFACTION OF BOTH PARTIES. ANY OUTSTANDING UNRESOLVED ISSUES WILL BE REFERRED TO ARBITRATION OF THE JEWISH COURT OF LAW CHOSEN BY THE SELLER AT THE TIME OF SALE AND ALL DISPUTES WILL BE GOVERNED BY JEWISH RELIGIOUS TORAH LAW.

    This is against ebay rules, anytime there is a dispute with an eBay listing you have to go through eBay for resolution. (Its their platform, they have the right to make any rules they want and if you dont like it, dont list there)

    Actually eBay themselves say the opposite – from their site,

    “Many problems are misunderstandings that can be worked out when members talk to one another. The first thing we recommend is for the buyer and seller to communicate…

    If you aren’t able to work things out after communicating with your buyer or seller, you can contact us.”

    This Is also illegal according to eBay rules, You cannot make an open auction and deny a winning bidder, its against the rules (You can make a Pre-approved buyer auction, which is what the seller should have done)

    Selling and buying on eBay are a legal contract and so obviously that has to be taken into account in any dispute – but ultimately, much as I am not a lawyer, I believe that the buyer would legally be required to go to arbitration by a Beis Din as per the terms and conditions of the auction which eBay does not ammend in any way, and if the buyer complains to eBay, eBay would not be able to do anything other than tell the buyer to go to arbitration as per the auction Terms

    1) TALMUD SPONSORSHIP IS A PART OF JEWISH RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE AND THUS UNFORTUNATELY AT THIS TIME BIDDING ON THIS AUCTION IS LIMITED TO THOSE WHO ARE JEWISH BY UNIVERSAL STANDARDS ACCEPTED BY ALL JEWISH COMMUNITIES.

    Is also illegal according to eBay rules

    Firstly eBay accepts the right of a buyer to cancel – there’s just the issue of potential negative feedback and potential legal consequences of breach of contract which here would not apply due to the terms explicitly excluding anyone other than Jews and secondly the seller would almost certainly win in a Beis Din in demanding that the buyer cancel his bid.

    #1199514

    Nobody is anonymous to people who know them…

    Unless you mean that they will know that he opened an account on the CR to plug his eBay solicitation pretending to be an uninvolved person. I can live with that.

    #1199515

    Actually eBay themselves say the opposite – from their site,

    “Many problems are misunderstandings that can be worked out when members talk to one another. The first thing we recommend is for the buyer and seller to communicate…

    If you aren’t able to work things out after communicating with your buyer or seller, you can contact us.”

    It seems they say if you can’t work it out, they should arbitrate, not a beis din. OTOH, maybe agreeing in advance to a specific arbitrator would be considered communication and working it out…

    Firstly eBay accepts the right of a buyer to cancel – there’s just the issue of potential negative feedback and potential legal consequences of breach of contract which here would not apply due to the terms explicitly excluding anyone other than Jews and secondly the seller would almost certainly win in a Beis Din in demanding that the buyer cancel his bid.

    I think it’s unlikely that eBay would be okay with discrimination as long as it’s spelled out in advance. It would also be unlikely for someone who’s not a frum Yid to accept a psak from a beis din.

    #1199516

    People who know the person with this screen name might not know he is the father. Why is that hard to understand, and what did he do to deserve such negativity from you?

    #1199517

    How would anyone know who the person with this screen name is? And if someone did, they would probably know that he’s selling the sponsorship (or will when the siyum happens).

    I don’t know for a fact that this poster is the father, I merely asked the question. If he is, I think there’s a lack of integrity here. Although to be fair, he could have outright lied and said it’s not him.

    #1199518
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    Unless you mean that they will know that he opened an account on the CR to plug his eBay solicitation pretending to be an uninvolved person. I can live with that.

    If that were what happened here I could live with that too. What I won’t do is be second-guessed and interrogated. That doesn’t work for me. Maybe I’m being difficult, but right now that’s all I am prepared to do.

    #1199519
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    I don’t know for a fact that this poster is the father, I merely asked the question. If he is, I think there’s a lack of integrity here.

    Here at least I see where DaasYochid would at least have some sort of point. If I were the father I would be getting myself into potential issues of geneivas daas.

    #1199520
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “the guy posting it is a long time eBay member with 100% positive feedback and unlikely to be playing any games”

    As a buyer, not a seller.

    “Plus the bidder on the auction is also a member with a 100% history”

    Yes, 100% of this users bids, have been with this seller, for this item.

    “and so while it’s easy to throw around anonymous comments on this thread”

    It is just as easy to be anonymopus on ebay when you are not actually buying anything.

    “it’s something else entirely to bid $9,700.”

    not when you know you have zero to lose when you are the seller and bidder, or are in cahoots with the seller and you know you are not on the hook for 97 cents, let alone 9700 dollars.

    “That’s putting one’s money where one’s mouth is – or in my opinion smart money.”

    Or, in my opinion, a great practical joke.

    #1199521
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    apushatayid, thank you for helping me get the word out. I understand your thinking but you overlook a couple of things.

    “the guy posting it is a long time eBay member with 100% positive feedback and unlikely to be playing any games”

    As a buyer, not a seller.

    Buyers don’t want to ruin their reputation either and a cancelled auction will get a negative review.

    “Plus the bidder on the auction is also a member with a 100% history”

    Yes, 100% of this users bids, have been with this seller, for this item.

    No, that’s 100% of their recent auction bids. You are ignoring that this bidder has 100% feedback on their purchases – so we’re dealing with someone who has had a real presence and positive transaction history and not a new user with 0 feedback.

    “and so while it’s easy to throw around anonymous comments on this thread”

    It is just as easy to be anonymopus on ebay when you are not actually buying anything.

    It might be anonymous in the sense that it’s not information available to the general public but there are real personal consequences about entering into a legal contract by bidding on eBay.

    “it’s something else entirely to bid $9,700.”

    not when you know you have zero to lose when you are the seller and bidder, or are in cahoots with the seller and you know you are not on the hook for 97 cents, let alone 9700 dollars.

    You are completely overlooking the fact that if this auction completes which we will see in less than 24 hours then the seller will have to pay eBay the final fee of 10% up to $750 (in this case $750) and the only way to get that back is to persuade eBay that there was a legitimate reason to back out on the deal.

    “That’s putting one’s money where one’s mouth is – or in my opinion smart money.”

    Or, in my opinion, a great practical joke.

    The seller cannot be in cahoots with the whole world. What’s to stop a serious person from, Brooklyn, Far Rockaway or maybe Lakewood who feels that this is a great cause and is really excited to bid, then goes on and wins only to be told that it’s all a joke?

    Aside from the terrible avla involved in such a thing, eBay will certainly not waive the $750 final fee and the buyer will almost certainly leave very negative feedback.

    In the real world this would not be funny at all and so if you ask me if this auction completes which we will know in less than 24 hours you can be sure it’s no joke.

    #1199522
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    If a buyer doesnt pay, the eBay fees will be waved

    #1199523
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    It seems they say if you can’t work it out, they should arbitrate, not a beis din. OTOH, maybe agreeing in advance to a specific arbitrator would be considered communication and working it out…

    Again, I am not a lawyer, but the bottom line here as it seems to me is that any terms that are listed in the auction are automatically a part of the legal contract between buyer and seller and are therefore fully legally binding. eBay does not claim the right to ammend in any way the agreement between buyer and seller and they could not even do that if they wanted to – they have no legal standing on any agreement between buyer and seller – their whole standing is individually with each of the buyer and seller and the most they could do is take down a listing in response to a complaint before the auction has ended.

    I think it’s unlikely that eBay would be okay with discrimination as long as it’s spelled out in advance.

    It’s not either illegal or immoral discrimination to refuse to allow Orthodox Jews to Catholic Seminaries nor discrimination to refuse Catholics to Jewish schools it’s protected First Amendment rights to conduct one’s own religion without government interference.

    If it were electronics for sale then that would be potentially illegal discrimination and certainly eBay would be likely to remove the listing in response to any complaint. Furthermore in such a case even if it were successfully arbitrated by the seller in Beis Din the buyer would be able to get the arbitration thrown out by a judge on public policy grounds.

    However since we are talking about Torah sponsorship eBay are highly unlikely to want to get involved in an internal religious First Amendment issue and they would not look good having the ACLU on their case (yes, the ACLU will defend such free speech and free excercise issues no matter who it’s for – even Ultra-Orthodox). As far as the law any discrimination challenge would be immediately dismissed for First Amendment reasons.

    It would also be unlikely for someone who’s not a frum Yid to accept a psak from a beis din.

    Any and all Courts will compel all parties to a contract to accept properly written arbitration clauses even if that arbitration is a Beis Din and there will be no way out of it, Frum or not, Jewish or not.

    #1199524
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    If a buyer doesnt pay, the eBay fees will be waved

    If a buyer complains that the seller won’t deliver the final fees are not waived. So, if this auction completes there is a very real possibility that a genuine bidder will win and then complain that the seller would not deliver leaving the seller stuck with the final fee.

    Additionally, is this what two genuine eBay users with a long positive purchase history want to do using their genuine user names?

    #1199525
    apushatayid
    Participant

    This auction will not complete. The “seller” has mistaken Kislev for Adar.

    #1199526

    ZD, what happens if a buyer asks to be released from his commitment and the seller agrees? Do either of them suffer any consequences?

    #1199527
    Joseph
    Participant

    DY: No.

    #1199528
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    This auction will not complete. The “seller” has mistaken Kislev for Adar.

    What will you say if the auction does complete tomorrow?

    #1199529
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    ZD, what happens if a buyer asks to be released from his commitment and the seller agrees? Do either of them suffer any consequences?

    If both agree, there is no consequence, its only a problem if one doesnt consent. usually both sides will agree because its in the benefit of both to do so (but not always)

    As far as the relgious discrimination clause at the bottom

    eBay is a private company and has the right to dictate the rules when you use their platform. You cannot choose your own rules that overstep their rules.

    If their rules are anyone can bid, then you must obey those rules. if you dont like the rules, you need to pick another platform

    #1199530

    Thanks, ZD.

    I didn’t think so.

    #1199531
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    A side note, there are people selling Tfillin on eBay and I onced asked one of the sellers how he could do so , He could not gurnatee a jew would buy them and the rules are you have to sell to the buyer if they insist

    The seller said he would try to pay off buyers whom he thought should not have them (ie a buyer named Christine O’Connor)

    #1199532
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    ZD, what happens if a buyer asks to be released from his commitment and the seller agrees? Do either of them suffer any consequences?

    One question is persuading eBay to refund. eBay say clearly that they do not automatically credit final fees just because a transaction did not complete. They have a process for getting the credit and the best way to guarantee a credit is to follow that process.

    I am not sure what the full context of the question is but, as mentioned above, it’s not obvious how to guarantee that a non-co-operating bidder does not win, if that were to happen that would ruin any collusion between seller and a friendly buyer.

    #1199533

    What will you say if the auction does complete tomorrow?

    I would not know if it was legit, or if the “buyer” and seller will agree to back out, with no negative consequences for trying to get someone to outbid the “buyer”.

    #1199534
    BenBagBag
    Participant

    eBay is a private company and has the right to dictate the rules when you use their platform. You cannot choose your own rules that overstep their rules.

    If their rules are anyone can bid, then you must obey those rules. if you dont like the rules, you need to pick another platform

    Firstly, eBay’s rules cannot amend or change any direct legal contractual agreements between two parties. The most they can do is remove an auction before it ends so that it does not complete.

    Secondly, where does eBay address whether an auction for a religious observance has to be open to all parties?

    #1199535

    Firstly, eBay’s rules cannot amend or change any direct legal contractual agreements between two parties.

    That makes no sense. EBay’s rules precluded that contract from being effective.

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