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Right to Revenge
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Q. I’ve been taught that revenge is wrong. But isn’t a little revenge sometimes permissible when we need it to protect our rights? A. You should thank your teachers. The Torah strictly warns us against taking revenge: “Don’t take vengeance and don’t bear a grudge against the members of your nation; love your neighbor as […]
Paying for Bad Service
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Q. I recently went to a restaurant and got terrible service. The waitress never brought the french fries which were supposed to be included in my meal, and the coffee was absolutely undrinkable. When I got home, I noticed that I was undercharged. Given the disgraceful service, can I just call it a wash? Can […]
Freebie Frustration
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Q. Charity organizations often send gifts as an inducement to donors. Is this practice ethical? If I keep the present, do I have to give a donation? A. Jewish tradition acknowledges and esteems the power of gifts and the need to use them responsibly. There is no question that giving a gift does, and should, […]
Dating for Dollars
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Q. I have many friends who are using dating services or marriage brokers to help find partners. Sometimes the cost is in the thousands of dollars. Is this practice ethical? A. Helping someone find his or her life’s partner is one of the greatest acts of loving kindness we can perform. In fact, our tradition […]
Some Favor
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Q. I got separated from my group on a tour, but succeeded in finding a resourceful cab driver who got me back promptly. In the meantime, two group members spent a large amount on cab drivers trying to find me. Do I have to pay them back? A. You face a common situation: a well-meaning […]
Name Game
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Q. Is it really proper to name buildings after donors? A. This is an ancient question to which Jewish tradition gives an emphatic answer: It is proper and even desirable to acknowledge the generosity of donors by perpetuating their names. Rabbi Shlomo Adret, a medieval rabbi who was one of the greatest Jewish legal authorities […]
Open Eavesdropping
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Q. My company does sales demos for foreign companies. Very often the representatives make private comments among themselves, assuming we don’t understand. In fact, very often our salespeople do understand the customer’s language. Is it permissible for us to “eavesdrop” on these conversations which are held openly in our presence? A. Using a “private” language […]
Pyramid Puzzle Part I
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Q. A neighbor tried to sell me some cosmetics and suggested that I could also make money by selling to others. Is this selling system ethical? A. The phenomenon you describe is called “multi-level marketing.” The idea is to create a kind of pyramid where each customer in turn becomes a salesperson, creating a new […]
Pyramid Puzzle Part II
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Q. A neighbor tried to sell me some cosmetics, and suggested that I could also make money by selling to others. Is this selling system ethical? A. The phenomenon you describe is called “multi-level marketing.” The idea is to create a kind of pyramid where each customer in turn becomes a salesperson, creating a new […]
Grease or Graft
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Q. I support a charitable organization in a somewhat backward developing country. A local official warned me that any donations are likely to be “skimmed” by the administrators. I’m thinking of offering this official a small payment to help keep an eye on the crooked administration, but I wonder if this kind of bribe is […]