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Reuben Hood
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Q. Is it ethical to steal from the rich to give to the poor? A. Many of us grew up with the romantic figure of Robin Hood, played by dashing actors from Douglas Fairbanks through Errol Flynn and right up to Russell Crowe. The audience cheers on Robin and his band as they succeed in […]
Work or Shirk?
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Q. In a recent column you made a distinction between unequal effort and unequal contribution in a partnership. What is the meaning of this distinction? A. Recently we discussed a situation in which two partners agreed on a division of labor, based on the partners’ respective talents, and on a division of profit, which was […]
Jewish Wisdom vs. Secular Knowledge
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Q. What does Judaism say about our culture’s tendency to make heroes out public intellectuals? A. Last week we discussed the popular tendency to idolize performers. Based on a discussion in the Talmud, we concluded that there is a fine line between idolization and idolatry. The sages of the Talmud had a very suspicious attitude […]
My Idol!
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Q. What does Judaism say about our culture’s tendency to make heroes out of leaders in sport and popular culture? A. There can be no question that sports stars, actors and musicians are cultural icons and leading role models in modern secular culture. Some of these individuals take serious the responsibility that comes with their […]
Supporting Dad
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Q. My father has a very low income, so I send him money each month even though it is a hardship for me. But he lives in a very valuable house – is he really poor? Also, he has announced his decision to leave his entire estate to his wife (not my mother), so in […]
Tainted Money
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Q. You recently wrote that buying stolen merchandise is forbidden because it enables crime. Does the same apply to accepting bank deposits from criminal activities? A. In a recent column, we pointed out that Jewish law forbids buying stolen merchandise. We quoted Maimonides who wrote: “For if he can’t find anyone to buy, he won’t […]
Job Loyalty: How Far?
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Q. Our club has a paid secretary who has done an excellent job managing the club over a period of decades. However, we find that with age she is less able to fulfill her duties and would like to replace her. But we are worried that losing the job will affect her emotionally and financially. […]
Pharaoh’s Tax
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Q. What are the principles of fair taxation in Jewish tradition? A. Last week we discussed a few principles of fair taxation in Jewish law. One was that taxes should ideally be proportional to the benefit received. This week we will discuss two other principles, which can be inferred from what is recounted in the […]
Fair Tax
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Q. What are the Jewish principles of fair taxation? A. In principle, Jewish law gives communities very wide latitude to decide on taxation systems. Jewish communities throughout the ages had a wide variety of taxation systems in terms of tax base (income, wealth, real estate, head tax), tax grades (progressive, proportional or regressive) and other […]
Provocative Ads
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Q. Are provocative advertisements ethical? A. Advertising is probably as old as commerce, but today it has reached unprecedented scale; hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on advertising. Ads are a form of persuasion, but relatively few ads involve persuasion in the usual sense: presenting information that will bring a person to […]