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Ethics and Sportsmanship
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Q. If I know my opponent deserved a point and lost it due to the referee’s error, should I rectify the injustice by throwing the next point? A. In order to answer this question, we have to examine the role of sports in our culture, and of sportsmanship in sports. In sports, more than in […]
Universal Torah Ethics
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Q. The store accidentally gave me merchandise I didn’t pay for. Do I have to return it? Does it matter if the storeowner is Jewish? A. I have been writing the Jewish ethicist column for over five years. From the very first column my approach has been that my answers to readers’ questions embody universal […]
Pets in Judaism
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Q. A friend passed away, and we can’t find anyone interested in adopting his dog. Would it be an act of compassion for me to take the animal in with me? I wasn’t really looking for a dog, but I do like them and could provide a good home. A. When we want to find […]
Second to Last Will and Testament
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Q. Am I obligated to fulfill a parent’s last wishes? A. Last week’s column discussed the ethical considerations of taking in a dog of a departed friend. There we discussed one dimension of the problem — the ethical status of pets. But a number of readers wanted information about an additional dimension — Judaism’s approach […]
True to Your Word
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Q. Where in the Torah does it say you have to keep your word? A. I field a lot of ethical questions. Sometimes I tell people they have an ethical obligation to say something because it’s true, or to do something because they promised to. Usually people are satisfied with this answer. It makes intuitive […]
Hows My Talking
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Q. Should I call the “How’s my driving?” number if the driver is careless? A. By now it’s a familiar site all over the developed world: the vehicle in front of you bears a prominent sticker asking, “How’s my driving?” and showing a toll-free number to report. Why is the sticker there? The fleet operator […]
Ethics of Life and Death
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Q. Why does Jewish law forbid cremation? A. In a recent column on fulfilling the wishes of departed friends and relatives, I mentioned that the family should respect burial instructions. The source I cited referred to a parent who asked to be buried in a different town; Jewish law states that this request should be […]
Bundle of Life
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Q. You wrote that judgment after death helps induce people to act ethically. Isn’t that a selfish reason to act properly? A. I received many responses to last week’s column on the ethical significance of life after death in Jewish belief. The most common question was the one above, but there were many other questions […]
The Whole Truth
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Q. The policy at our store is to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, but not necessarily the whole truth. We tell customers when an article isn’t suitable for their needs, and avoid encouraging them to spend beyond their means. But we never tell them that they could get something more suitable, or […]
Warm World
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Q. Does Jewish tradition have any special lessons about global warming? A. Let’s begin by explaining what global warming is. Reliable thermometers have been around for generations, and scientists are convinced that the earth is significantly warmer than it was a century ago. Many researchers believe that the main cause of this warming is carbon […]