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The Ethics of Torture
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Q. What does Judaism say about torturing suspects in order to obtain life-saving information? A. This highly topical question is the subject of a recent article by Rabbi J. David Bleich in the latest issue of Tradition magazine, devoted to the topic of “War and the Jewish Tradition”. This column is basically a summary and […]
A Free Ride
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Q. My friends are renting a hotel room for vacation and they offered to let me sleep on the floor. I can’t afford a vacation otherwise. Can I take them up on their offer? A. Hotel managers have many good reasons for charging by the guest and not allowing additional guests to stay over. We […]
Teenager in Our Midst
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Q. I’m on the administrative committee of an age-restricted (over-55) community. One neighbor is living with his teenage grandson, in violation of our community by-laws. Can I report his violation to the committee, which will then weigh sanctions? A. Let’s study first the background of this question. While originally there was little regulation of resident […]
Homework Help
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Q. I discovered I have a gift for helping others with math problems. Can I offer my service to online help sites? A. Nobody knows exactly when the first homework was assigned, but it’s a fair bet that whenever it was, the first attempt to get help was only a few hours later. Classmates, parents […]
Pollution
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Q. Does Jewish law forbid pollution? Does the polluter have to pay damages, like anyone else who causes harm? A. Among the very first commandments given in the Torah are those providing for payments for damages. In chapter 20 of the book of Exodus we have the revelation on Mount Sinai and the Ten Commandments, […]
Global Threats
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Q. You recently wrote that pollution is not an inherent case of “damage” but a kind of nuisance which the community must weigh against cost of control. What about global dangers like global warming, where no meaningful community control exists? A. I received many thoughtful replies to the pollution column, which was intentionally meant to […]
No More Flood
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Q. Last week you explained that solving our environmental problems requires international cooperation. What can Jewish tradition teach us about nearing this ideal? A. In recent weeks we have explained that Jewish law definitely mandates regulation of pollution and other nuisances, but that most kinds of pollution, even the most threatening kinds, are not direct […]
Apprentice
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Q. Many successful firms hire summer interns. These dedicated volunteers are generally of significant value to the firms, yet are paid nothing. Is this fair to the youngsters? A. There is certainly something paradoxical about internships. The law forbids hiring workers for below minimum wage, but allows employers to hire them for nothing! This may […]
Should Father Pay
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Q. My son wants his brothers and sisters to be at his upcoming wedding, but not all of them can afford the trip. He wants me to pay half the plane fare. I have helped him in the past to the best of my ability, but the truth is that my means are very short […]
Under the Table
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Q. My friend’s employer pays her “under the table,” without paying employer taxes. I would like to protest their behavior, but I’m afraid it will cost my friend her job. A. There is definitely a place for protesting improper behavior, but we also need to examine the boundaries of this ethical imperative. Certainly it is […]