Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir is one of the Jewish world's best-known lecturers and educators in the area of business ethics. Rabbi Dr. Meir is known by a wide audience from his "Ethics@Work" column in the Jerusalem Post, through the popular syndicated column "The Jewish Ethicist," and through his lectures and books. His extensive background includes a Harvard education and obtaining a Ph.D. in economics from MIT. He has worked on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan Administration. His rabbinic ordination is from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. Rabbi Dr Meir's works combine a professional grasp of the detailed workings of the 21st century economy with a highly-developed sensitivity to the eternal ethical messages of Jewish law and tradition. For a number of years he served as a Senior Lecturer in economics and business ethics at the Jerusalem College of Technology. Rabbi Meir's first book, "The Jewish Ethicist," was released in February 2005 and rapidly obtained remarkable reviewer approval. The American Library Association's Booklist applauded it as "an important source of ethical insights for Jews and non-Jews alike," while the Jewish Press noted that the author "combines up-to-the-minute knowledge of his field with thousands of years of Jewish tradition." Rabbi Meir's second book, "Meaning in Mitzvot," distributed by Feldheim, provides insights into the deeper spiritual and ethical meanings of the daily practices of Jewish law, has been warmly received by readers. Dr. Meir is a regular member of the Ethics Committee of the Prime Minister's office and of the Israel Economic Association. He has spoken as an invited expert before the Knesset Law Committee. He is a frequent speaker at professional gatherings on business and economic ethics, as well as a lecturer for popular audiences.
Our parsha contains the Torah mitzva of birkhat hamazon, the grace after meals.This is the only blessing on food which is mandated by the Torah, but serves as one source for the Rabbinical commandment to make a berakha before any food (Berakhot 48b). When faced with a variety of foods, we give precedence to certain
The Shulchan Arukh rules that on the birth of a baby boy, the parents bless “Hatov vehametiv”, thanking HaShem who is good and does good (SA OC 223:1). This is the blessing said on a blessed event which is common to several individuals (SA OC 222:1). The Mishna Berura explains that the boy is a
Someone who has been safely delivered from a dangerous situation makes a special blessing in public, thanking G-d “Who bestows good on the culpable, Who has bestowed all goodness on me”. The mishna and thus the Shulchan Arukh give four examples: (1) one who returns safely from a perilous trip by sea; (2) or through
The Mishna tells us “Eighteen years of age for the CHUPA” (Avot 5:21). But this is not like “Thirteen years of age for mitzvot”, whereby a Bar Mitzva is automatically celebrated for any 13-year old boy. A person doesn’t routinely get married right after his 18th birthday, rather this is singled out as an age
Last week we discussed the first chapter in Even Haezer, the section of the Tur and Shulchan Arukh dealing with the laws of marriage. That chapter dealt with the obligation to marry and have children. This week we discuss the second chapter, which discusses the ideal spouse whom we should marry. Seemingly, the main consideration
In our parsha, Pinchas receives a special eternal blessing for his zeal in preventing intermarriage between the Jewish men and the Midianite women. Intermarriage is considered one of the most severe breaches in Jewish tradition, and the desire to prevent it is the main reason for the prohibition on many kinds of foods prepared by
In many places, the Torah commands us to show special consideration towards widows. For example:  In a number of places the Torah admonishes us to include them among the needy whom we are obliged to help with charity, tithes etc. Devarim 14:29, 16:11, 16:14, 24:19-21; 26:12-13.  There is a special prohibition against causing
Last week we discussed the immense importance of paying workers on time; there are three distinct Torah commandments which are solely devoted to this requirement. The Torah explains, “Give him payment the same day, don’t let the sun set on it; for he is poor, and he bears his soul for it” (Devarim 24:15). While
The Torah warns us in several places to pay workers right away. In fact, the Shulchan Arukh states that there are five negative and one positive commandment which one may transgress by delaying wages (CM 339:2). While it is understandable that it is praiseworthy to pay on time, it is interesting that the Torah so
A person who makes a vow, or neder, in effect creates a new Torah prohibition for himself. The food or other item which was previously permissible is now forbidden; breaking the vow by obtaining benefit from the forbidden item makes a person carries the penalty of lashes, just as breaking an existing Torah prohibition does.