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Friendly Loans
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Q. I gave an informal loan to a very trustworthy individual. Now he is making all kinds of excuses to avoid paying me back. I’m stuck in a cycle of frustration, resentment, and financial strain. What went wrong? A. It’s a bit unconventional to engage in Talmudic dialectics comparing the Torah to Shakespeare, yet there […]
Age Discrimination
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Q. Is it permissible to discriminate against workers based on their age? A. In answering this question, we should distinguish between discrimination in hiring new workers and in letting go of old ones. Discriminating against hiring older workers is not something prominently discussed in Jewish sources; there is no particular prohibition on giving preference to […]
Birthright Bias
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Q. If one child is not a credit to the family, is it proper to write him out of the will, or to leave him with a token inheritance? A. In general, Jewish law strongly discourages disinheriting a wayward child. The great Talmudic sage Shmuel advised, “Don’t be among those who transfer their bequests, even […]
Revealing Reference
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Q. A colleague gave a number of associates permission to provide an objective reference, and as a result we felt justified in giving the prospective employer a complete and partially unfavorable assessment of his abilities. We were mortified to find out that this employer told the applicant that he was refused for the job because […]
Frought Freebie
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Q. When our tour stayed in a hotel, we decided it would be thoughtful if we took some of the soaps and donated them to a homeless shelter. Is this ethical? A. The first question is whether it is proper to take the soaps or shampoos that hotels provide for guests, or whether you should […]
Just Fine or Unjust Fine
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Q. I have a neighbor who is constantly nudging me to lend him my trimmer. Knowing how irresponsible he is, I tried to avoid lending it. But I finally told him he could borrow it on condition that if he broke it he would have to pay a fine that is really much more than […]
Sticky Status Seeker
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Q. Is it ethical to make a show of being “high class,” for example by wearing clothes that look like they come from a famous designer? A. Trying to impress others with our wealth and taste is a common practice and raises a number of ethical questions. Let’s examine a few. One important ethical issue […]
Bad Business
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Q. I work in a routine job in a business that I consider immoral. Do I have to give up my job because I am aiding immorality? A. This very important question was submitted by a number of readers who work in industries such as casino gambling, cigarettes, armaments, and so on. It is beyond […]
Stealing Customers
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Q. In our small community there is an established business that has served residents for years. Recently, a competing business opened and is turning to customers to persuade them to use their services instead. Is this ethical? A. Jewish law has an extensive tradition regarding fair competition for customers. Let’s examine some of the main […]
Reference Redux
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Q. In a recent column you wrote that an interviewer should not reveal to an applicant that he or she had poor references. Doesn’t this make the applicant vulnerable to victimization by previous employers? The applicant doesn’t know what malicious statements are made and is unable to defend himself! A. The column on revealing references […]