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Speed Trap
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Q. Is it ethical to use devices that warn drivers of speed traps? A. Many devices are sold which can detect the presence of speed detectors used by police, though they are becoming less effective as technological means used by law enforcers are becoming much more sophisticated. These devices are very popular and are completely […]
Refugee Redux
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Q. You write that communities should initiate programs to provide care for immigrants. Does this apply even to illegal immigrants who are technically criminals? A. We recently discussed the problem of providing humane medical care to indigent foreigners without imposing an unfair burden on the local community. This is a burning issue in many American […]
No News is Good News
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Q. A relative of mine has just gone to visit his son. I am very attached to the son and have just learned that he has been jailed. Should I inform the father or let him find out himself? A. While modern sensibilities and Jewish tradition are closely aligned on many issues, they are very […]
Reacting to Suffering
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Q. How can religious faith understand natural disasters like the great wave that just struck East Asia? A. It would be quite presumptuous to think that we could resolve the paradox of suffering in the world overseen by a benevolent God in a few hundred words. But the magnitude of the human tragedy certainly compels […]
Parental Prerogative
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Q. You write that outsiders shouldn’t upstage parents. Can I help my niece through college if the parents prefer she go to work? A. In a recent column we discussed a concerned relative who knew of bad news about a young man. The situation was where the father was already on his way to visit […]
How Poor is Poor
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Q. I’m an older person, too sick to work, living on a fixed income that is not really enough for my needs. Can I collect charity? A. The question of who is considered poor is a fundamental one in Jewish law, because many commandments of the Torah apply specifically to the poor and needy. For […]
Vote Confidential
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Q. I sit on our club’s membership committee, which meets and votes in secret on new candidates. Can I reassure a friend that I supported his rejected application? A. An almost identical situation is discussed in the Mishnah: Whence do we learn that when one of the judges goes out he should not say [to […]
Pleading Innocent
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Q. I’m guilty of a minor crime, but I’m pretty sure they won’t be able to convict me. Can I plead innocent? A. We should first clarify that there is a basic ethical responsibility to be law abiding. Especially in a democracy, almost all laws reflect a reasonable and legitimate public consensus for acceptable behavior. […]
Servile Salary
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Q. I find my work very rewarding, but my employer is taking advantage of my dedication by making extensive demands and giving minimal pay. Can I compel the employer to pay me a fair wage? A. We can gain important insight into your question from the Torah’s regulations regarding an eved ivri — a kind […]
Money and Marriage II
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Q. I’m a working woman with a good income, but it is important to me to find a husband with good earning power who will be able to provide financial security. Is this a valid consideration? I don’t want to be seen as a “gold-digger.” A. The topic of marriage and money is an ancient […]