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Debtor’s Prison
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Q. In my country people can be put in jail for failing to pay debts. Is this sanctioned by Jewish tradition? A. Jewish law on this delicate topic has gone through a number of changes, yet certain underlying principles have guided it throughout. According to Torah law, if a creditor knows that a debtor is […]
Arms and the Businessmen
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Q. Is it proper to work in the arms industry? A. “The arms industry” is too general a term. In order to establish consistent ethical criteria, we will have to make some important distinctions. The Talmud teaches: “It is forbidden to sell to strangers weapons, or to sharpen their weapons, or to sell them anvils […]
Asceticism
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Q. Many extremely righteous individuals lived simple, even deprived, lifestyles. Should we follow their example? A. We wrote in a previous column that Judaism doesn’t encourage asceticism. Yet we wrote in the same column about Rabbi Eliezer ben Charsom, who is praised in our tradition for the life of deprivation that he chose. And we […]
Blind Stealing
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Q. A store in our area is completely run by a hired assistant who habitually steals from the till. I’ve hinted to the storeowner that closer supervision would be prudent, but he has complete trust in the assistant. Do I need to pursue the matter farther? A. Let us review our general approach to informing […]
Resume Redux
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Q. Right now I can’t find an employer who needs an MBA, so for the jobs I’m seeking I’m overqualified. Can I omit my MBA from my resume? A. The short answer to your question is that your MBA is no different from any other aspect of your background you might want to hide. A […]
Finders Keepers
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Q. When do I have to return a lost object? When can I keep it for myself? A. In two places the Torah commands us to return lost objects. In the book of Exodus (23:4), we find, “If you encounter your enemy’s ox, or his donkey straying, surely return it to him.” And in Deuteronomy […]
Undercharge Undercurrent
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Q. At a recent trip to the supermarket the checker accidentally failed to me charge for some items. I want to return the money, but I’m afraid that if I bring back the receipt the boss will take unwarranted punitive action against the checker. A. Your concern is well placed. We have often cited here […]
Rebate Racket
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Q. Our store has advertised a rebate on purchases. But my boss has instructed me to inflate the usual price so that the after-rebate amount is the same as before! What should I do? A. The policy you describe is definitely unethical. When a company advertises a sale, a markdown, or a rebate, the customer […]
White Lie Redux
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Q. Sometimes I’m just too busy to talk even to an important customer. Can I avoid offending them by asking my secretary say that I’m out of the office or in a meeting? A. Truth is a supreme value in Jewish tradition, and the Talmud states that “The seal of the Holy One, blessed be […]
Blame Game
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Q. In our workplace, shifting blame is commonplace. How can I defend myself without being unfair to others? A. While to err is human, no one wants to get left holding the bag — especially if it may damage chances for a raise or a promotion. In many workplaces, the result is that much productive […]