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Showing Racism the Door
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Q. Should I fire an employee who continually makes offensive racist comments? A. Without question, there’s no place in the enlightened workplace for racism or other offensive behavior. Indeed, in many countries the employer has a legal responsibility to make sure that the workplace is free of these baneful phenomena, so that all workers are […]
Cake Calumny
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Q. I deliver fresh baked goods to a number of workplaces. One influential manager has been slandering my wares, claiming that someone got sick from my cakes. How can I protect myself? A. Fighting unsubstantiated rumors is the nightmare of any business. In many previous columns we have discussed the very strict approach of Jewish […]
Dependent Donee
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Q. I feel that some charity seekers are in a cycle of dependence; they would be really better off if no one helped them. Is this a valid judgment? A. The ancient rabbis did express concern for possible negative impact of charity giving, but they gave this concern a very low profile. They were always […]
School Sell-Out
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Q. My school has many foreign students. As a service to them, in the information packet I include advertisements from firms providing useful services for travelers. This year one provider offered our school a large sum if we would include his ad and exclude that of his competitor. Can I accept the offer? A. This […]
Facing Poker
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Q. Our synagogue is thinking of raising funds through a poker tournament. Is this proper? Can the rabbi take part? A. In a previous column, we explained the basic ethical approach to gambling. According to the Talmud, the two main ethical problems with gambling are: Habitual gambling fosters a careless, “easy-come, easy-go” approach to money […]
Getting Recongnition
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Q. One of my co-workers is very vocal about all the contributions she makes to the office and how indispensable she is. I feel that she steps on me to get more recognition. How can I get my contribution acknowledged? A. Working quietly and not flaunting your achievements is certainly praiseworthy conduct. Such a demeanor […]
Neighborly Loan
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Q. I lent some money to a neighbor, but he doesn’t seem to be finding it easy to repay me. Now I find that this awkward situation is disturbing our neighborly relations. What do I do? A. Your situation is a familiar one, and it is for this reason that Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet advised “Neither […]
Equality Quandry
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Q. Statistics show a growing gap between incomes of rich and poor. Is this an ethical problem? A. Economists like to measure economic performance in terms of two variables: efficiency and equity. Efficiency refers to how much wealth the economy produces; equity to how fairly this wealth is distributed. These concerns are in conformity with […]
Bankruptcy
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Q. Most advanced countries allow indebted people to erase their debts through personal bankruptcy. Is this ethical? A. It’s impossible to relate to personal bankruptcy in a vacuum. We need to examine this law in the context of the overall relationship between borrowers and lenders. The general principle is that an appropriate balance is needed […]
Reconciling the Books
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Q. We’ve loaned a lot of money to a family which fell on hard times. We hoped the credit would help them get on their feet financially, but now it seems unlikely that they will be able to repay. Can we consider the loan amount a charitable contribution? A. Many readers probably need some background […]