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Caustic Critic
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Q. I write music reviews for a popular magazine. Sometimes I think a disk is really crummy. Can I write my honest opinion? A.This delicate question is faced not only by critics but at some time by virtually any columnist. The way to the ethical answer is to examine the job of the critic, and […]
Charity Begins at Home
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Q. My charity budget is somewhat limited. Can I give it to needy family members? A. The answer to your question seems obvious. Centuries before the English expression “Charity begins at home” was coined, the prophet Isaiah (58:7) admonished: “Shall you not break bread for the hungry, and bring broken paupers home; clothe the naked […]
Supplier Struggle
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Q. Recently a customer obtained a price quote, only to return a few days afterwards asking me to revise my quote to beat an even lower quote from a competitor. Is that ethical? How should I respond? A. This game of playing suppliers off against each other is hardly new. The most famous exponent of […]
Overtime for Lost Time
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Q. I gave my boss months of advance notice of my need to take vacation days during the fall holidays (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah), but she is still upset at the disruption and is demanding that I work overtime to make up some of the lost time. Is this a fair demand? […]
Affirmative Action
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Q. Can I take advantage of an affirmative action program even if I’m not personally disadvantaged? A. Affirmative action is one of the most controversial ethical issues of the last generation, as well as one of the most common topics of Jewish Ethicist queries. The basic idea is that since certain groups have in the […]
Comfort and Competition
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Q. My qualifications and service are significantly beyond those of my competitors. Yet in my conservative community, much of my potential clientele is stubbornly loyal to their regular establishments. How can I convince them that my competition will improve quality for everyone? A. Competition is certainly a wonderful spur to merchants to constantly improve their […]
All’s Fair in Love
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Q. Do the principles of “truth in advertising” apply in dating as well? A. In an earlier column we pointed out that in many ways the “marriage market” is similar to other markets. To some extent everyone is trying to “sell” him or herself; eligible men and women are permitted and even encouraged to put […]
Over the Rainbow
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Judaism cultivates an appreciation of the beauty of nature, and teaches us to make special blessings when we encounter impressive natural wonders such as the sea, spectacular mountain heights, and so on. It is hardly surprising that we also have a blessing on the rainbow, which is one of the most impressive sights in nature. […]
Exclusive Schools
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Q. Some schools in my area try to maintain a student body drawn from the “best” families. Is this an ethical practice? A. In the article about affirmative action — we discussed the practice of intentionally giving preference to applicants from a disadvantaged background, even if their measured skills seem deficient. One response asked about […]
Paying Workers on Time
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Q. I did a job for someone months ago, but they keep on pushing off writing me a check. What can I do? A. The most common reader question to the Jewish Ethicist is how to deal with people who just don’t pay debts, particularly debts to outside workers (consultants, professionals, etc.) Even so, I […]