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Malicious Merchants
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Q. A merchant in our area is known for his support of unsavory causes. Is it proper to prefer other establishments? A: The main reason for choosing a particular merchant is generally the quality and price of his merchandise, and it is certainly valid for you to make these considerations uppermost. But market relationships are […]
Fresh or Free
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Q. A store in our neighborhood advertises: “It’s fresh or it’s free” — if a customer finds food that is not fresh, the store will give it to him. Is it ethical to make a special search for these items? A. Let’s examine the essence of this generous and unusual store policy. It is certainly […]
A Room With A View
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Q. Is a landlord required to make sure that a rented apartment is livable? A. Nowadays, the law generally holds the landlord to an “implied warranty of habitability.” In other words, by the very fact of offering a property for rent he is assuring the tenant that the apartment meets generally accepted standards for dwelling. […]
Revolving Door
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Q. When leading public servants such as regulators leave their jobs, they often go to work for the same companies they used to supervise. Is this ethical? A. There’s no question that there is a severe problem when public servants face a conflict of interest. Yet before we analyze this problem, we should acknowledge that […]
Spam Jam
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Q. My firm provides a unique product that could be of interest to many individuals. Someone has offered to make a pitch through a “spam” mailing to millions of individuals. Can we take advantage of this offer? A. In principle, Jewish tradition does not frown on promotion. It is legitimate for a seller to try […]
Confidential Ex-Con Part I
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Q. If I know that a job applicant has a criminal record, should I inform the proprietor? A. The case of a former criminal can be related to on two levels. At one level, he is the same as any individual: He deserves protection from slander, but at the same time others deserve protection from […]
Confidential Ex-Con Part II
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Q. If I know that a job applicant has a criminal record, should I inform the proprietor? A. The case of a former criminal can be related to on two levels. At one level, he is the same as any individual: He deserves protection from slander, but at the same time others deserve protection from […]
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 […]