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Dating for Dollars
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Q. I have many friends who are using dating services or marriage brokers to help find partners. Sometimes the cost is in the thousands of dollars. Is this practice ethical? A. Helping someone find his or her life’s partner is one of the greatest acts of loving kindness we can perform. In fact, our tradition […]
Some Favor
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Q. I got separated from my group on a tour, but succeeded in finding a resourceful cab driver who got me back promptly. In the meantime, two group members spent a large amount on cab drivers trying to find me. Do I have to pay them back? A. You face a common situation: a well-meaning […]
Name Game
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Q. Is it really proper to name buildings after donors? A. This is an ancient question to which Jewish tradition gives an emphatic answer: It is proper and even desirable to acknowledge the generosity of donors by perpetuating their names. Rabbi Shlomo Adret, a medieval rabbi who was one of the greatest Jewish legal authorities […]
Open Eavesdropping
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Q. My company does sales demos for foreign companies. Very often the representatives make private comments among themselves, assuming we don’t understand. In fact, very often our salespeople do understand the customer’s language. Is it permissible for us to “eavesdrop” on these conversations which are held openly in our presence? A. Using a “private” language […]
Pyramid Puzzle Part I
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Q. A neighbor tried to sell me some cosmetics and suggested that I could also make money by selling to others. Is this selling system ethical? A. The phenomenon you describe is called “multi-level marketing.” The idea is to create a kind of pyramid where each customer in turn becomes a salesperson, creating a new […]
Pyramid Puzzle Part II
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Q. A neighbor tried to sell me some cosmetics, and suggested that I could also make money by selling to others. Is this selling system ethical? A. The phenomenon you describe is called “multi-level marketing.” The idea is to create a kind of pyramid where each customer in turn becomes a salesperson, creating a new […]
Grease or Graft
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Q. I support a charitable organization in a somewhat backward developing country. A local official warned me that any donations are likely to be “skimmed” by the administrators. I’m thinking of offering this official a small payment to help keep an eye on the crooked administration, but I wonder if this kind of bribe is […]
Legitimate Larceny
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Q. A store in my neighborhood is always ripping me off: overcharging, giving poor merchandise, and so on. Sometimes I feel that the only way of settling accounts is for me to play this same game — for instance by pocketing a few almonds, or taking a bunch of extra shopping bags. Is this a […]
Stealing Customers
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Q. I recently opened up my own business after deciding that I could give better service to customers than my former employer provides. Of course I would like to find out who might be interested in my services. Can I ask someone at my old place of employment to obtain a customer list? A. It’s […]
Rent Control
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Q. Is it ethical for landlords to charge all the market will bear? When they do, many people are priced out of their homes. A. The tension between landlord and tenant is hardly new. The Torah speaks about charging a fair price for land that will return in the Jubilee year, which is like a […]