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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 […]
Office Gossip
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Q. My workplace is rife with gossip. Anytime someone comes to talk to me, chances are they’re passing along the latest juicy story. What can I do to protect myself and improve the situation? A. You’re certainly wise to seek a way out of the situation. Jewish law states that not only is telling gossip […]
Speculation
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Q. Some people make a lot of money on speculation. Is it really ethical to make money without producing anything, just by guessing which way prices are going to move? A. Fundamentally, speculating is an economically productive activity. But there is no question that it does present some ethical challenges. The economic importance of speculation […]
Selling Term Papers
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Q. I’m a good student. Sometimes I make a little extra money by selling my term papers to a website which maintains a kind of archive of papers on various topics. Of course I would never use one of these services, but is it unethical to contribute to them as well? A. It’s a good […]
Growing Apart
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Q. I’m an older person with a longtime friend whom I just no longer enjoy visiting. I just feel we no longer have anything in common. I’m constantly making excuses to her why I can’t visit, like saying I’m too busy, and then feeling terribly guilty. Wouldn’t it be better to just honestly tell her […]
Disciplining Workers
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Q. I just discovered that an employee recorded transactions in a careless way that is against our company’s explicit rules. When I demanded that he go back and do the work properly on his own time, he asserted that I have no right to ask him to work without pay. A. It’s easy to understand […]
Strikes in Vital Services
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Q. Our area recently had a strike of firefighters. Is this ethical? A. Before we turn to the specific area of vital services, we should mention that the overall approach of Jewish tradition to trade unions is generally favorable. Our law acknowledges the right of members of a particular trade to organize together into a […]