The Jewish Ethicist – Renege

The Jewish Ethicist – Renege

from by: by Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem

Q. I agreed to use a certain service provider and even signed an agreement, but the agreement is not valid until I obtain some authorizations from the authorities, so I am technically able to withdraw. In the meantime I came across a better deal. Can I renege on the original agreement?

A. Jewish law, based on commandment and personal commitment, includes many obligations that are not enforceable. This is true even in business regulation. So even when an agreement is not enforceable, there may be an obligation to uphold it.

The extent of this obligation is discussed in the following Talmudic passage:

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The Impact of Jewish Values on Marketing and Business Practices

The Impact of Jewish Values on Marketing and Business Practices

from by Hershey H. Friedman

Judaism, which relies on the Torah for its written law, has had a great impact on marketing and business. The Torah is replete with precepts dealing with business, and the Talmud, the source of Jewish oral law, elaborates and expands Torah law. The process is ongoing and rabbinical authorities today build on the decisions of their predecessors to apply Jewish law to modern problems. Some of the issues examined in this paper include: honesty in the marketplace, fair pricing, employer-employee relations, and environmental issues. Jewish law is not only concerned with practical legal advice but in encouraging individuals to go beyond the requirements of the law and practice the “way of the pious.” Judaism does not have a negative attitude towards business and wealth — indeed, most of the Talmudic sages had occupations and some were quite wealthy — but riches must be acquired honestly and used to help the poor, the needy, and the stranger.

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Jewish Medical Ethics: The Role of a Physician in Jewish Law

Jewish Medical Ethics: The Role of a Physician in Jewish Law

from by Daniel Eisenberg, M.D.

The Torah states: “I am the L-rd that heals you!” (Exodus 15:26) This verse implies that G-d does not need man to cure the afflictions that He creates. If so, by what virtue does man attempt to “short circuit” His will and attempt his own meager cures? Does man have any right to heal at all, and if he does, are there any limitations on how it may be accomplished. Is every action done in the name of therapy justified, solely because a physician performs it? Because Judaism recognizes the enormity of these questions, it requires direct permission from G-d to permit the practice of medicine and carefully circumscribes the limits of medical practice. Fortunately, the duty to save one’s fellow man is well grounded in the Torah and the restrictions are discussed at length in our codes of Jewish law.

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Business Ethics and Jewish Law

Business Ethics and Jewish Law

from by: Rabbi David Golinkin

Abbreviated from Insight Israel 3:1 (October 2002), published by The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studiesin Jerusalem. Some bibliographic references that have been eliminated here, and a bibliography on Jewish business ethics, can be found in the original version of this article, available on-line. The opinions expressed here are the author’s own and in no way reflect an official policy of the Schechter Institute.


We are admonished in the Book of Leviticus (19:35-36): “You shall not falsify measures of length, weight, or capacity. You shall have an honest balance, an honest weight, an honest ephah [dry measure], and an honest hin [liquid measure]“.

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Holy Money

Holy Money
from by Rabbi Yitzchok Braitowitz

Many have a mistaken idea of what is within the scope of Jewish tradition. People know that lighting Chanukah candles, observance of Shabbat, laws of Kashrut, etc., are the purview of rabbis. But many have an attitude that “If I don’t tell the rabbi how to run his business, the rabbi shouldn’t tell me how to run mine.” Very often, we live fragmented, dichotomized lives where what we do in the office from 9-to-5 (or if you’re a workaholic, from 8-to-7) is our own private affair, and then at home we observe the holidays and rituals of Judaism.

The Talmud discusses the questions people are asked by God after their deaths. The very first question we are held accountable for — even before issues of religious practice — is “Nasata V’netata Be’emunah,” which means “did you conduct your business affairs ethically?”

Ritual behavior and social behavior are all part of the same religious structure.

Throughout the Torah, there is constant juxtaposition between ritual commands and the ethical obligations of one human being to another. One verse may say, “Don’t worship idols,” followed by, “Do not cheat, do not misrepresent, do not engage in fraud” (Leviticus 19). Dichotomy between ritual behavior and social behavior is foreign to Judaism, because they are all part of the same God-given morality, the same religious structure.

Business ethics is the arena where the ethereal transcendent teachings of holiness and spirituality most directly confront the often grubby business of making money, of being engaged in the rat race that often comprises the marketplace. It is the acid test of whether religion is truly relevant, or religion is simply relegated to an isolated sphere of human activity. It is business ethics, one could posit, above all, that shows how God co-exists in the world, rather than God and godliness being separate and apart.

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Radically Jewish Business Ethics

Radically Jewish Business Ethics
from By David Weitzner

In the wake of the latest business scandals in the news, let’s go ahead and ask the real question that sits in the back of the head of every businessman with a conscience: Is business inherently at odds with ethics?

Let’s probe deeper than that: What is the precise relationship between the world of business and the seemingly disparate world of morality and ethics? Does this relationship begin and end with a set of rules specifying the behaviors that are to be avoided while engaging in an inherently unholy, albeit necessary, task? Or, as a radical alternative, can business activity be celebrated as something with significant spiritual potential?

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The 6-Step Method for Managing Any Ethical Dilemma

Originally Published on Entrepreneur 3/31/2016 Dilemma submitted by Matt Sweetwood   Throughout our business and personal lives we are faced with dilemmas that place us between a “rock and a hard place;” dilemmas that are always win-lose. They force us to choose between saving one person’s job while costing another’s; causing one person to lose money while another gains; and hurting one friend while helping the other. … Continue reading The 6-Step Method for Managing Any Ethical Dilemma

What Exactly is a Seller Obligated to Tell a Buyer?

Ethical Business Dilemma submitted by: Anonymous Answered by: Rabbi Kurt Stein   A friend of mine, Reuven was the CEO of a very successful private company. They were being pursued by Shimon, a CEO of a public company, who wanted to buy Reuven’s company. Reuven knew much more about his own company than Shimon knew. Shimon, of course, sent in a small army’s worth of attorneys and accountants to perform due … Continue reading What Exactly is a Seller Obligated to Tell a Buyer?

What Do You Do When An Employee Steals? (Part 2)

Ethical dilemma submitted by: David Unger Answered by Rabbi Yosef Rosen   David Unger Asks: The worst situation of employee theft was one in which a “departing” salesperson took the company’s database of advertising clients which they planned to use to compete with our business. Of course they really don’t teach you this at Wharton. What do you do?   Rabbi Rosen Answers: In business school, … Continue reading What Do You Do When An Employee Steals? (Part 2)

What Do You Do When An Employee Steals? (Part 1)

Ethical dilemma submitted by: David Unger Answered by Rabbi Yosef Rosen   David Unger Asks: Luckily, over the last 30 years, I have had only a few cases where I have caught an employee who has stolen something. In one case it was a first-class airline ticket to Australia that our magazine had earned in lieu of cash for advertising. In another case it was $300 … Continue reading What Do You Do When An Employee Steals? (Part 1)