Jewish law

The Ethics of WikiLeaks

12/10/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q. Was the leaking of a trove of private diplomatic communications ethical? And once leaked, is it ethical for news organizations to publish them?

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Is Greed Godly?

Jews may be well represented in the annals of white-collar fraud, but halacha explicitly requires us to be honest, taxpaying citizens.

12/03/2010

Greed,” Jewish stock speculator Ivan Boesky declared in 1985, “is healthy,” a thought echoed by the fictional Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie “Wall Street,” starring Michael Douglas. It was such a great line, that it was used again in the recent sequel: “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”

The Red Bridle

Poverty is hardly beautiful, but we are commanded not to look away from it.

12/03/2010

There is a folk saying quoted in the Talmud and Midrash, which some sources even ascribe to Rabbi Akiba, “Poverty is as fitting to the Jews as a red bridle on a white horse.” It’s sweet, if a little fatalistic. Do we really think that poor Jews are so attractive? These days, it is not a small question, as greater and greater numbers of Jews find themselves jobless. That great alphabet soup of Jewish organizations has tightened its collective belt a notch or two, so even our Jewish professionals find themselves scrambling to make a living.

Brass ‘Shul’/Temple-shaped Charity Container. Courtesy Moriah Gallery

A Jewish Imperative to live in the Diaspora?

10/15/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Living in caravans in a small settlement town during my years learning in Israel, my dream was always to settle the land. As a religious Zionist, I feel that living in Israel is a tremendous and miraculous opportunity, and all Jews can and must consider making this life transition as we are all very familiar with the halakhic obligation of yishuv ha’aretz, the religious obligation to settle the Land of Israel. I would like to suggest, however, that in addition to this well-known imperative, there is also a crucial duty to reside in the Diaspora.

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz

Understanding Jewish Divorce Law

08/17/2010

‘When a man takes a wife and marries her, and she does not find grace in his eyes because he has found her to be sexually immoral, he shall write her a bill of divorcement, give it to her in her hand, and send her away from his house” [Deuteronomy 24:1].

This text is the source for Jewish divorce law. At first glance, the Torah seems to be making two clear statements: a divorce can only be initiated if a major sin, such as adultery, has been committed, and that it is the husband who must unilaterally give the divorce to his wife.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

Is It Ethical to Read My Husband's Email?

06/29/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q. Is it ethical to read my husband’s email? I don't have reason to think he's cheating, but I' m the nervous type…

If you have no reason to suspect him, you would be putting far too much at risk by invading his privacy.  You in fact would be the one guilty of betraying trust.  Let it go.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

The BP Oil Spill, Personal Responsibility and Jewish Law

06/18/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

This April, an explosion on a BP drilling rig caused the largest oil spill to have ever hit the Gulf of Mexico, which has led to mass public damage and estimates of around 60,000 barrels continuing to flow out each day. There are ongoing debates over who is to blame for this massive spill and who is accountable for the cleanup: The US government? BP? Halliburton? Transocean? Many fingers have been pointed and responsibility needs to be taken, but amid the cacophony of corporate vs. government clashes, we can also learn personal lessons from this fiasco.

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz

New Zealand Bans Shechita

05/28/2010
JTA

SYDNEY (JTA) – New Zealand has banned shechita, the kosher slaughter of animals.

The country’s new animal welfare code, which took effect Friday, mandates that all animals for commercial consumption be stunned prior to slaughter to ensure they are treated “humanely and in accordance with good practice and scientific knowledge.”

The regulation has shocked the Jewish community.

Should I Keep An Undeserved Bonus?

04/09/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

 Q. My boss has decided to give me a big bonus for something I only helped with; another worker deserves it more than I do. But I need the money, and she is pretty well off. What's the right thing to do?

 A. Maybe your contribution was more integral to the success of the project than you realize. But, regardless, you should be forthcoming. Not only does our tradition demand honesty in how we conduct business, but it's really the most practical professional decision you can make.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman
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