Hammerman on Ethics

Is it Ethical to Boycott BP?

08/03/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q- Do you think it's right for people to boycott BP and get their gas elsewhere, as punishment for the oil spill?

There is definitely a "punish at the pumps" mentality afloat with regard to BP and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and I must admit, I haven't stopped at a BP since it happened. Gassing up at BP in this hostile climate would be like wearing a mink at PETA convention.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Hanky Panky on a Shul Board

07/16/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

 Q - I'm a shul president and I've just discovered that two of my board members have been carrying on an affair, using board meeting nights as cover for their trysts. I like them both and they are very hard workers. I like their spouses too. I'm not sure what to do. Do I confront them? Do I tell the rabbi? Do I kick them off the board?

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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

Helen Thomas: Should We Forgive an Anti-Semite Who Apologizes?

06/10/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q: The Helen Thomas case prompts a question: What she said on that video was horrible, but given the fact that she apologized and is so old, isn’t it in the spirit of Judaism to forgive her?

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Is it OK to Hide a Fugitive From the Police?

06/07/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q: You are out for a walk one night and you see a man running towards you. He looks terrified, stressed and panicked. He comes up to you with tears in his eyes and says, “I am going to hide right here. I can’t run anymore. I didn’t do anything wrong. Please, promise me you won’t tell them where I am!”

So you promise the man, he hides behind a bush and you keep walking.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

No Handshake: Don't Take it Personally

06/01/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q: Hey Rabbi-- I have a quick question. I met the Rabbi at the Chabad at our school. Anyways, I had a long conversation with him and when I went to leave I put out my hand to shake his hand and he politely declined. Does my hand have a disease? What's going on here?
Thanks and hope everything is well

A: No you don't have a disease!

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

The Ethics of Giving: Jewish vs. Non-Jewish?

05/18/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q: My wife and I disagree about charitable giving. I believe most of our charitable dollars should go to helping our own Jewish people; she wants to give to local non-Jewish groups, like the homeless shelter and food bank. What's the magic formula about Jewish v. non-Jewish giving, according to Jewish law?

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Should I be concerned about my kid's non-Jewish friend?

05/10/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q. My daughter, 10, goes to a Jewish day school, but her best friend is a non-Jewish neighbor. Should I be concerned? What should I tell her?

A. There might be underlying reason for concern, though not specifically because her BFF isn’t an MOT (Member of the Tribe).

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Animal Cruelty and Jewish Law

05/03/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q: This may sound weird, but I think my neighbor is cruel to his pet beagle. I know that if this was a person we were talking about, Jewish law would obligate me to go to the authorities. But this is a DOG. What's my obligation here?

A. You need to pursue this. I say this not merely because I am life-long pet-o-phile, a vegetarian with two cuddly standard poodles. I say this also because it is the right thing to do. Jewish culture has long championed animal rights.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Coming Clean with a Fiancée

A relationship that begins with massive deception has little chance of long term success

04/15/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Q:  I'm about to get married to the woman of my dreams. She knows I was married before; what she doesn't know is that the marriage broke up because I was a schmuck. Ethically speaking, how much do I need to tell her?

You have a right to privacy, but a relationship that begins with massive deception has little chance of long term success.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman
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