In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 14, 2009 / 25 Elul 5769

Investing charity money in a sure-fire investment

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q.I'm the head of a non-profit organization. The organization has some spare cash that I am convinced I can invest at a profit. Should I go ahead and benefit my organization in this way?

A. Talmud has an interesting discussion regarding the propriety of investing charity funds.

Rabbah asked Rav Yosef: What do we do with orphans' funds? He said, we deposit them in court, and distribute them little by little. He said, then you exhaust the capital! He said, what then should we do? He said, we investigate a person who has known assets [to collect from in case he should lose the deposit], and deposit their money with him near to profit and far from loss [the active partner splits profits but bears all losses]. . . That's very well if we find someone who has certain assets, but if we can't find someone who has certain assets shall we let the orphans' funds dissipate? Rather, Rav Ashi stated: We find a person of stable property, reliable, who is obedient to the Torah and is not under a ban, and we deposit it by him in court.(1)

The sages of the Talmud are trying to find the right balance between risk and return for charity funds – in this case, money belonging to minor orphans and being administered by a court-supervised guardian. Rav Yosef is unwilling to take any risk, and advocates simply disbursing the money. Rabbah is willing to invest only if the investor is willing to personally bear any losses and can actually provide security for potential losses in advance – certainly a very unusual situation. Rav Ashi is the most lenient; he is willing to settle for the case where the investor agrees to bear the losses and appears willing and able to do so.

Based on Rav Ashi's opinion, you can go right ahead and invest the money if you can personally cover any losses. Of course you would need the approval of the board of your charity before making such a far-reaching step.

However, it is extremely unusual nowadays for a private individual to be willing or even able to personally make good losses of the charity. (If the backer was sure of the quality of the investment it would make much more sense to borrow the money and invest it himself, giving any profits to charity.) So it seems that making even prudent investments could be quite difficult.

Later authorities, in response to changing situations, acknowledged that sometimes the requirement for co-signing could be waived, if it made it prohibitively difficult to invest charity funds productively.(2) However, there is still a requirement for careful oversight, expressed in the passage by the need for someone stable, reliable and obedient, and for proper documentation ("deposit it by him in court").

Experience has shown that the only way to do this effectively is by having an investment committee made up of a number of experienced experts who have the best interest of the charity foremost. There is no way for a single individual to exercise the appropriate degree of judgment and knowledge. This is especially true for someone like you, whose judgment would be colored by his involvement in the day-to-day management of the organization.

If you believe that the future interests of the organization would be best served by investing its funds in something more risky than a bank account or CD, you should recommend to the board that they establish a properly constituted investment committee for this purpose.

Another route: if you are so certain that this investment is a sure thing, you might want to invest your own money and promise to give a certain fraction of the returns to the charity. But experience shows that there is no way to know in advance if any investment is a sure thing.

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 70a. (2) Cf. R. Avraham ben Mordechai HaLevi, response Ginas Veradim, Choshen Mishpat IV:1.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology.


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© 2009, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics