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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 June 12, 2006 / 16 Sivan, 5766

The Corporation and the Divine

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Where does the Almighty fit into your corporation's mission statement?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: Lately many business corporations have tried to define their mission in relation to G-d's will. Does Judaism support this trend?


A: A. There does seem to be an awakening of interest in the proper role of G-d in our business dealings. A book titled G-d is my CEO has become a national bestseller, while major corporations have introduced mention of the Creator in their corporate communications. For example, the mission statement of food producer Tyson foods states that the "We strive to honor G-d," while ServiceMaster states that its objective is "Honor G-d in all we do."


Of course Judaism believes that consciousness of the Divine must permeate all of our everyday activities. This is precisely the significance of the many commandments the Torah specifies. Most commandments do not tell us to engage in other-worldly activities. Instead, they provide limits on how we engage in mundane affairs like eating (laws of kosher food and making blessings), family life (laws of family purity), and of course business.


This in turn elevates and sanctifies all aspects of human experience.


This is of course the main purpose of my column: To explain to readers how G-d's Torah can guide us in our workplace and marketplace dealings and make them conform to His will.


Beyond the simple assertion that business can, even must, be an arena for carrying out G-d's will and plan, it is worth examining exactly how we should describe His role. The CEO paradigm suggests an active, interventionist role for religious consciousness, one in which G-d's will is communicated at the level of specific policies and directions for the firm. A contrasting but widely publicized paradigm is that of "stewardship". A steward is left in charge of property which is not his; he is charged with using his judgment to preserve and exploit them for the benefit of a largely absent owner.


While we can find echoes of these approaches in Jewish sources as well, I think that the best characterization of the Jewish view is the "partner paradigm". When it comes to everyday activities requiring human judgment and initiative, G-d is not so much above us as (like a CEO) as beside us; he is not absent (like the master of the steward) but present.


The idea of G-d as a partner is found in many places in our tradition. The Talmud tells us "There are three partners in the creation of a person: G-d, and his father, and his mother." (1). Another expression of this idea is the Talmudic statement that the ultimate way to introduce holiness into our lives is to emulate G-d, to learn from His example. The Torah tells us to "go after G-d". (Deuteronomy 13:5.) The Talmud asks, can a person really "follow" the divine presence? Rather, we should follow His ways, and engage in acts of kindness. (2)

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But in practice, the most outstanding example of viewing the G-d as a partner is in fact in the sphere of business. The rabbis took the idea of G-d as a business partner beyond an instructive metaphor and viewed it as a practical and legal paradigm. The custom of giving a tenth of one's income to charity was formalized in a responsum of the 16th century authority Yair Bachrach as an actual business partnership. The responsum concludes that the calculation of "income" for purposes of this tithe is according to the usual rules of figuring business expenses. (3)


This approach echoes an earlier responsum of Rabbi Yosef Karo, the author of the authoritative Code of Jewish Law. The Talmud learns from a Scriptural verse that a person is allowed to give charity with the expectation of an earthly reward. The Torah says, "Surely tithe"; the rabbis infer that tithing surely leads to wealth. (4) The proof is in the verse from the prophet Malachi (3:10): "Bring Me all the tithe to the treasury, and there will be provision in My house; test Me with this, says the Lord of hosts, if I don't open for you the channels of the heavens, and I will pour out endless blessing."


Rabbi Karo writes that this is true only if he makes a precise accounting of ten percent of his net income which is given to charity. (5). This makes sense if we view this accounting as a way of making G-d an explicit partner in the business; then He is sure to contribute the unique "capital" of divine blessing and so a person has a legitimate expectation of making a profit.


Our business dealings need to be conducted with a consciousness of G-d's concern. Since we are not prophets, we can't rely on Him for everyday guidance in the mundane aspects of running a business, as if He were a senior manager. The idea of a salaried "steward" is also not quite accurate; G-d permits and encourages us to take an active ownership interest in our worldly activities, and to enjoy their fruits in appropriate moderation. Rather, His delegation of everyday responsibility, His constant presence, and His insistence on the ground rules of Torah make the relationship most like that of a silent partner who provides the essential wherewithal to make a business successful and then leaves the active day to day management to the active partner, subject to the basic conditions of partnership.


More than our CEO or our master, G-d is our partner in running effective and ethical business enterprises. SOURCES: (1) Kiddushin 30b (2) Sota 14 (3) Responsa Chavos Yair 224 (4) Taanis 9a. The actual inference is from the repetition of the Hebrew words 'aser t'aser; the inference is tithe ('aser) in order to become wealthy (tisasher, where the s and the sh are written with the same Hebrew letter.) (5) Responsum Avkas Rochel 3.

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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. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


Previously:

Does an expert witness have to be impartial?
Should I give recognition to a modest man who did a great deed?
In representing my firm, can I tell a white lie?
Defrauding insurance to save a life
Can top level management unilaterally give away money to corporate dollars to charity?
Loans to Family Members
How much worker supervision is too much?
Should I turn in a colleague for inappropriate acts?
Priority in charitable giving
Trolls and ogres
How many hours of work is too many?
Can I promote my product by having it unobtrusively written into a story?
He's not heavy he's my brother
All's fair in war?, II
All's fair in war?
Girth vs. worth
Is it proper to tax bequests?
Ethics of Being Overweight
Penalized for working swiftly
When is it a bluff?
'Rate and switch'
My paycheck is late!
Should schools cater to an elite?
All's fair in love?
Comfort and Competition
Do I need the caller's permission to put a call on the speakerphone?
Overtime for lost time
Is it unethical to play suppliers against each other to get the lowest bid possible?
Do family members have precedence in charity allotments?
What the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal
Are religious leaders subject to criticism?
Vindictive Vendor: How can I punish an abusive competitor?
Blogging Ethics: Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?







© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics