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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

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

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Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

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

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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

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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

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Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

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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

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

Jewish World Review Oct. 1, 2007 / 19 Tishrei 5768

Eat Now, Pay Later

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Can I open kids' treats in the supermarket and pay at checkout?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: When I take children to the market I often give them a treat before I pay to keep them quiet. Is this proper?


A: The case of taking someone's property with the intention of paying afterwards is discussed in two main Talmudic passages. Let us see how the nuances of these passages can shed light on your dilemma.


In a seemingly similar situation, the Talmud asks if it is possible to feed one's animals from a stranger's field with the intention of paying afterwards. The conclusion is that this is forbidden. A Scriptural allusion is found in the verse: "If the wicked will return his theft, he has gone in the laws of life" (Ezek, 33:15). The future tense is interpreted literally: if he WILL return his theft, he is still called wicked (at the time of the theft itself). (1) The evident justification for this prohibition is that the owner may not find this arrangement advantageous. He may not be interested in getting payment, preferring instead the object. Also, a future promise of payment is not very attractive.


Based on this rationale, the distinguished early authority Rabbi Asher ben-Yechiel writes that if payment is ready and the owner is clearly willing to sell it is permissible, "for instance, an object which is for sale." (2)


From this point of view there is no objection to your behavior. The merchandise you take is clearly intended for sale, and your don't plan to pay for it at some unspecified future time but rather immediately as you leave the store — exactly as you would have had you bought without opening. For this reason many stores don't have any objection to occasional cases of "eat now pay later".


However, there is another relevant consideration which we learn from a different passage in the Talmud. The Torah commands "Don't steal" (Leviticus 19:11.) The Talmud infers from the categorical nature of this commandment that stealing is forbidden under all circumstances. Stealing is prohibited even if the intention is to return the stolen object and pay the requisite fine, which would seem to provide an unambiguous benefit for the "victim". (3) Maimonides explains that this is "lest he become accustomed" (4). This is a common theme in Jewish sources: taking advantage of seeming loopholes in prohibitions is often prohibited since this tends to weaken our natural aversion to wrongdoing. By the time a person steals a few times as a practical joke and a few more times as a way of "rewarding" the victim with the payment of the fine, stealing doesn't seem to him a very serious transgression, and it will be easy to find additional justifications and rationalizations.


I think this consideration is definitely valid in the case of buying from a supermarket. The items are not neatly arranged and easily observable, and a customer can easily slide down the slippery slope into an "easy-come, easy-go" attitude towards paying — not to mention the mess. Therefore, even in supermarkets which do not object when you eat first and pay later, I think that this should be done only when there is a compelling reason, for instance the example you give of keeping young children quiet. And of course the wrapping must be scrupulously preserved so that the cashier can easily scan the item without getting a hand full of gook and drool.

SOURCES: (1(1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Kamma 60b (2) Rosh commentary. (3) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 61b (4) Maimonides' Code, Geneiva 1:2

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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.

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