Home
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 August 20, 2007 / 6 Elul, 5767

Help yourself

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

Limit 'unlimited'?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: Breakfast at my hotel is a buffet. Is it okay to take a little back to the room for a snack later in the day? After all, I paid for the food.


A: Most restaurants with buffets are very strict about taking any food out of the restaurant. Hotel dining rooms are a little different. While the official policy is almost always restrictive, in practice they are often willing to be lenient; they consider a small amount of food taken for consumption later to be part of the service. I think this is partly because restaurants are only making money from the food, so they can't afford to be lenient, whereas hotels are mostly profiting from the room. And partly it is because breakfast food is usually inexpensive and often perishable, so the hotel doesn't lose very much if you take a few rolls with butter to the room.


In a number of places the Talmud discusses if a person may "help himself" to someone else's property when it is likely that the person doesn't mind. The conclusion is that a person must ask permission, and that the permission must be freely granted, and not due to any kind of pressure or duress.


For instance, the Talmud tells the story of three sages, Ameimar, Mar Zutra, and Rav Ashi who visited a colleague, Mari bar Isak. When the visitors arrived the host was not present, so they were greeted by his tenant who served them some fruit. Rav Ashi refrained from eating from the fruit, because he was concerned that the tenant might not have permission from the householder. When the host Mari bar Isak arrived and saw what was happening, he asked the tenant, "Why didn't you bring even better produce to the rabbis?" Rav Ashi's colleagues assumed that he would consider this permission to eat, yet he still abstained! He explained that he was concerned that since the fruit had already been served, Mari bar Isak was be embarrassed to show that he didn't give permission for the tenant to serve his colleagues; thus, the consent was not freely given. (1)


Here is another story: "A [hired] brewer betrothed [his fiancée] with a cask of beer. When the brewery owner came and saw him, he said, Why didn't you give her the best brew?" Seemingly this shows generous permission. Even so, the betrothal is considered doubtful; the concern is that the owner only agreed so as not to embarrass his employee, but that doesn't show that the brewer really had permission to take the beer for his own use in this way. (2)


In each case, the employee had good reason to assume that the owner would consent; yet in each case we find that "good reason to assume" is not really good enough. Furthermore, we see that in this case assent after the fact is not valid; there is a concern that the consent is granted only to avoid making a scene.


So even though many hotels are amenable to allowing some food to be taken to the rooms, we can't rely on this assumption. It is necessary to ask permission from some authorized employee. We also learn from both stories that not any employee is enough; after all, in each case it was an employee who appropriated the goods yet this is still not consent. Usually a server is not authorized to give this kind of permission; you would need to go to a manager like the captain or maitre d'.


Finally, we learn that we can't "shoot first and ask questions later". If you have already taken food and then ask if that's okay, the manager will want to avoid creating a scene with a customer, and is unlikely to object; in this case the permission is not freely given.


In all cases when we think permission is likely but not certain to be forthcoming, the correct course of action is to ask someone who has authority to give permission. Otherwise we can never be sure that we have a genuine right to help ourselves.

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 22a. Mar Zutra's colleagues were not concerned because they were certain that the tenant was serving his own fruits, not those of the host. (2) Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 52b; Maimonides' Code, Ishus 5:8.

ARCHIVES

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.


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.

THE JEWISH ETHICIST, NOW IN BOOK FORM

You've enjoyed his columns on JWR for years. Now the Jewish Ethicist has culled his most intriguing — and controversial — offerings in book form.
HARDCOVER
PAPERBACK
Sales help fund JWR.









© 2007, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics