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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

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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

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

Jewish World Review August 13, 2007 / 29 Menachem-Av, 5767

I Quit

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Retraction is human freedom, but


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: I recently agreed to take a job, and in response the employer stopped interviewing candidates. But now I've been offered a much better job. Can I go back on my agreement?


A: In a recent column, we explained that binding agreements should always be honored, and even agreements that, due to some technicality, are not yet binding should be honored unless there is a substantive and unexpected change in circumstances.


Many readers wrote with questions relating to reneging on work agreements, or quitting a job without giving adequate notice. (A person is always allowed to quit a job if customary notice is given.) Of course a work agreement is also a solemn agreement which should not be treated lightly, but Jewish tradition starkly distinguishes between labor contracts and other types. The reason is simple: compelling someone to fulfill a labor contract is like a short-term analog of servitude; yet the central theme of the Torah is the ideal of freedom.


Time and again, the Torah reminds the Jewish people that we owe allegiance to G-d because He freed us from servitude. Even before the Exodus, G-d tells Moses: "Therefore, go tell the children of Israel, I am the Lord; I will take you out of the suffering of Egypt, and save you from their servitude, and redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. And I will take you to me as a people, and I will be to you G-d, and you will know that I am the Lord your G-d who takes you out of the servitude of Egypt" (Exodus 6:6-7). After the Exodus, G-d tells us, "And you shall keep my commandments and do them; I am the Lord. . . Who took you out of the land of Egypt to by your G-d; I am the Lord" (Lev. 22:31-33).


The redemption from Egypt is mentioned specifically as the basis for many ritual commandments such as tefillin (Exodus 13:9), the Passover sacrifice (Exodus 13:14, 23:15 and elsewhere), the sukkah (Exodus 23:43), tzitzis or fringes (Numbers 15:41) and others. But it is particularly prominent as the basis for commandments to enforce the freedom of others: to free indentured servants and not employ them in a demeaning fashion (Leviticus 25), to give them a generous severance grant (Deuteronomy 15:15), and to give them Sabbath rest (Deuteronomy 5:14), and to have mercy on the poor and helpless and judge them fairly (Deuteronomy 24:18). This also includes not to exploit the unwitting or powerless with misleading measures (Leviticus 19:36) or with usurious loans (Leviticus 25:38).


The sages of the Talmud extrapolated from this freedom principle that a hired worker is allowed to quit any time he or she wants, without a penalty. G-d says of His people, "They are My servants, whom I took out from the land of Egypt; they may not be sold like chattel slaves" (Leviticus 25:38). The Talmud explains: My servants, and not servants to servants (that is, to other human beings). (1)


It follows that even after a person agrees to take a job, or even if he or she has already begun working, the worker can change his or her mind and decide to leave the job for some other pursuit.


However, this permission has legal, ethical and practical reservations.


One important legal reservation is that this does not apply when the retraction would involve a loss on the part of the employer, when the employer has reasonably relied on the employee's promise. It's easy to find a band for a wedding, so if a few weeks beforehand the band decides they can't make it they are within their rights to retract. But it's almost impossible to find a suitable band on very short notice, so it's not permissible to call up the same day and announce you've decided to skip the gig. (2)


Many early authorities suggest out that since the entire reason for the leniency allowing retraction is human freedom, a person may not retract merely because someone else offers more money. (3) Servants of G-d may rightfully refuse to be servants to their fellow man, but in this case the worker is perfectly happy to be a servant, he just wants to obtain more money for it. The application of this reservation is often unclear. It is unusual that the only difference between two jobs is the salary; in general there are also different conditions, chances for advancement, etc. All these affect our freedom. Also, sometimes a higher salary can increase a person's means so much that they create a meaningful improvement in freedom and opportunity. However, on an ethical level getting more pay is a poor reason to renege on a firm work commitment.


On the practical level, job-hopping can be a very dangerous strategy. At the height of the high-tech boom, some workers enjoyed playing a kind of professional musical chairs, dancing from one position to another with higher pay each time. But many of these individuals were left without a chair when the music stopped. In addition, word gets around and employers may be reluctant to hire someone who they perceive as having insufficient commitment.


If you really believe that the new job will offer you significantly better opportunities in the long term, then you are within your rights to offer your regrets to the first employer. The new job is similar to the unexpected change of circumstances we discussed by other kinds of agreements. But if the benefit is limited to a quick buck, you should carefully consider if this benefit outweighs your commitment to the first employer and your reputation for reliability.

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 10a (2) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 75b (2) Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 333

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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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