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 Oct. 5, 2009 / 17 Tishrei 5770

Bet I can?

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. Our office has a friendly sports pool, where people bet on games. I am a good picker and a steady winner. My question is, given my advantage, are my winnings fair?

A. Many workplaces have similar friendly betting pools. To the best of my knowledge these pools are legal in most states on the condition that there is no "house" profiting from the winnings of others, and on the condition that winners declare their winnings. A 2008 New York Times article states: "Seth Borden, a partner in the New York law firm of Kreitzman Mortensen & Borden, says that the law in New York is vague, but as long as organizers do not receive money for running the operation, most 'social gambling' is acceptable." In many offices the share of the "house" goes for donuts or other amenities that benefit all.

If we look at the teachings of our sages, we find many statements impugning gambling. For example, the Mishna tells us that "a person may make cast lots among his children and household members on the table, as long as he doesn't specifically intend to cast between a large and a small portion — because of gambling". (1) In other words, if there are a number of portions then it is permissible to distribute them by lot, but if the sizes are so unequal that it turns into a kind of lottery it's wrong.

In another place, the Mishna tells us that gamblers are disqualified to give testimony in a Jewish court. (2)

However, in each case we find that the Talmudic discussion tempers the categorical condemnation of the Mishna. In the passage in Shabbos, it concludes that the prohibition on "gambling" over portions at the table doesn't apply to household members but only to strangers. It seems that to the extent we know the game is completely friendly it is OK.

Likewise, the Mishna in Sanhedrin concludes that only professional gamblers are disqualified. One reason given in the Talmudic passage is that professional gamblers tend to be "hustlers", taking advantage of bettors who have unrealistic expectations of their ability to win. The commentators explain that this is particularly true in games of skill where people tend to overestimate their ability. (Popular games for hustlers include games of skill like pool and chess.) Another reason is that professionals have an easy-come, easy-go attitude towards money, like "high rollers", and are not reliable witnesses in court. In my opinion this restriction would apply also to a compulsive gambler, who by definition is not in control of his habit and is not rationally assessing the odds of loss.

Again, in the case of a low-stakes friendly game where everyone is aware of the odds there would not seem to be a problem.

So if I would voice a concern over informed consent in your workplace, it would not be with respect to your colleagues but with respect to you. Given that betting on sporting events is wildly popular and odds are readily available, the chances are slim that you are truly more skillful than your office mates. Remember that in any game someone must end up ahead; that person may be very likely to think that he is the most skillful but in most cases he is just lucky.

So by all means continue to kick in small sums to the office pool to make watching the game more fun, but think twice before you begin to consider it a source of income.

SOURCES: (1) Mishna, Shabbos 23:2, Talmud, Shabbost 149b. (2) Mishna Sanhedrin 3:3.

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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.


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