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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 May 30, 2006 / 3 Sivan, 5766

Where credit is due

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Should I give recognition to a modest man who did a great deed?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: A man in our town went to great lengths to mobilize his own resources and those of others in the community to help a distressed and needy person. Is it proper to publicize his acts by reporting them to the news media?


A: In general, Judaism looks favorably on giving recognition and honor to those who perform good deeds. Most simply, this is an appropriate way of showing our gratitude and admiration. Beyond this, most people value recognition, so providing it serves as an incentive for people to devote their energies to acts of generosity.


The great Medieval sage Rabbi Shlomo Adret (known as Rashba) writes that it is appropriate to record a donor's name on a synagogue. "And this is the way of the sages and elders, in order to provide a reward for those who do a mitzvah [religious duty]. And this is the way of the Torah [Bible], which records and publicizes mitzvah doers." (1) Rabbi Adret is pointing out that Scripture itself records the deeds of our great forebears. While the Torah writes that Moses was the meekest of all people on the face of the earth, (Numbers 12:3), the Torah's own account insured that Moses is also one of the most famous people who ever lived on the face of the earth!


Continuing with the theme of incentives, Rabbi Adret cites a Midrash, which states: "If Reuben would have known that the Torah would write 'And Reuben heard and saved [Joseph] from their hand' (Genesis 37:21), he would have carried him on his shoulders! And if Aaron had known that the Torah would write 'Behold, he is coming forth to meet you [Moses], and when he sees you his heart will be glad,' (Exodus 4:14) he would have come forth to greet him with dances and tambourines! (2) Note that the Midrash doesn't hint that people are motivated to help others because they seek recognition; but it does tell us that people act with much greater enthusiasm when they know their efforts will be appreciated and acknowledged.

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Yet at times people have good reasons for doing good deeds in secret. This could be out of modesty or shame, or perhaps because they have personal or even professional reasons to shun publicity. Perhaps they are afraid to be seen as publicity seekers. After all, you will know that this man never sought media attention, but others may think that he himself notified the newspapers, or asked you to do so; they may even think that he only did a good deed in order to get publicity. The result would be shame, rather than honor.


Recognizing this potential for a boomerang effect, the Talmud tells a story of the Jewish leader and scholar, Rabbi Yehudah the Prince, who publicly complimented a student on his beautiful manuscript of a sacred text. The student demurred that the writing was not his, but rather that of another scribe. Rabbi Yehudah told him "Decease from slander!" (3)


Overall, I think there is little likelihood that harm would come as a result of your turning to the news media. The acts were not done in true secrecy, so the person is not totally shying away from attention, and in any case chances are that if the hero declines to cooperate with reporters that they would in any case drop the story.


A good approach would be to start with people close to the hero, such as his wife, and ask if they think he would be averse to publicizing his story. Or raise the topic with him in an oblique way. (If you ask him outright if he wants media attention he will almost certainly say no.) If you do decide to go forward, insist that the reporter commit himself to going forward with the story only if the subject is in agreement. I don't believe that it is wise to rely on commitments like these from reporters in the case of important and controversial stories like whistle-blowing cases, but in a feel-good story like this I don't think you need to worry that a reporter would insist on publishing the story without good will from all sides.


SOURCES: (1) Responsa Rashba I:581. (2) Leviticus Rabbah on Leviticus 25:35 (3) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Basra 164b IMPORTANT NOTE:


There were many fascinating responses to the recent article on cheating the insurance company to obtain a life-saving medication. A number of readers wrote that drug companies often give substantial discounts to patients needing life-saving treatment not covered by insurance and beyond their means. Therefore, they strongly recommend that someone in this tragic situation should turn first to the manufacturer of the drug to see if some compromise can be arranged.

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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:

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