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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 Sept. 17, 2007 / 5 Tishrei 5768

Revealing a Secret

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Should I tell my boss about my students' impending protest?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: After I taught my students about the importance of avoiding waste, they decided to organize a protest against wasteful practices at the school. They asked me to keep their secret in order to maximize the impact of their protest, but I have an obligation to my employer to inform them of disruptions. Should I respect their request?


A: In many cases, the decision between keeping a secret and preventing harm is a wrenching one. Overall, Judaism encourages keeping secrets. "One who goes about as a gossip reveals a secret, but the faithful in spirit conceals a matter" (Proverbs 11:13). Of course when disclosing the secret information could protect someone from harm, as in this case, we encounter the obligation to protect others from loss: "Don't stand idly by your fellow's blood" (Leviticus 19:16). But sometimes even potentially harmful information has to be kept secret because without a commitment to secrecy the information would never be revealed. This is relevant for example to lawyers, counselors, and some health workers. The Talmud teaches us that in such cases only extreme exigency justifies disclosure. (1)


But in this case, the dilemma is absent. Your students did not demand your silence as a condition for revealing their plans; indeed, you did not solicit their revelation at all. They should even be aware that you have some obligations to disclose potential disruptions to the administration.


Another reason that you are not obligated to secrecy is that the students' plan is improper. If by threatening to reveal it you will frustrate their plan then you are doing the right thing.


Jewish tradition does acknowledge that there is an occasional place for disruptive protest. A classic example is the following passage from the Talmud:


The wicked kingdom [Rome] decreed destruction on Israel, that they should not occupy themselves with Torah, and should not circumcise their sons, and that they should desecrate the Sabbath. What did Yehuda ben-Shamoa and his fellows do? They asked the advice of a matron who was frequented by all the Roman leadership. She said to them: Go and protest at night. They went and protested at night. They said: For heaven's sake! Are we not brothers? Are we not the sons of the same father, and are we not sons of the same mother? How are we different from every other nation and tongue that you make evil decrees on us? And they cancelled them. (2)


We see in this story the eternal essence of a demonstration: it is annoying (no one likes to be awakened in the middle of the night), but the true object is not to disturb others but in order to attract their attention in order to obtain their sympathy with a message of identification. There is an inherent element of provocation, but this is precisely meant to show that the protester is so certain of the underlying bedrock of solidarity that he is willing to risk a little annoyance. Yehuda wanted to force his Roman neighbors to say to themselves: We must have done something terrible if it has caused an upstanding human being like Yehuda ben-Shamoa, with his message of brotherhood, to risk our ire.


But our tradition equally teaches that such disruption is considered an absolute last resort, not a first one. After exhausting the usual, transparent channels of direct communication, sometimes a person has no recourse except to bring attention to his plight through a more disruptive action. In this case, the magnitude of the imagined misdeed is in no way comparable, and the students have not made even the slightest effort to learn about possible justifications for school policy or to make constructive efforts to improve it.


The Torah tells us, "Surely reprove your fellow, and don't bear sin towards him" (Leviticus 19:17). The commentators explain that the reasoning behind this commandment is that the suspected wrongdoer should first of all have an opportunity to explain and justify his actions; if he is convinced that they are wrong, he should be informed in a gentle and dignified fashion; otherwise the critic will "bear sin towards him". This admonition applies even more forcefully towards the school administration, which is due a special degree of honor.


By the same token, you should take up the matter with your students in a delicate and dignified fashion. Engage them in discussion to see why they think their divisive tactics are appropriate and try to convince them that what is needed is conversation and not confrontation.

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Avodah Zarah 28a. (2) Babylonian Talmud, Rosh HaShana 19a

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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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