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 April 30, 2007 / 12 Iyar, 5767

Under the Table

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

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Should I register my protest and give it to my friend's boss?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: My friend's employer pays her "under the table," without paying employer taxes. I would like to protest their behavior, but I'm afraid it will cost my friend her job.

A: There is definitely a place for protesting improper behavior, but we also need to examine the boundaries of this ethical imperative.

Certainly it is improper to cheat on your taxes. Employer taxes are an equitable tax with a well-defined public interest, and there is no excuse for evading them. The Talmud tells us that communities have the authority to make and enforce public regulations for the good of all. (1) The Shulchan Aruch (authoritative code of Jewish law) explicitly mentions the obligation to pay taxes to any legitimate government.(2)

It is also true that the Torah encourages each individual to help raise the general ethical level of society, including the mitzvah (commandment) of giving gentle reproof: "Don't despise your brother in your heart; surely reprove your fellow, and don't bear sin towards him". (Leviticus 19:17). The Talmud adds that a person who is able to influence others and fails to do so shares in the culpability for their wrongdoing. "Anyone who is able to [effectively] protest the actions of the members of his city and fails to do so, shares in the culpability for the members of his city". (3)

At the same time, it is clear that the Torah does not idealize a busy-body society, with each individual constantly harping on the behavior of his neighbors. So the ethical obligations mentioned come with various checks and balances.

While gentle rebuke is a mitzvah, our rabbis recognized that not everyone is adept at fulfilling it. Notice how the Torah carefully wraps the threatening part of the mitzvah -- "Surely rebuke your fellow" -- in admonitions to maintain positive relations: the verse begins "Don't despise your brother in your heart" and ends "don't bear sin towards him." It's not a coincidence that the only person in ancient royal courts who was able to publicly criticize the king was the court jester; a special talent and often a sense of humor is necessary to rebuke someone without engendering resentment or spite. In Jewish communities throughout the ages, public rebuke has been given through itinerant speakers, or "maggidim", who are experts in delivering their critical message in gentle parables and humorous stories.

Another relevant obligation here is the prohibition on believing slander. In Jewish law, it is not only forbidden to speak slander; it also forbids us to give full credence to such tales, as the Torah tells us "Don't bear a vain rumor" (Exodus 23:1). (4) This obligation also follows from the obligation to judge others favorably: "Judge your fellow with righteousness" (Leviticus 19:15), which again means not only to judge rightly, but also to give others the benefit of the doubt, as they are innocent until proven guilty. (5)

You don't have to assume your friend is spreading lies about the employer, but at the same time there are many ways to give the employer the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps your friend is not fully aware of all the payments made by her employer; perhaps there is a liquidity crisis and the employer fully intends to pay his full tax debt when he is able.

In this case there is an additional problem you mention: if you complain to the owner he will probably suspect that the information came from his employee and this may endanger her livelihood. In the end your rebuke, however justified, may cause more harm than good and, in particular, cause your friend unjustified harm.

A constructive way of reacting to this problem would be to educate others in the ethical and practical importance of paying their taxes promptly, thus making a fair contribution to the general welfare and avoiding legal complications. Perhaps people are unaware of their obligation, or fear that it is more onerous than it really is. Giving reproof to others is often called for, but in this case the knowledge of wrongdoing is so tenuous and the potential for harm so great that education is probably the more constructive path.

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Basra 8b (2) Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 163:1; see also 369:6 (3) Babylonian Talmud, tractate Shabbas 54b (4) Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 118a (5) Babylonian Talmud, Shavuos 30a.


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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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