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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. 24, 2007 / 12 Tishrei 5768

Vice stocks

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Questionable investments and values


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: Is it unethical to invest in "vice stocks," such as those specializing in immodest entertainment?


A: In a previous column, we discussed the different levels of complicity with wrongdoing. The worst is enabling wrongdoing; this is when the transgression could not take place without your involvement. The next level is participating betting wrongdoing; this means that you take an active role in the proscribed action, although without your involvement someone else would have been found. These two levels are fairly clearly defined and strictly prohibited.


A third level of complicity we described is condoning wrongdoing. This is when a person gives the impression that he approves of some prohibited activity. As we explain there, the criteria for condoning are much more subjective; the message transmitted by silence is dependent on a person's capacity for effective protest, which in turn depend on his status and on the general acceptance of the behavior. If a company engages in wrongdoing, the CEO is much more culpable for condoning than a low-level functionary. Protesting toxic waste is popular and often effective, but protesting atheism in our day may be considered quixotic, so religious people are not "condoning" it merely because they don't engage in indignant protests of disbelief.


All of these levels are prohibited because of their effect on the behavior itself: when we enable, abet or condone some harmful activity then this activity is likely to be perpetuated. However, there is a fourth, more subtle impact of complicity in wrongdoing: its effect on a person's character. A person has a responsibility to society, but also a responsibility to his or her self; and a person's character is inevitably influenced by his actions and interests. Indeed, one of the most studied and revered books about traditional Judaism, the 13th century Sefer HaChinuch, explains that the entire system of commandments is based on this principle: "A person's heart is drawn after his actions". (1)


We find many examples where Jewish tradition warns us that a financial interest or benefit is likely to influence our character and opinions. The most prominent is the prohibition on accepting bribes or gifts from litigants: "Don't accept bribes, for bribes blind the sighted and distort the words of the righteous" (Exodus 23:8). As Rashi's commentary explains, it is forbidden to take bribes even if there is no condition to distort the decision, because getting a benefit creates an instinctive alignment of views.


Another fascinating example is found in the renowned late authority Rabbi Yehoshua (Falk) Katz. The Bible teaches that a person should avoid accepting gifts: "He who shuns gifts, will live" (Proverbs 15:27). Rabbi Katz explains a rationale for this: "One who is eager for presents has to flatter others, and he won't reprove them for bad deeds he sees in them." (2)


This is very relevant for your question. Perhaps the world is probably no worse off for your investment in a shady entertainment company. But there will be a big difference in how you feel hearing that their latest offering is a blockbuster in cinemas or a bestseller on videos. Instead of feeling dismay that people are wasting their time and money and corrupting their morals, you are likely to feel elated that your stock is growing in value.

SOURCES: (1) Sefer HaChinuch mitzvah 16. (2) Sema commentary, Choshen Mishpat 249:4

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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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