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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 July 6, 2009 / 14 Tamuz 5769

Whistle blowing has exceptions

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. In a recent column, you advised a person working in a criminal environment how he can avoid personal responsibility for wrongdoing. Isn't this evading ethical responsibility for preventing crime?


A. A number of readers wrote with variations of this valid question. Due to restrictions of time and space, each column can deal with only one aspect of a question; the aspect I related to was the one most relevant to the asker. But the one you raise is equally important and we will discuss it now. I emphasize that everything in this column refers only to causing monetary harm, and does not necessary apply when an employer's activity involves danger to life.


Any time we witness wrongdoing, we have a responsibility to intervene. The first responsibility is to the wrongdoer. Even if the crime is a totally victimless one such as a ritual transgression (for example, desecrating the Sabbath), we have a responsibility to reprove the wrongdoer, to remind him of his religious and ethical obligations and help him return to the proper track. This is the essence of the Torah commandment of reproof: "Surely reprove your fellow, and don't bear sin towards him." (Leviticus 19:17.)


Another aspect of the responsibility to protest is the problem of condoning wrongdoing, as mentioned in the previous column. Anyone who is present when wrongdoing takes place and fails to protest may be seen as condoning the wrongdoing and being to some extent complicit in it.


Anyone who has the ability to protest the members of his household but doesn't protest, is held liable for the members of his household. For the residents of his city — he is held liable for the residents of his city. For the entire world — he is liable for the entire world. (1)


Again, this can apply even in a "victimless crime." We could view this as a responsibility to ourselves, to decisively disassociate ourselves from sin.


Above all, there is an ethical responsibility towards the victim. The Torah commands, "Don't stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16), thus creating an affirmative duty to protect others from harm. This above all creates a general ethical obligation to warn someone if he is being defrauded. (As we have mentioned in previous columns, disclosure is proper only if it is necessary for protecting the interests of the victim and doesn't cause disproportionate harm to the perpetrator.)


However, all of these obligations have their limits. Just as we don't have to incur significant bodily danger in order to save others from bodily danger, likewise a person doesn't have to incur financial loss in order to save others from financial loss. That means that if you are not personally involved in the wrongdoing, you are exempt from warning others if it involves personal loss — especially if it is irretrievable personal loss.


Rabbi Moshe Isserles writes in his authoritative glosses to the Shulchan Aruch (authoritative Code of Jewish Law):


Even though a person is obligated to protest wrongdoers, and anyone who doesn't protest and has the ability to protest is liable for that transgression, even so a person is not obligated to spend money on this. Therefore it is customary to take a lenient approach to transgressors, when there is a fear they may harm our person or possessions. (2)


Sadly, experience shows that so-called "whistle-blowers" usually suffer great personal loss and anguish. They almost invariably lose their jobs and in many cases lose their careers. Therefore, while it is certainly praiseworthy to protect people from fraud as soon as possible, I generally advise people to think through the consequences very carefully before they take such a far-reaching step. The essential first step is to make sure that you yourself are not participating in any wrongdoing. Usually the next step is to try to disengage yourself from the morally toxic work environment, by finding a new job. For most people, only then it will be practical for them to contemplate righting the wrong by blowing the whistle.


SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Shabbas 54b (2) Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 334:48

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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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