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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 Oct. 26, 2009 / 7 Mar-Cheshvan 5770

Damaging disclosures with a twist

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. A person I know is going around borrowing money for his business. I happen to know that his business is not going so great, so there is a good chance lenders may not get their money back. I feel like I should inform them, but I'm afraid that if I tell people I will actually be precipitating a failure and do more harm than good to the lenders.


A. Your question is a twist on the usual dilemma involving damaging disclosures. Let's examine the usual situation:


The Torah commands us, "Don't go about as a talebearer among your people; don't stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16). The first half of the verse prohibits slander or any other kind of damaging revelation about others, but the second half tempers that prohibition: Our concern for the reputation of the wrongdoer shouldn't induce us to stand idly by when someone is liable to suffer a loss from his actions.


The classic book Chafetz Chaim by Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaCohen explains how we harmonize these competing principles. Revelation is justified when there is no other way to prevent someone from suffering a loss, and when the revelation doesn't cause undeserved harm to the subject.


.Thus, the evaluation process is simple. First, we see if the potentially damaging revelation is really likely to save someone from a loss. If it is, we see if there is any other way to prevent the loss. If there is none, we check to see if the revelation will cause disproportionate harm to the subject of the disclosure. If there isn't, then disclosure is appropriate.


In your case, there is a twist. You can't evaluate the likelihood of loss in isolation from the reporting itself. The reason is that the very fact that you report the danger may actually augment the danger.


The key question here is the extent of the danger. At one extreme, borrowing money in a doomed effort to prop up a failing business is really a variation of a pyramid scheme. You're borrowing Peter to pay Paul until the day comes that you just can't borrow enough to pay off your debts. If the underlying business isn't viable then no amount of clever financing can save it. In this case, telling people about the business's problem won't be causing the failure but only hastening it, before the amount of unpayable debt balloons.


At the other extreme, many businesses, probably most, go through liquidity crises. Good, viable businesses don't always generate enough cash to meet ongoing obligations and they need loans to get them through a temporary crunch. If this is the situation, then sowing panic among creditors would harm the company and even the creditors themselves, inducing them to be first in line to obtain partial recompense when with a little patience they could get full repayment.


In general the lenders should be evaluating these risks, not you. So your main question should be: Do I have evidence that the borrower is engaging in fraudulent or misleading practices? If the borrower is giving a false impression of his firm's prospects or of its debt picture, then you will be doing the borrowers a favor by cluing them in. This may possibly trigger a collapse, but that is a consideration each lender can weight for himself.


But if they are just overly hopeful or insufficiently diligent in evaluating the risks of a fundamentally legitimate business, I don't see any reason for you to intervene.

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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.

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