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

Yer fired!?

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. I have a good worker but it just doesn't pay me to keep him on. Do I have any obligations to keep him on beyond what it says in the contract?

A. The secular laws on discharging workers vary widely. Many countries, and US states, have "employment at will"; in this regime, an employee can be discharged for any reason or no reason. Conversely, in other countries, and under most collective bargaining agreements, employees can only be discharged for cause.

Discussions on the Jewish law approach often center on the following Talmudic passage:

Runia was a tree planter for [the sage] Ravina. He caused damage [through carelessness in planting], and [Ravina] discharged him. [Runia] came [for a lawsuit] before [the judge] Rava. He said, Look what [Ravina] did to me! [Rava] said to him, he acted properly. [Runia] said, But he didn't give me advance warning! He said, he did not have to warn. Rava acted in this instance in accordance with his doctrine, for Rava said: Teachers, planters, slaughterers, blood-letters and scribes of the city are all considered to be forewarned. The general principle is, any time there is [the potential for] irrevocable loss, [the workers] are considered forewarned. (1)

The passage as it stands raises more questions than it resolves. What exactly was Runia's claim? Why was it rejected? What is special about these professions?

A tree planter would normally be hired, and paid, by the season. At the end of the planting season the contribution of the new trees would be assessed and the planter paid accordingly. However, due to some carelessness on Runia's part, Rava felt that there was an irrevocable loss and he didn't want to risk any further problems. Therefore, he sought to fire Runia in the middle of the season. This has significant adverse consequences because Runia now has to start looking for a new position, and furthermore most hires are at the beginning of the season and in mid-season work is hard to find. That is why Runia sought a legal judgment.

We can see that on the one hand Rava upheld the basic legal principle Runia had resort to. In normal circumstances, a worker may not be fired within the contract period, unless he has shown carelessness and also been warned. If a person makes a mistake at work, the proper course of action is to explain his misdeed and give him a chance to improve. However, certain professions require a very high degree of reliability. Any mistake is likely to involve an irrevocable loss. It is understood that in order to enforce this level, employees can be fired for misconduct even in the middle of the contract period.

Conversely, when the contract period is over there does not seem to be any inherent limitation on discharging a worker for any reason. Based on this passage and others, many observers are of the opinion that Jewish law adopts an "at-will" approach unless the contract or custom stipulates otherwise.( An exception is the great recent authority Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who ruled that workers in general have a right to continued employment unless there is cause or their position is discontinued. (2) )

Jewish law generally recognizes secular law and custom as binding in employment law, so if there is a law, agreement or custom in your area or industry regarding discharging workers it should be observed. But in the absence of any special restrictions, Judaism views workers and employers alike as free actors. Employers are ethically bound to keep their word, so during the contract period workers shouldn't be discharged unless there is a good reason, and unless they are suitable recompensed. But once the contract period is over, employer and employee are alike entitled to reconsider their steps and find a new situation or renegotiate the old one.

In most cases the "contract period" would be the notice period written in the contract. If the agreement stipulates two months notice, then only misconduct could justify letting someone go within that period.

The letter of the law is not necessarily the same as thoughtful and prudent conduct, however. While the contract may say that two months notice is enough, most employers and employees develop mutual expectations of continued employment and of a degree of loyalty. It is usually a good policy, whenever possible, to give feedback to any worker before firing him or her for occasional underperformance, and to give advance notice in accordance with reasonable expectations and not only in accordance with written contracts.

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 109a-b. (2) Responsa Igros Moshe Choshen Misphat I:76, 81

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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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