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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

Reclaiming what's yours through deception

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. A certain store overcharged me a substantial amount. I don't have enough documentation to prove it. Can I right the wrong by finding a way to take merchandise with the value of their debt?

A. The first route in redressing wrongs should always be to turn directly to the responsible party and make a clear and convincing presentation of your case. Any kind of action, legal or otherwise, should be resorted to only after a good-faith effort to resolve things amicably. Very often people are totally convinced they are right, but once they have a chance to hear the other side they begin to see that their case is not as strong as they had supposed.

So your first step should be to turn to the store and explain your situation. Proving your case is not necessarily the same as being convincing; most merchants will be fair if a customer presents a convincing case even if the case would not necessarily stand up in court.

If this step is unsuccessful, you want to know if you can take the law into your own hands. In secular law, such a step is sometimes known as "self-help"; Jewish law also recognizes the legitimacy of self-help in certain instances, but its application is severely limited.

The Talmudic passage on which the Jewish doctrine of self-help is based reads as follows:


Rav Yehuda said, a person may not do justice on his own. Rav Nachman said, a person may to justice on his own. Where there would be a loss suffered [by going to court], all agree that a person may do justice on his own. The dispute arises where there is no loss. Rav Yehuda said, a person may not do justice on his own, for since there is no loss he must go to court. Rav Nachman states, a person may do justice on his own, because since the right is on his side he is not required to exert himself [to go through the court process]. (1)


However, this permission is subsequently whittled down significantly by the continuation of the passage and by later authorities.

1. Not sneaky: Later in the same passage, we learn that "self-help" should only be resorted to in a public and demonstrative way:


Ben Bag Bag says, Don't enter your neighbor's courtyard to take [even] your own property without permission, lest you appear to him as a thief. (1)


This consideration certainly applies in your instance; taking an object without paying would definitely make you appear as an ordinary shoplifter. Even if you could be sure not to be detected, the store would believe they were stolen from and every instance of theft lowers the amount of trust and honesty in society as a whole.

Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel, one of the most authoritative early authorities, adds three additional reservations: (2)

2. No other resort: Self-help can be employed only when there is no other way of obtaining justice (besides court).

3. A demonstrable court case. Doing justice for yourself is meant to be a "short-cut" for doing justice through the courts. It follows that it is not permitted in a case where a court could not objectively verify the victim's claim. Otherwise this permission would undermine law and order; any person could resort to trickery and assert that it was in order to right some ancient wrong. This condition is not fulfilled in your case, since you acknowledge that you don't have proof of the wrong that would stand up in court.

4. A specific object. The case of self-help is where the victim recovers a specific object that actually belongs to him. If the store stole your chair and put it in the showroom, "self-help" could be justified if the other conditions are fulfilled. But in the case of a monetary debt, it is not permissible to resort to force or fraud in order to recover a debt. Since at this stage the store merely owes you money, self-help is not a relevant avenue.

Jewish law recognizes that there are some instances where a person can just go ahead and right a wrong without resort to courts. If someone steals your car and parks it in their driveway, you can just go into their driveway and drive it back home. But the application of this doctrine is very limited. We don't allow it to become an excuse for breaking law and order whenever anyone is personally convinced that he has been wronged. In your case, the best course of action is to go straight to the store and make the best case you can, at the same time being prepared to listen to any counterclaims the store might want to present to you.


SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud 27b (2) Cited in Beis Yosef commentary on the Tur, Choshen Mishpat 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.

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