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 Jan. 18, 2010 / 3 Shevat 5770

Helping the Jobless

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. I have an employee who is quitting to look for a better job. In my jurisdiction I only have to pay severance pay if the worker is fired. Should I perhaps pay anyway to go "beyond the letter of the law"?

A. Your question regarding how to help your erstwhile employee raises two important issues of Jewish ethics, so I will divide the answer into two columns.

In this column, I want to clarify the very important concept "beyond the letter of the law". This concept is a very basic principle of Jewish ethics. It is fair to say that acting "beyond the letter of the law" is in fact part of the law. The Torah tells us (Exodus 18:20):

And you shall advise them regarding the laws and the instructions, and inform them of the way they should go and the deed they should perform.

The Talmud learns that the phrase "the deed they should perform", coming after the laws, the instructions, and the way, tells us that we should go beyond the letter of the law. It then continues:

Rebbe Yochanan stated, Jerusalem was only destroyed because they judged according to the law of the Torah. [The students objected] Should then they have judged according to the laws of the sorcerers?! Rather, they insisted narrowly on the strict Torah law, and didn't go beyond the letter of the law. (1)

So your desire to go "beyond the letter of the law" is certainly praiseworthy.

However, going beyond the letter of the law does not refer to any good or charitable deed. It refers to a particular character of ethical act: acting according to the spirit of the law even when we would be exempt from action according to the strict letter of the law. If we look at the many Talmudic cases of the principle of "beyond the letter of the law", we find that in almost all cases they involve fulfilling an obligation despite some kind of legal technicality or loophole that creates a legal exemption.

Letter from JWR publisher

For example, in the above passage explains that Rebbe Yishmael beRebbe Yossi took on himself the responsibility for helping a workmen load a stack of firewood even though he was exempt. But the exemption was really a kind of technicality: Rebbe Yishmael was a distinguished and dignified figure who was exempt from concerning himself with firewood, even though an ordinary person would have been obligated. So this great sage went beyond the letter of the law and declined to take advantage of the exemption.

In the case of severance pay, this could be relevant in a number of cases. For example, some kinds of quitting are really de facto firings. Sometimes the law recognizes this in the form of "constructive dismissal". If circumstances made continued work unbearable for this worker so that he was compelled to quit, then treating him as if he had been fired would be considered "beyond the letter of the law".

But if the worker decided totally on his own free will to quit work, there is no technicality involved. So there is no issue here of "beyond the letter of the law". If you decide to help this person, it would be considered a kind of charity. An unemployed person is generally needy, and certainly it is a wonderful good deed to help a needy person with charity. Next week we will consider if the severance pay is the best way to provide aid to this needy person.

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 30b

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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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