The Talmud, the compilation of Jewish oral law, is over 1500 years old and includes extensive discussions of business ethics. This paper presents four levels of ethical behavior in business gleaned from the words of the Talmud. At the lowest level, an individual is just barely inside the law; the highest level is the way of the pious. The author has attempted to relate the ethics in ancient business situations to business practices today.
Abraham’s “leadership by example” provides a template for business leaders to implement a tone at the top based on a balance of tzedek (righteousness) and mishpat (legal judgement). The former expresses the generosity of spirit required of leaders, while the latter expresses the sound judgement in conformity with both ethics and enacted law. We relate the two constructs to several contemporary theories of justice and jurisprudence. We also relate the development of Abrahamic Justice in the Jewish tradition from antiquity through (...) Maimonides in the middle ages. We draw insight from this tradition to answer a contemporary business ethics question: Do corporate managers violate their fiduciary duty to shareholders if they refuse to engage in legal tax avoidance? (shrink)
A core value of Judaism is leading an ethical life. The Talmud, an authoritative source on Jewish law and tradition, has a number of discussions that deal with honesty in business and decision-making. One motive that can cause individuals to be unscrupulous is the presence of a conflict of interest. This paper will define, discuss, and review five Talmudic concepts relevant to conflict of interest. They are (1) Nogea B’Davar (being an interested party), (2) V’hiyitem N’keyim (behaving to ensure that (...) one is above suspicion) (3) Lifnei Iver (placing a stumbling block before the blind), (4) Shokhad (accepting a bribe), and (5) Geneivat Da’at (deception and undeserved goodwill). Case examples will be used to apply these Talmudic principles to contemporary business practice. This will include discussion of these Talmudic concepts as it applies to specific contemporary business examples relevant to the boardroom, accounting firms, investment banking, politics, and government. It may be impossible to eliminate all conflicts of interest. However, knowledge and awareness of these Talmudic principles can help individuals in business settings better address the ethical issues that they confront. (shrink)
The contention of this paper is that the marketing concept is but one aspect of a philosophy of business referred to by the authors as the framework for organizational success. This framework maintains that the marketing concept must work together with good management approaches and with ethical business practices in order to satisfy the needs and wants of the various publics of the organization — customers, employees, suppliers, society — and, in the long run, ensure the satisfaction of the needs (...) of the organization itself. The authors propose that focusing on one concept, and ignoring the other two aspects, is not likely to promote organizational success. (shrink)
In this paper, we show that God is portrayed in the Hebrew Bible and in the Rabbinic literature—some of the very Hebrew texts that have influenced the three major world religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—as One who can be argued with and even changes his mind. Contrary to fundamentalist positions, in the Hebrew Bible and other Jewish texts God is omniscient but enjoys good, playful argumentation, broadening the possibilities for reasoning and reasonability. Arguing with God has also had a (...) profound influence upon Jewish humor, demonstrating that humans can joke with God. More specifically, we find in Jewish literature that humor’s capacity to bisociate between different domains of human experience can share a symbiotic relationship with argumentation’s emphasis on producing multiple, contested perspectives. Overall, once mortals realize that figures such as God can accept many perspectives through humor, teasing, arguing, criticism, and in at least one case, even lawsuits, a critical point emerges: citizens should learn to live, laugh, and reason with others with whom they disagree. (shrink)
Most Americans believe that higher education is heading in the wrong direction. In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the eponymous heroine’s tumble into a rabbit hole immerses her in a bizarre, surreal, disorienting universe. Has higher education fallen down the rabbit hole? This paper will examine the many ways that academe has become a peculiar, illogical, and topsy-turvy world where things are often the opposite of what we call them and of what we expect them to be. To restore (...) the credibility of our education system and make it of value to most students, it must be completely reimagined and, in fact, totally rebuilt from the ground up. (shrink)