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Jewish Business Ethics
There is a problem with Jewish people working in banking. Find out what it is by playing this quiz.

Jewish Business Ethics

This quiz, Jewish Business Ethics, looks at the world of commerce.

Contrary to what many may think, Jewish law and Jewish ethics have a lot to say about the world of business. It demands that Jewish people pay careful attention to, for example, weights and measures, no overcharging, no verbal deception, no false packaging, and much more.

1.
In the Talmud (the Jewish book of Law), what is robbing a person of even a penny comparable to?
Attending a wedding or bar-mitzvah without bringing or giving a gift
Claiming his or her food for their own Sabbath
Taking his or her life
Letting his or her children go hungry
The Torah (Scroll of the Law from the Old Testament) instructs Jews not to steal or deal dishonestly. A man, Rabbi Yohanan who lived around 240AD, said, that when a person robs his fellow, even to the value of a mere ‘perutah’ (a penny), it is just as if he had taken his life away from him, as it is said, 'So are the ways of everyone that is greedy of gain, which takes away the life of the owners thereof' (Proverbs 1:19)
2.
There is a problem with Jewish people working in banking. Is it that ....
a Jewish person is not permitted to charge another Jew interest?
hundreds of years ago, Jews were only allowed to do business with other Jews?
Jewish laws refer only to deals done in Israeli currency?
now that some banks open on a Saturday, this infringes the Jewish Sabbath day of rest?
While a very observant Orthodox Jew would frown upon hearing of a fellow Jew working on a Saturday, The Torah and Talmud (the Jewish Laws developed from the Old Testament and the Five Books of Moses) encourages the granting of loans providing they do not involve the charging of interest. The charging of interest is classed in the Book of Ezekiel as being among the worst sins. However, the Jewish law regarding free loans apply only to loans made to other Jews. Although nevertheless frowned upon, it is permissible to make loans with interest to non-Jewish people
3.
To what do the rabbis (teachers, religious leaders) relate the biblical phrase about "placing a stumbling block before the blind"?
Caring for the physically handicapped
Contributing to another person's transgression
Being considerate with our possessions
Taking advantage of others to our own later advantage
This is a complex and typically metaphorical and profound interpretation of a biblical phrase. While Jews are renown for taking good care of the handicapped, this particular metaphor, while ‘raising the profile’ of the need for care of the handicapped, this refers to any person or group that is unaware, unsuspecting, ignorant, or ‘morally blind’, and as such, other Jewish individuals are strictly prohibited from taking advantage of them or tempting them to do wrong
4.
Jewish law has much to say about the world of business, and there are eight (some say there are only six) basic principles of Jewish business ethics offering guidance to Jews. Which one of the following is not a Jewish ethic?
"You shall not falsify measures of length, weight, or capacity”
“Thou shalt not steal”
"When you sell anything to your neighbour or buy anything from your neighbour, you shall not deceive one another"
"The law of the land is the law and you shall not transgress by avoiding tax"
This is not a Jewish ethic but is one of the Ten Commandments
5.
Which of the following does Philo of Alexandria, the Greco-Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, during the Roman Empire classify under the commandment (one of the ten) "do not covet"?
Gluttony
Hunger for honour
Greed for money
All of these
Philo generalised “Do not covet” as including all of them (and more) to include greed for money, hunger to be honoured (the OBE-chasing of its day!), sexual lust, hedonism and gluttony. It was through this that he highlighted the emotional side of greedy desires and the importance of spiritual work
6.
Jewish Law is made up of many hundreds of 'Mitzvot' (commandments) on how Jewish people should have a wholesome, honest and fruitful life. Of these Mitzvot ....
none are associated with money
12 are specifically dedicated to money
25 are specifically dedicated to money
over 100 are specifically dedicated to money
It is noted in the Torah (the Scroll of the Law of the Old Testament), that there are over 100 commandments concerning the Kosher (fitness) state of one's money. There are, in fact, many more laws than those that concern the Kosher state of food. The seriousness with which business ethics are treated is demonstrated by the widely quoted biblical tradition of being judged for the 'next world'. The first question you will be asked is, "Were you honest during your time in business?"
7.
The Jewish business ethic of not "stealing a person's mind" in modern-day business refers to ....
false packaging or labelling
stealing someone else's invention and taking it as your own
encouraging the customer to purchase something they don't actually need
blaming the customer for a defect you know was already there
In biblical times, this was referred to as not to "paint animals or utensils in order to improve their appearance or cover up their defects" or "sifting the beans at the top of the bushel because it is “deceiving the eye” by making the customer think that the entire bushel has been sifted". The modern day version would be placing a designer label on a very inferior shirt in an attempt to pass it off as a designer shirt
8.
The insight suggesting that Jewish people are disproportionally more successful in business than non-Jewish people is ....
totally untrue
somewhat of an Urban myth
true
an insight perpetuated through jealousy by those who have themselves been less successful in business
While Jewish people seem to be more successful, this is more so because of their ‘lack of numbers’ in relation to their success rate amongst their own communities – the Jewish population of the world numbers less than 0.2%, some 13,854,800 people out of a world population of 7.154 billion. It is recognised that Jewish parents sacrifice a lot personally for their children, educational achievement is valued extremely highly and taken very seriously, and members of Jewish communities help each other out with no expectancy of return. However, Europeans of Chinese, Indian and Asian extraction are seen to be equally as successful as Jewish business people. Similar to the economic migrants from Eastern Europe today, the Jewish migrants 100 or more years ago were attracted by the prospect of an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, and during the intervening decades, converted this hard work ethic from working for others to working for themselves with equal vigour
9.
According to an adage written in the Ethics of Jewish Fathers, part of the traditional Oral Jewish Law, who is wealthy?
One who always has elegant food for high Holy Days
One who knows what the future holds
One who is happy with his lot
One who has the respect of the community
The traditional Oral Jewish Law teaches that wealth derives from happiness and it is not the other way around. Furthermore, this portion of the Oral Jewish Law leads to the interpretation that if you can’t be happy with what you have, then further material possessions will not necessarily increase your level of happiness
10.
Jewish business owners, according to the Torah (Old Testament), should ....
provide their employees with dignified and meaningful work
ensure their employees are fully-trained
provide a space for prayer for their employees regardless of their religion
because all men are created equal, should not have to address their employer as ‘sir’
The Bible places ethical duties on all employers, which has translated into the modern Jewish workplace as valuing all employees regardless of how menial the task they are paid to carry out may be. According to the Torah, "he must be equal to you in food and drink. You should not eat refined bread and he eat coarse bread, you drink old wine and he drink new wine, you sleep on a mattress and he on straw". Furthermore, the Torah states “his (interpreted in today’s society as the employee’s) family has to be provided and his master is not permitted to make him perform debasing tasks”

 

Author:  Ed Moss

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