Project Genesis




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The Jewish Legal System

Business Law

Business Values

What does the Torah tell us about honesty in business dealings? Are there any guiding principles for Jews in honest business dealings?

The Jerusalem Talmud (Bava Metzia 2:5) states it powerfully (what follows is a free translation):

Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach dealt in linen. His students said to him: “Rebbi, desist from this trade. We will buy you a donkey [to make an easier living as a donkey driver] and you will not have to toil so much.” They went and purchased a donkey from a bandit. The students subsequently found a precious stone dangling from it. They went back to Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach and said to him: “From now on you need not exert yourself.” He asked: “How so�” The students responded: “We purchased a donkey for you from a bandit and a precious stone was dangling from it.” Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach asked: ‘Did the donkey’s seller know that the stone was there?” They answered: “No.” He then said to them: “Go return it.” The students remonstrated with Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach: “Although theft from an idolater is prohibited, is one not permitted to keep an object that an idolater has lost?” He responded: “What do you think, that Shimon ben Shetach is a barbarian? More than all the wealth of the world, Shimon ben Shetach desires to hear [the non-Jew say]: “Berich Eloko d’Yehudo’ei” (“Blessed is the God of the Jews”).

Our paramount value must be Kiddush Shem Shomayim (sanctification of God’s name).

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