In this issue
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 Nov. 14, 2005 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

Surreptitious speaker phone

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

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Do I need the caller's permission to put a call on the speakerphone?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. Do I need the caller's permission to put a call on the speakerphone? Sometimes I want others in the office to hear, or I need the speakerphone in order to have freedom of movement yet others are present.

A. This is a classic "opt in, opt out" question: Is it my responsibility to avoid broadcasting the call unless the caller "opts in" to have the message heard? Or is it the caller's responsibility to "opt out" and specify that the call is private?

The answer of Jewish tradition is clear: in matters relating to privacy and modesty, we need to adopt an "opt in" policy: you shouldn't allow others to hear the call without informing the caller.

The Talmud states: When someone mentions something to a friend, the rule is "Don't tell" until he tells you, "Tell." We learn this principle from G-d Himself, Who carefully specified to Moshe which prophecies should be transmitted to the people and which ones were intended for only Moshe to hear.

Even if the subject of the conversation seems perfectly harmless and something that the caller wouldn't seem to mind others hearing, we should respect his or her privacy. First of all, even if something is quite harmless a person might want out of modesty or embarrassment to keep it private. Just as important, a person might have very good reasons to fear that publicizing the conversation could work to his detriment.

Another important thing to remember is that a private conversation is not merely an exchange of information. It is a way of creating and strengthening personal contact. For this reason the Talmud tells us that we should avoid intruding on the privacy of a married couple even when we are sure they are not discussing "intimate" matters. True intimacy between husband and wife means openness and communication even in matters that are quite mundane, and the same holds true to a lesser extent among friends and colleagues.

Even if the caller knows that the speakerphone is on, if he or she starts to talk about something private, you should make a delicate reminder that others are present.

Jewish tradition teaches us to carefully respect the privacy of others and the intimacy of personal communications. In this way people are enabled to develop their selves and their friendships far from the spotlight of scrutiny.

SOURCES: Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 4b, Eiruvin 63b. "Chafetz Chaim" I:1 note 14

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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. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


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© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics