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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 Oct. 6, 2005 / 3 Tishrei, 5766

What the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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New Year: Time for Spiritual Accounting


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Usually this column is devoted on taking messages from the world of Jewish tradition and applying them to the world of economic life. This new year I want to go in the opposite direction, and see what the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal.


I can point to ancient precedents for this application. For example, the Zohar exhorts us to be accountants, mari dechushbana, and make a periodic accounting of our acts. Like accountants, we should make an ongoing accounting of our "credits and debits", our good and bad deeds. But accountants go beyond making ongoing ledger entries; once a year they "close the books", making a final accounting and summary of the year's activity.


Likewise, with the new year, we should all make a careful evaluation of our deeds during the year 5765, and at what spiritual level they leave us.


Another business practice universal among serious firms is the formulation of an annual budget. A person, like a business, has limited resources; our energy and attention may be great but they are not inexhaustible. Each of us can benefit from a clear definition of our "business objectives", what we are trying to achieve personally in the coming year, and from translating these objectives into a more detailed plan of how we could use our energies more productively.


Although virtually every firm makes an annual budget, there are two different approaches. Many firms build each year's budget on the basis of the previous year's; the old budget is the benchmark, but modifications are made for changing circumstances. But every so often there is a need to build the budget from the ground up, to re-evaluate each expenditure item and completely reorient the business.


This too is a useful metaphor for our annual process of taking stock of the past and applying its lessons to the future during the High Holy Days. It's only natural that we can't reinvent ourselves each year, and so typically our resolutions involve token adjustments to the autopilot: perhaps to do more to control our anger, perhaps to devote a bit more time to helping others, and so on.


But every so often it's desirable to rebuild our future from the ground up — to reflect on what we really want to achieve with our lives and how we should go about pursuing our goals. This doesn't necessarily imply a revolution in our way of life; businesses and government which re-budget seldom completely transform their practices. Most of us have good reasons for our habits and way of life, and a thorough examination wouldn't cause any disruptive changes.


But such an examination is still of immense value. A few people will decide that they have reached a critical juncture and need a thorough renewal of their way of life. Most of us will conclude that on the whole our conduct conforms to our values, but that there are still significant aspects of our lives which need reevaluation and change. We may discover that much of our conduct is never really subject to careful scrutiny, and plenty of our precious resources are squandered in activities of questionable value.


Even if we decide to continue just as we were, we will do so with renewed energy and motivation, armed with the awareness that our daily routine is not imposed on us by others or by habit, but rather is the outcome of a process of conscious choice.


Let's make this the year we get ourselves off of ethical autopilot and take control of our lives, trying to make sure that every expenditure really conforms with our goals and values.


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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.


Previously:

Are religious leaders subject to criticism?
Vindictive Vendor: How can I punish an abusive competitor?
Blogging Ethics: Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?







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