In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

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 April 3, 2006 / 5 Nissan, 5766


By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

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Should I turn in a colleague for inappropriate acts?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: My workplace has a "zero tolerance" policy for visits to inappropriate web sites. All employees are supposed to immediate report such behavior to management. Should I go straight to management with such cases?

A: It's a good thing your workplace is sensitive to the damage these immodest websites can do to the worker's own moral fiber, to the offense they can cause to fellow workers, and to the disruption they can cause to performance. However, the policy you describe to fight the phenomenon does not sound like a wise one.

In Jewish law and tradition informing on someone is generally a last resort. The preferred first line of action is to turn directly to the wrongdoer with a gentle reminder. There are two different ethical principles behind this preference.

One reason for starting with the wrongdoer is that this fulfills the Torah commandment of reproof. "Surely reproove your fellow, and don't bear sin towards him." This commandment is not directed towards the protection of any third parties, but rather for the benefit of the wrongdoer himself, to gently remind of the the right way in life.

Furthermore, informing on others is itself a forbidden activity, unless certain conditions are met. The Torah tells us "don't go about as a gossip-monger among your people," meaning we should not spread malicious information. This prohibition is superceded only when the disclosure meets certain conditions, which we have called the "ABCs" of forbidden speech:

Accuracy: we must relate the information accurately, without exaggeration or judgment.

Benefit: the revelation must be the only way to promote some constructive benefit

Certainty: we shouldn't relate hearsay.

Desire: our intention must be to bring about the constructive benefit, not to disparage the wrongdoer.

Equity: the steps the hearer will take to protect himself shouldn't cause immoderate and undeserved harm to the wrongdoer.

In many cases turning directly to the wrongdoer will rectify the problem, so informing would not be the only way to promote the constructive benefit; the benefit condition would thus be violated.

The certainty condition may also be violated. Any internet user knows how easy it is to get accidentally redirected to inappropriate sites, and it may be that the colleague in question never had any intention of entering forbidden web pages.

Depending on the reaction of management, the equity condition is also jeopardized. If disciplinary action is immediately taken against a worker for a one-time infraction, this sounds to me like an excessive reaction. The Talmud tells us that a worker shouldn't be summarily fired for minor mistakes on the job; only for severe and irreparable ones. A commensurability standard should also apply to reprimands.

An immediate reaction could possible be justified if for some reason your company would face immediate damage from inappropriate web visits of employees. (I don't know why this would apply.) In this case, the employer could be justified in taking action. Otherwise, it would seem that the only permissible response would be for them to issue a reminder; but in this case, it is hard to see what you gain by going to management instead of gently reminding your colleague by yourself.

For these reasons, it would seem much more appropriate to allow workers to respond to forbidden behavior by simply giving a gentle reminder to their colleagues.

The claim could be made that workers waive their right to protection by agreeing to the "rat first" policy, but I would be reluctant to sanction the waiving of such a fundamental right without compelling justification.

I would recommend asking those responsible for this policy what the justification is. If it seems that there truly is a clear and present danger to the workplace from employee visits to forbidden sites, and if their reaction to information is balanced, the policy could be justified. A balanced policy means that employees have a chance to defend themselves (insuring that the information acted on is accurate), that they are given the benefit of the doubt, and most importantly that the reaction of the management is commensurate. For example, the first report would involve a reminder, then a reprimand, and so on.

But if the policy dictates a draconian reaction to colleague reports, I personally would avoid policing my colleagues and instead just look the other way. (Actually, I always look the other way when I am confronted by these sites anyway.)

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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