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Developing a Religiously Grounded Business Ethics: A Jewish Perspective

Moses L. Pava
Business Ethics Quarterly
Vol. 8, No. 1 (Jan., 1998), pp. 65-83
DOI: 10.2307/3857522
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3857522
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Developing a Religiously Grounded Business Ethics: A Jewish Perspective
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Abstract

The specific purpose of this introductory paper is to explicitly introduce readers to some of the important Biblical, Talmudic, and post-Talmudic texts which deal with business ethics. As the discussion will show, Judaism's traditional texts treat an amazing variety of issues emphasizing responsibilities in the business context. These texts are both legalistic and aspirational in character. The theme of this study is that an authentic Jewish business ethics needs to grow out of an understanding of the needs of modern, complex economies but need not accept the status quo as binding. Jewish business ethics texts provide rules of behavior, but more importantly, the texts reveal a vision encouraging us to incorporate the highest human and spiritual ideals into the common world of business. The second section of the paper emphasizes that in order to develop Jewish business ethics, especially (but not exclusively) at the level of the organization, models of aspiration will of necessity play an integral role. A Jewish business ethics which conceptualizes Judaism as merely a set of legal rules is bound to failure. A key conclusion of this section is that Jewish business ethics needs to continue to self-consciously promote models of aspirations, as well as rely on fixed legal norms. Finally, the third section of the paper examines a specific corporate policy (no smoking) in light of a Jewish business ethics.

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