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The Canadian Jeiwsh News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Focusing on people

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It has been an honour and privilege for the past 10 years to have penned a monthly column on Jewish business ethics. I want to thank the editor of The CJN for giving me this opportunity. I have gained tremendously by writing the columns, and I hope I have given you, the reader, food for thought.

“Money matters” from the perspective of Jewish law is sadly an area to which little effort or energy is devoted, and those who address these issues are few and far between. As money is the major focus of our waking hours – from work, to shopping, investing, planning and more – it is to be expected that it is the area that has more mitzvot connected to it than any other in the Torah.

Over the years, I have tried to address a wide variety of issues, often trying to bring a Jewish perspective to topics that were contemporary and relevant. We have touched upon labour relations, taxation, competition, technology, government spending, contracts, liability and much more. We have discussed how new economic realities have had an impact on many a business in our community – something that all who read The CJN are keenly aware of.

Many have lamented what the potential loss of The CJN means for the community – and I fully concur that our community is so much better served with an independent and strong CJN and join with many others in hoping it will be saved. Yet, as sad as the loss for the community might be, this actually pales in comparison to the real suffering faced by those who face job losses – many after years of service – with bleak job prospects.

A newspaper, or any other business for that matter, can be replaced, and it is the very rare business that can survive into even the third generation. That is something our tradition realizes and accepts as part of the competitive and constantly changing marketplace.

The focus of rabbinic discussion is not the impact on an abstract business but rather the people involved. And while companies must do their utmost to help laid-off workers, fundamentally companies have the right, and sometimes even the obligation, to terminate workers. 

Helping displaced workers is something that falls on the community at large. If the communal outcry does save The CJN, we have done a big service, first and foremost for the affected employees, and secondly for the community at large.

Over the past few years, with the great encouragement of the editor, I have addressed what is by far the most serious issue facing our community, the complete lack of affordability of a day school education for all but the very wealthy. Solutions do exist – if you want it is no dream. Whether or not I will have the privilege to continue to write for a wide audience, I will continue in my efforts to permanently solve this crisis. Please join me in doing so. I can be reached at rabbijay@torahinmotion.org.

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