Values, Prosperity and the Talmud (Wiley, 2003)
This insightful book offers business advice that has endured for thousands of years. While business fads come and go, the ancient lessons of the Talmud are timeless, profound, ethical, and practical–and they’re for everyone. Values, Prosperity, and the Talmud is a concise guide to this proven philosophy of business. Beyond basic money-related matters, it includes the Talmud’s advice on complex issues of employer/employee relationships, partnerships, competition, and much more. Here, you will learn how to run a successful business, negotiate with style, earn the loyalty of your employees, sell products successfully, advertise effectively, and make higher profits, all within an ethical and moral framework.
Why the emphasis on business?
The Talmud stresses the importance of dealing honestly in business because transacting business, more than any other human activity, tests our moral mettle and reveals our character.
Working, money and commerce offer us some of the best opportunities to do good deeds such as giving charity, providing employment and building prosperity for our communities and the world.
It is through money and commerce that we reveal our human frailties, bigotry, and our ability to deal justly with others during a time in which our natural instinct is to maximize our profits no matter what the consequences. In business transactions we sometimes believe it’s acceptable to cheat, because we think ‘everyone’s doing it,’ or that big companies won’t be injured by our tiny transgressions or we’ll never see a particular person again. In the Talmud, no transaction is tiny and no transgression is trivial.
Seven Talmudic Rules for Business (Scroll down)
The Talmud, says Kahaner, is a “handbook for today’s business world”: a reminder of balance in a workaholic culture, a treatise on personal responsibility and a call to charity in a society that seems driven by greed. In this book, Kahaner mines the ancient wisdom of the Talmud for advice on how to prosper ? but to do so ethically. He begins with discussions of the “spirituality of money,” claiming that wealth can be a positive force if it is used wisely, and then argues that work is a holy act. Other chapters take up various topical issues: treating workers fairly so that they will in turn do their work more productively; being scrupulously honest in business dealings; recognizing that education is a lifelong process; and giving to charity. Kahaner draws on contemporary business examples as well as ancient wisdom to demonstrate that “doing good” and “making good” often go hand in hand. — Publishers Weekly
Help is available from just about everyone. Scan Amazon.com and you can find investment and business guides that purport to tell you how to win big, according to the principles of Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Napoleon, Julius Caesar and probably Br’er Rabbit. You can also invest according to Jesus Christ and, now, take business lessons from ancient rabbis. Here you get the Talmud’s take on employee-employer relationships, partnerships, negotiations and more, all with the aim of turning an ethical profit. — Barron’s
“For too long we’ve separated business from religion and in so doing we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water. Can religion be both relevant and use the accumulated wealth of its wisdom to be of service to business? Yes! There is a gold mine in religion for business. Come savor some of the wonderful nuggets in this book.” — –Martin Rutte Coauthor, Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work
Seven Talmudic Rules for Business
1 – The Golden Rule rules.
While the Talmudic rabbis discussed people’s relationship to God, they were often more interested in the relationship between people — how we treat each other. Here, The Golden Rule, “Love they neighbor as thyself,” is the watchword. When challenged by a heathen scoffer to teach him the Torah in its simplest form, Rabbi Hillel remarked: “Whatever is hateful unto thee, do it not to thy fellow man. This is the whole of Torah. The rest is commentary.”
2 – There is no such thing as absolute ownership.
We are stewards. God owns everything in the universe and we are the caretakers. This responsibility covers the earth itself, other people, animals, money, businesses — everything. We are bound to use these resources and protect them. We are not to waste any resources, natural or manmade, because they are not ours to waste.
3 – We are responsible for any damage that we cause.
The biblical phrase “an eye for an eye” does not have anything to do with punishment for knocking out someone’s eye, and it is not an endorsement of the death penalty. It means that we are responsible for everything that we do. If we break something, we are expected to fix it, replace it, pay for it or otherwise make restitution.
The corollary is that we are also obligated to prevent damage or destroy anything unnecessarily. This means anything done through our action or our inaction. This prohibition not only refers to ‘things’ but to intangibles such as another person’s self-esteem or reputation.
4 – Show compassion for those weaker than ourselves.
This tenet requires that we give charity to those poorer than ourselves. It also means that we should not take advantage of those less fortunate than ourselves in daily business matters. The Jewish Bible says it this way: “Don’t place a stumbling block before the blind.” This also means that you don’t sell a dangerous weapon to a mentally ill person and you don’t sell alcohol to a minor, because they’re not able to handle these items.
5 – We all have free will.
“Everything is foreseen, yet freedom of choice is given.” This fundamental saying from the Talmud seems at cross purposes, but it is not. Although God knows the future, we are all responsible for making our own choices. God may have a plan, but it’s inconsequential and unimportant, in a sense, because we don’t know what it is.
Although we may not be able to control what others do to us, we are fully in charge of our own behavior and actions. Whether we succeed or fail is up to us. Whether we behave properly or improperly is solely our choice.
6 – The law of the land is the law.
The Talmudic rabbis believed that society can force moral behavior upon its citizens. Everyone in the community is obligated to follow the majority’s law. This means we must pay our taxes, abide by court rulings and follow local customs pertaining to business and commerce.
7 – Enough is enough.
The Talmud stresses balance in all aspects of life. Being rich can be wonderful, but too much wealth brings its own burdens. On the extreme opposite side, poverty is one of the worst fates to befall a person. Work is vital, but working too much is bad for you. The rabbis believed that by living a balanced existence, you will enjoy a fulfilled and joyous life.