Organizational Integrity: Three Ethical Talmudic Principles That Should Influence Corporate and Personal Decisions


  • Hershey Friedman Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, USA
  • Joshua Krausz Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University, USA



Talmud, Business Ethics, Undeserved Goodwill, Placing a Stumbling Block Before the Blind, Poaching, Deception, Great Recession of 2008


Lord Moulton's maxim that "obedience to the unenforceable is the keystone of ethics" is consistent with the view that society requires more of individuals than simple obedience to the laws that can be enforced. This paper will examine three ethical principles discussed in the Talmud that modern society does not usually consider. One is Lifnei Iver (literally, placing a stumbling block before a blind person; misleading people by giving wrong advice). The second is Geneivat Da'at (literally, stealing of knowledge; resulting in undeserved goodwill), and the third is Ani Ha'mehapech B'chararah (literally, "If a poor person is engaging in the acquisition of a cake") which involves poaching or undercutting such as bidding for a property when another party is in the midst of negotiations. What makes these three cases unusual is that these are situations where traditional Jewish law attempts to extend the boundaries of the law to make people do more than the strict law might require. Organizations that wish to create an ethical culture must broaden the boundaries limiting unethical behavior to include such gray areas.