Spiritual Goods: Faith Traditions and the Practice of Business
Ronald M. Green
Guiding Principles of Jewish Ethics
This discussion develops six of the most important guiding principles of classical Jewish business ethics and illustrates their application to a complex recent case of product liability. These principles are: (1) the legitimacy of business activity and profit; (2) the divine origin and ordination of wealth (and hence the limits and obligations of human ownership); (3) the preeminent position in decision making given to the protection and preservation (sanctity) of human life; (4) the protection of consumers from commercial harm; (5) the avoidance of fraud and misrepresentation in sales transactions; and (6)
the moral requirement to go beyond the letter of the law. Although these Talmudic principles are clearly obligatory only for "Torah-obedient" Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, many Jews share a sensibility informed by them. Non-Jews, too, may be instructed by Jewish teachings about business ethics.