Monday, May 16, 2011


This week has been an education in ethical considerations in conducting business, any business, really.  As usual, I turn to the teachings in the Torah and by our Rabbis.  The two dilemmas faced this week are both dealt with in the same Torah Portion, Vayikra 19:16 & 36. 

Last December, I purchased a kiln, furniture and a slab roller from my neighbor.   Without doing any real research, in my naivte (at 60 years of age, yet), I took the seller's word that the kiln was relatively new had been used very infrequently.  Now, in all fairness to the seller, he did say the kiln had been his ex-wife's and there is a chance that it was "new" to her, before she left him, and that she had used in "infrequently".  However, when the buttons on the controller stopped working, mid programming, after having fired it myself only four times, I called Skutt to find out the kiln was, in fact, circa 1997, and that it is probable that a new controller would be my best bet if the kiln body itself is still useable.  Vayikra (Leviticus) 19: 36 "Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have", is an admonition to us to be fair with others while doing business.  We are to keep the scales by which we weigh the goods we sell balanced.  We are not to misrepresent the things we sell to others.

This is a nice segway into the second ethical dilemma of the week.  There was a tale told on Facebook by one artist about another artist (a student of the first) of the student "stealing" the techniques of the teacher and selling products as her own work.  This was done as a warning to other artists about mentoring students. My dilemma with reading this tale, was not the issues dealt with in line 36 of Vayikra, although they do bear discussion, but with Vaykra 19:16,  "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor".

Was it my duty, knowing both the student and the teacher to lodge a protest? Against the student? Or a protest against both the student and the teacher?

We are not to tell tales about another person whether true or not.  Telling tales is among the greatest sins of man against man, with making up tales being the most serious charge.  However, because some "truths" are relative, no tales are permitted.  AND, we cannot stand idly by while the others act unjustly against our neighbors.  Hmmm?

I chose to protest that manner in which the teacher presented the injustice to the world.  While I understand how she might have felt ripped off by the student, but that the teacher dealt with the student privately.  The student took the offending pieces off the market.  Why then did the teacher have to tell tales against the student, thereby embarrassing her and shaming her?  Could the story, without naming the student, have been enough of a warning to other artists? 

I'd be happy to hear how others feel about these issues. 

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