Friday, February 3, 2012

Daily Business Ethics Halacha #10

We are learning from Case Studies in Business Ethics by the late Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine z"l professor of economics at Yeshiva University.


"Someone who retracts a verbal commitment is called untrustworthy and a Jewish court will admonish and publicly reprove the offender for this misconduct.  Nevertheless, breaking a promise is permissible in certain circumstances.  Consider the following scenario:

Person A verbally commits himself to confer B with a largess.  Subsequently, A has second thoughts and wishes to retract.  Provided A made his commitment in good faith, his subsequent retraction is not unethical.  Given the consider expense involved, B presumably never relied on the promise and hence A's retraction should not have dashed B's expectations."

My question on this: does that apply to a pledge made to a charitable organization or a shul?  As someone who works for a not for profit, I know that we budget for the future based on pledges made to us by donors.  If they were to retract we would be in serious trouble. 

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