Sunday, February 5, 2012

Daily Business Ethics Halacha #11

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

Another scenario where retracting a promise is not considered unethical:

If A were to promise B a certain item as a gift for B's birthday in the future, but before the birthday arrives the price of the item rises sharply and A retracts. 

The Talmud brings a similar involving a sales transaction.  Buyer B and Seller S commit themselves to a sales transaction but before the transaction reaches the point where either B makes a deposit, or the point where the parties would become otherwise legally bound, the price sharply rises and S wishes to retract. 
Talmudic authorities dispute whether S's retraction is considered unethical. 
Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (Belarus, 1829-1908) in his authoritative work Aruch Hashulchan rules that S would not be considered untrustworthy in such a case.
Presumably he would rule the same in our birthday case.