It’s not personal. It’s just business
judges often describe a good settlement as one in which all parties to the agreement are upset. a greater truth to settlements is that at least one party to a settlement feels cheated or shortchanged.
the classic movie the godfather’s most famous line is delivered by the godfather michael corleonoe. actor, mr. al pachino, explains that “it’s not personal, its business.”
while the mafia has its unique own code of ethics, the torah portion of lech lecha offers a different insight into business ethics. abraham, per the direction of god, relocated to the land of canaan. abraham’s presence was as a representative for the master of the universe. abraham’s contacts or agreements with others served not only being a representation of his character but also a representation of faith. abraham’s role was beyond that of a godfather. rather, he was to be a father of nations; a fatherhood came with a legacy of ethical behavior.
lech lecha offers two incidents of this conduct. genesis 13:6-9, goes through a family matter: “and the land did not bear them to dwell together, for their possessions were many, and they could not dwell together. and there was a quarrel between the herdsmen of abram’s cattle and between the herdsmen of lot’s cattle, and the canaanites and the perizzites were then dwelling in the land. and abram said to lot, “please let there be no quarrel between me and between you and between my herdsmen and between your herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. is not all the land before you? please part from me; if [you go] left, I will go right, and if [you go] right, I will go left.” one direction looked better that they other. abraham let lot take the better land.
there was later an incident in which abraham recovered kidnapped individuals. in doing so, there were possessions an captives taken. genesis 14:21 notes that “and the king of Sodom said to Abram, “give me the souls, and the possessions take for yourself.” and abram said to the king of sodom, “i raise my hand to the lord, the most high God, who possesses heaven and earth. neither from a thread to a shoe strap, nor will i take from whatever is yours, that you should not say, ‘i have made abram wealthy.’ exclusive of what the lads ate, and the share of the men who went with me; aner, eshkol, and mamre they shall take their share.”
in both internal family dealings and external affairs, abraham’s understanding of that business dealings are not only personal, they are representative of the master of the universe’s expectation of moral conduct. establishing peace, showing fairness, and establishing one’s reputation for principles are elements abraham brought to the table to become a success.
presently, allegations have been made by some that jewish people are responsible for engaging in contacts which may have been apparently unfair or unjust. the details of these allegations have not been fully disclosed for analysis concerning accuracy. regardless of what any particular individual has done, however, abraham’s conduct, as documented in the torah, established the standard of business ethics that should be taken as representative of the jewish religion.
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