from aish.com by Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz
Many have a mistaken idea of what is within the scope of Jewish tradition. People know that lighting Chanukah candles, observance of Shabbat, laws of Kashrut, etc., are the purview of rabbis. But many have an attitude that “If I don’t tell the rabbi how to run his business, the rabbi shouldn’t tell me how to run mine.” Very often, we live fragmented, dichotomized lives where what we do in the office from 9-to-5 (or if you’re a workaholic, from 8-to-7) is our own private affair, and then at home we observe the holidays and rituals of Judaism.
The Talmud discusses the questions people are asked by God after their deaths. The very first question we are held accountable for — even before issues of religious practice — is “Nasata V’netata Be’emunah,” which means “did you conduct your business affairs ethically?”
Ritual behavior and social behavior are all part of the same religious structure.
Throughout the Torah, there is constant juxtaposition between ritual commands and the ethical obligations of one human being to another. One verse may say, “Don’t worship idols,” followed by, “Do not cheat, do not misrepresent, do not engage in fraud” (Leviticus 19). Dichotomy between ritual behavior and social behavior is foreign to Judaism, because they are all part of the same God-given morality, the same religious structure.
Business ethics is the arena where the ethereal transcendent teachings of holiness and spirituality most directly confront the often grubby business of making money, of being engaged in the rat race that often comprises the marketplace. It is the acid test of whether religion is truly relevant, or religion is simply relegated to an isolated sphere of human activity. It is business ethics, one could posit, above all, that shows how God co-exists in the world, rather than God and godliness being separate and apart.