Jewish Law and Socially Responsible Corporate Conduct

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2006


Jewish law pervasively impacts corporate conduct, but does so without positing any distinct doctrinal rules pertaining to corporations. Instead, the foci of Jewish law are the individual, on the one hand, and the community as a whole, on the other. By restricting the conduct of individuals - such as those who serve as a corporation's employees, managers, directors and shareholders - Jewish law controls corporate conduct from within. By authorizing and requiring communally imposed regulation, Jewish law controls corporate conduct from without. A thorough exploration of the many Jewish law precepts that apply to commerce would require far more than the space allotted for this paper. Our more modest intentions, therefore, are to survey some of the principal ways in which the rules Jewish law imposes on individuals and communities affect business ethics, generally, and then to examine whether the corporate context presents any unique questions.