Recap: Dan, home from college for the summer, lands a job in a small Judaica store. The owner of a nearby kosher restaurant asks Dan for a recommendation as she, too, is looking to hire. Dan suggests a good friend, Mark, who is employed by the restaurant.

After a few weeks, the Judaica store owner lets Dan go because business is down. Frustrated, Dan visits the kosher restaurant to see whether it needs another worker. The proprietress says she can give him hours by taking them from Mark. Should Dan agree, or is he stealing from Mark?

No Backstabbing

You should not take away Mark’s hours. Even though you were the one who helped him get the job, now it belongs to him. You are his friend, although it wouldn’t be right to lessen his job even if you weren’t. You should not do anything that will diminish his hours.

— Zhenia Greszes

How Do You View the World?

You are in a frustrating position, my friend! You were all set with a wonderful job and had your summer plotted out, and suddenly the roof came tumbling down.

Suggesting your friend for the restaurant position was a kind gesture. And now you watch Mark happily head to and from work while you sit twiddling your thumbs.

I believe the resolution boils down to how we view the world. If we humans are placed here randomly, we can do what we want, keeping our own best interests in mind. However, if we believe that we were placed here to achieve a specific mission and that no one else in the world can accomplish what we have the potential to fulfill, we are charged to carefully examine each action so that it conforms to a holy standard.

From my perspective, once Mark starts working in the restaurant, the job belongs to him. It no longer matters that you helped him get the job, except for the gratitude he should feel toward you. And doing something to take what rightfully belongs to another, isn’t that a form of stealing?

Allow me to share a personal example. My son likes to buy lottery tickets. The other day he was so frustrated — his ticket was a mere one digit from the jackpot. Worse, it was my fault: I persuaded him to buy only one.

“If I hadn’t listened to you and bought two, I would be $4,000 richer!” he said.

“No, my son,” I told him gently. “If G-d wanted you to have that money, you would have won with your ticket. That was obviously not your destiny.”

Similarly, we all encountered a striking event recently: the dramatic solar eclipse. Different people had varied reactions. To my amazement, a friend simply shrugged it off.

“I’m not even going outside to watch,” he told me.

Others traveled miles to witness the sight. One friend moved me to tears by reciting psalms that best depicted what he called “the celestial dance,” lauding G-d for the magnificent and complex world He created.

A different scenario, yet the same fundamental premise: Is this a G-d-managed world where every event is a manifestation of His handiwork, or do we have a universe filled with random occurrences?

The resolution to your dilemma is in your hands, Dan. My question: How will you feel next month or next year if you take Mark’s hours? Will you be filled with pride at your accomplishment, or will you feel regret and self-loathing, similar to someone who broke a diet and engaged in binge-eating? The pleasure from a poor decision is ephemeral, while good actions engender lasting satisfaction.

Good luck, Dan. And remember: G-d has many ways to enable a person to earn money. Let your path be one of integrity so that you can square your shoulders and know you have been true to yourself.

— Sam Blank

The Essential Secret in Any Relationship

Many years ago, an older friend told me the cardinal secret to a good marriage: communication. My newly engaged, young, starry-eyed self nodded in agreement. Decades later, I shake my head at my naivete yet still concur with my friend’s assessment, albeit on a much more profound level.

Effective communication is the key to any successful relationship. And what is the foundation of good communication? Trust.

When the person you’re dealing with is someone you can count on, no matter what, you can move forward in the relationship.

So, Dan, how much do you value your relationship with Mark? If he is truly your friend, I advocate sitting down with him over a cup of coffee and having a meaningful conversation. Maybe he won’t mind sharing his hours if you explain the bind you’re in. But to go behind his back will undermine the integrity in your relationship and may cost you a friend. Think about it.

— Jill Shore