Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
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Jewish Values and Fair Trade
Jewish teaching emphasizes that all human beings are made in the image of God and that we have an obligation to protect our earth

Jewish teaching emphasizes that all human beings are made in the image of God and that we have an obligation to protect our earth. As Jews we learn that the highest level of tzedakah is for a person to assist those in need to become self-sufficient (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah 10:7-14).  A commitment by our community to ensure that our consumer habits do not hinder economic advancement for others around the globe is one aspect of what this means.

Judaism places strong emphasis on the rights of workers. “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of your land.  You must pay him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets, for he is needy and sets his life on it; else he will cry to God against you and you will incur guilt”  (Deuteronomy 21:12-15). “In disputes between employees and workers, the rights of the worker were given preference over those of the employer” (Baba Metzia 77a). In purchasing and drinking coffee and other foods, we should keep in mind the others who have labored in the production of these goods.

"Do not let him slip down until he falls completely, for then it will be difficult to raise him; rather strengthen him as he begins to fall. To what is this comparable? To a burden upon a donkey: while it is still on the donkey, one person can hold it and set it in place; if it falls to the earth, even five people cannot set it back" (Rashi).

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