Leviticus on How to Make and Distribute Profit
Date of this version
Business ethics, corporate social responsibility, management development, norms
Purpose – Leviticus is an important source of moral reflection in Western culture. This paper applies passages from Leviticus 19 and its Rabbinic and medieval commentaries to modern day management education and practice. The objective is to explore Leviticus 19’s concern with the economic, moral, and spiritual dimensions of how to make and allocate profit. We highlight the implications of this distinction for management education through the use of cases and classic essays.
Design/methodology/approach – The analysis applies two passages from Leviticus 19 and their later commentaries: (1) Leviticus 19:9-10, on leaving the gleanings of one’s harvest (e.g., the modern equivalent of profit) for the poor, and (2) Leviticus 19:14, on not placing a stumbling block before the blind (e.g., the modern equivalent of the financially illiterate and morally blind). Our analysis extends these texts to the social and economic circumstances of modern day business.
Originality/value – The paper extends the interpretation of Leviticus 19 and its commentaries to how modern day profits should be made and distributed to the disadvantaged members of society. These concerns address the social responsibilities of managers and the education of future business leaders who will prudently examine their professional obligations.
Findings - Leviticus 19’s moral vision understands profit making and distribution in relation to the poor and other stakeholders. In addition, our interpretation of Leviticus 19 within the Jewish tradition provides a richer moral rationale than instrumentalism can give for taking prudent steps to protect both investors and the disadvantaged members of society.
Society and Business Review