The Business Breakfast: You Have My Word

Verbal Commitments in Halacha

Integrity has long been one of the hallmarks of the Jewish People. In Torah law, the sanctity of keeping one’s word very often overrides potential monetary gain. Yesterday, we heard from Rabbi Ephraim Friedman of the Chicago Choshen Mishpat Institute about the obligation you can create by your commitment. Rabbi Friedman discussed 3 levels of commitment, with increasing degrees of responsibility:

  • Committing to do a particular deal or transaction with another- are you allowed to back out of the deal, and under what circumstances?

  • Hiring a someone to do a service- can you cancel the job before he has started working? Is there compensation owed for the loss of revenue?

  • Committing to buy a product or service, and the work has been done- what if you no longer need it? What if circumstances arise that are beyond your control?

Practical applications of these categories abound in our everyday interactions, from the business world to babysitters. Listen to the full recording below to learn more.