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When Hiring an Employee For a Vacancy, Must One Hire a Jew?

Rav Eliezer Cohen

 

Question: A company has a number of open positions. They have received many resumés from job seekers, and have the ability to choose which employees they want to hire. Do they have to give priority to Jewish applicants or are they allowed to hire whomever they want?  

 

Answer: It is stated in Yoreh Deah, Hilchos Tzedakah, that the highest form of charity is providing a Jew with a source of livelihood. It is thus clear that from the tzedakah angle, hiring Jewish workers is the right thing to do.

We actually see this from a verse in Torah that states, “Vehichzakta bo,” ‘And you shall support him.’ The Chofetz Chaim says that one should do this again and again. Even if one already is employing many Jewish workers, he should still hire more if he has more job openings. He should do so even if the Jewish worker would demand a slightly higher salary than a non-Jew.

There are situations where it is more difficult for the employer to deal with a Jewish worker as versus a non-Jew. Perhaps the Jewish individual under consideration is harder to deal with or does not listen to instructions as well as the non-Jewish alternative. Although this wouldn’t be enough of a reason to fire him if he were already employed, the employer may not want to hire him if he feels the non-Jew is a better choice. In such an instance, the employer may have a dispensation from the mitzvah to hire a Jew. 

The Erech Shai discusses a case where one has a property for sale, and he feels that he could get more than the market value for it. He has a potential Jewish buyer who is willing to pay market value, but has also been approached by a non-Jew who is willing to pay a higher price, which he feels the property is really worth. The Erech Shai rules that although there usually is a mitzvah to sell to a Jew, in this case it would be permitted to sell to the non-Jew for the higher price.  

The same ruling would apply here. If he feels that the non-Jew would be a better fit for the job and would be a better employee, the employer has the right to hire him over the Jew. However, if he is able to hold off until he finds a suitable Jewish employee, it would be worth his while, as he will be able to fulfill the highest form of charity by giving a job to a Jew.

 

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This month’s shiur has been sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Avigdor Fried, in memory of שלמה בן אביגדור משה ז”ל, מלכה בת משה ע”ה, יצחק יעקב בן אליהו ז”ל, רבקה בת גבריאל חיים ע”ה

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