E veryone faces ethical challenges and dilemmas in the workplace, especially young people as they transition from the yeshivah and seminary world to a secular workplace environment.

If we identify these challenges for what they are and deal with them expeditiously, honorably, and responsibly, we can grow professionally from the experience and become more virtuous people. Failure to deal promptly and wisely with ethical dilemmas on the job can seriously derail or prematurely end a person’s career, or land him in trouble with the law.

For Orthodox Jews, the workplace presents a unique set of challenges. We must also take halachah into account alongside professional ethics. At times, the two clash. It takes qualified and experienced hands to guide people in the grips of a dilemma to make the wise and correct choice.

Mishpacha assembled a panel discussion at Touro College in New York of prominent community members, who together possess Torah values and a wide range of legal, business, clinical, and academic experience for a frank discussion of today’s most relevant issues.

Mark (Moishe) Bane, president of the Orthodox Union, cofounder and editor of Klal Perspectives, and a senior partner at the international law firm of Ropes and Gray.

Rabbi Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of Touro’s Lander College for Men, professor of philosophy and Jewish philosophy, rav of the Yavneh Minyan of Flatbush. His most recent book is entitled: Judaism Examined: Essays in Jewish Philosophy and Ethics.

Binyamin Tepfer, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist, certified addictions therapist and director of Tepfer and Associates, a private practice.

To observant Jews, the importance of conducting our business and professional activities with honesty and integrity is clear and unequivocal.

From an early age, we are all well trained to differentiate between kosher and nonkosher. We scan labels for the often-inscrutable kashrus symbols, and would never purchase a food item without a reliable hechsher.

Yet many people enter the business world without being well schooled in the fine print of business and professional ethics, or in the halachos pertinent to their professions. The quandaries have grown more complicated in the era of the global workforce, where new technologies and professions often outpace our capacity to set and adhere to the ground rules that should govern them.

I prefaced our panel discussion with an observation from my own experience: Born into the baby-boomer generation, I grew up with an approach that took root even in some Orthodox circles, that one could fulfill the American dream while remaining a fully observant Jew.

That environment prepared us to be balabatishe Yidden. I felt as if we were given the tools to deal with colleagues and coworkers, without being defensive, while standing firm for our principles and values.

The first question I posed to our panelists was whether, perhaps, we are no longer training our youth the way we once did because today’s generation is more yeshivish and geared to remain in the Torah world. And, perhaps, we are taking for granted that they will find work in Orthodox Jewish environments so that the same type of training is no longer necessary. Or are we falling down on the job and leaving our young people ill-equipped to cope with the inevitable challenges certain to confront them?

Moishe Bane I’m not sure I agree that today’s changes are a result of the educational system being more yeshivish or more isolationist than when you were a student. The primary change is in our personal experiences. When you described your own transition, you mentioned that you had chosen to be part of the yeshivah system in your earlier stages of life. That choice reflected a very significant commitment, and that commitment then was able to flow further into your workforce days.

Today, the vast majority of our community’s young people did not choose to be part of the yeshivah system. They were born into it, and into a closed society in which everyone they grew up with was also in that yeshivah system. They are not forced to make any real social choices when growing up. Therefore, when they go into the workforce for the first time, they are confronting these choices for the first time. And that creates a much more challenging environment, not because they had a different training, but because they never before learned how to make real choices. The choices that you faced at age 14 or 16 are now being made by this generation for the first time at age 24 or older. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 680)