Duping Taylor and Rabbi Mimicking Moskowitz



“From when Adar enters, increase in gladness.” The month of Adar – Purim time – commenced yesterday.

Following this principle…I will hopefully increase yours.


Plagiarism: Right? Wrong? What do you think? Why do I ask you? You will find out.


True story…it’s a typical winter day…the sun reflects brightly off the large mounds of our recent snow heaped high by plows, into what looks like a sidewalk igloo sale. Maybe it’s the lack of leaves outside that gets me yearning for more of them. So I enter my local plant shop…beautiful greens abound everywhere. I purchase a plant just like the ones I have at home…they need no direct sunlight, so I feel this is a secure insurance policy against their withering in not-so-well-lit rooms.


A day or two after I bring it home…and water it…leaves are falling from this quickly dethroned queen of green, more than Hasbro dominoes. I call the plant shop, asking if they have an identical plant as a replacement, as this one appears diseased. They answer, “We do not.” I ask for my money back and they say, “Oh, I am sorry, we have a ‘no return’ policy.” (They did not convince me of how sorry they were) I thought I would try to nurture the plant back. But I was bothered by the injustice. I called a few days later asking to speak to the owner. I asked if his clerk’s policy of ‘no return’ was in fact representative of the store’s policy. He initially said he would not return money, but would replace the plant. I told him that I preferred that too, and continued, “but your clerk said you had no replacement”. I asked him again for my money back. I asked, “If you were sold a watch that was broken, would you feel that store owed you your money?” He hemmed and hawed for 10 minutes until, he finally agreed to return my money, if he had no replacement. I praised him on his honesty. But the goal should not be protection for my own money alone, but for everyone else’s too. I then asked him to amend his policy to accept returns on flawed goods from anyone.


How many times have we experienced this “No Return” policy? Did you ever consider the injustice of this policy? Are policies “unapproachable” laws? Not to me. God’s word is the only unapproachable policy. I did not contact the King of Rational Thought, as he resides on the West Coast, and I reside in New York. It was only 6:30 am his time. How might he consider this?


I thought: what does this mean, “No Return”? To me, this means, in other words, “We are not responsible for selling you damaged goods.” Translation: “we can rob you”. Let’s take another, fictional scenario: the storeowner refuses to return my money. I ask him, “Since you feel your policy is fair, I guess you won’t mind if I write a letter to the local paper for their “Better Business” column, complaining about your store’s unjust practice.” He responds, “No, please don’t send any letters, I will return your money.” He will steal my money, but fears other’s knowing about his cheating practice. In truth, it is his greed for other victims’ cash that he fears negative publicity. So he will steal as long as it is profitable. But if his stealing results in bad press, and business loss, then he must switch his strategy. His only real goal is profit, and he will do anything to be as profitable as possible. He has no morality. He hides behind a “business practice” to sell damaged goods, robbing people blindly.


No one who cares about honesty and other peoples’ money should tolerate a “no return” policy. You should inform the storeowner of the corruption in demanding a customer remain with damaged good, even though he intended to buy perfect goods and was misled. If the storeowner refuses, then tell him you will report him to the press. This probably will not improve his moral code, but it will protect others.


Now for that title above “Plagiarism”. What does it have to do with a “no return” policy? The answer: absolutely nothing. Confused? Don’t be.


Look closely at the authors of this article once more…right now... You probably did not read it carefully at first. As I mentioned, Adar is a time to increase one’s gladness, so I thought a little Purim humor appropriate for this month. As you see, this is not an authentic “Doug Taylor and Rabbi Morton Moskowitz” article! I wrote it, plagiarizing them. Is plagiarizing wrong? Don’t we say that plagiarism is the “highest form of flattery”? Plagiarism is wrong when it causes injury. But without injury, plagiarism is an act of recognition and admiration.


I wish to compliment you both, Doug and Rabbi Moskowitz on your fine book, “Getting it Straight”. Many others and I have truly enjoyed your ideas and writing style. I appreciate your submissions for the JewishTimes, and hope this tribute to your work gives you all a smile. On the topic, I also thank Rabbi Bernard Fox for his many years of continued submissions. May all your efforts in education imbue many more appreciative individuals.


Have a pleasant Shabbos and a happy 2 months of Adar to everyone,


Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim