Weekly Chasidic Story #779 (s5773-08 / 13 Mar-Cheshvan 5773)
The CEO Who Cared
CBS News featured a special report which reviewed his altruistic decision
Connection: Weekly Reading--exactly opposite to the business practices in Sodom.
The CEO Who Cared
The seventy-year old Torah-observant Jewish businessman, received international acclaim for preserving the jobs of his employees. In an age of corporate downsizing, he not only preserved their jobs; he kept his 1400 (!) employees on the payroll for several months until the factory reopened. In addition, he continued their health benefits. A number of years later, CBS News had a special report which reviewed his altruistic decision, and it stated:
"He kept his promises. Workers picked up their checks for
months. In all, he paid out $25 million and became known as the "Mensch
of Malden Mills" - a businessman who seemed to care more about his workers
than about his net worth.
"'I got a lot of publicity. And I don't think that speaks well for our times,' says Feuerstein. 'At the time in America of the greatest prosperity, the god of money has taken over to an extreme.'
"For guidance he turns to the Torah, the book of Jewish law.
"'You are not permitted to oppress the working man, because he's poor and he's needy, amongst your brethren and amongst the non-Jew in your community,' says Feuerstein, who spent $300 million of the insurance money and then borrowed $100 million more to build a new plant that is both environmentally friendly and worker friendly. And it's a union shop that never had a strike, thanks to the Feuerstein family stance towards their workers. ('The Mensch of Malden Mills,' CBS News, July 6, 2003)
[A religious Jew, Feuerstein went on to explain that the ideals of his religious
heritage had played the major role in his decision, quoting the famous first
century Talmudic scholar Hillel twice:
In September, 1996, Columbia University honored Aaron Feuerstein with its 1996 Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics. An attending Jewish dignitary gave the following report:
"A graduate of Yeshiva University, Mr. Feuerstein closed poignantly on a religious note. In business, he said, he merely carries out the dictates of his daily prayers. Each morning as he recites the opening line of the Shema Yisrael prayer (which he did on the spot), he affirms the singular unity of God: the God he worships in the synagogue is the same God who inhabits his home and who presides over his business. One God alone informs all that he does."
Aaron Feuerstein demonstrated that he did not live a schizophrenic existence where one part of his life is guided by the principles of capitalism and another part of his life is guided by the principles of the Torah. He developed a unified self through allowing the principles of the Torah to guide "all" of his life.
Have a Unifying Shabbos,
Connection: Weekly Reading-exactly opposite to the business
practices in Sodom.
To receive the Story by e-mail every Wednesday--sign up here!
A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.
back to Top back
to this year's Story Index Stories
home page Stories Archives