Q. Religion is based on faith and business ethics on good faith. What is the difference?
In good faith you deal with people and situations uprightly, with honesty and integrity. People know they can rely on someone of good faith. Such a person does not try to cheat others or to manipulate situations but acts justly and honourably at all times. The Talmud tells us that one of the six questions addressed to a person who seeks entry to the next world will be, “Were your business dealings honourable – nasata v’natata b’emunah?” (Shab. 31a).
In theory there is a difference between the two Hebrew terms: faith is emunah and good faith is amanah. But as the passage from the Talmud shows us, good faith is also called emunah. When you act with good faith your word is your bond. Even though sometimes you have not actually broken the law even though you may have skirted close to it, good faith means that you value and uphold a moral obligation and would not dream of being what the commentators call naval bir’shut HaTorah, “a knave with the sanction of the law” (Nachmanides on Lev. 19:2).
It is said that the destruction of the Temple came about because there were no people of good faith at that time (Shab. 119b). This is evidence that even though an outside enemy may be guilty of aggression and terrorism, a nation’s resistance is strengthened if there is internal unity and trust. The person of good faith lives by the rule, “You shall do that which is right and good in the eyes of God” (Deut. 6:18).