Giving Advice by Michael Winner/9/23/2016 We’re finally going fully legal on all our income. Joy. (I now have to pay 15% of my income to U.S. Social Security, thankfully child credit helps a bit, and around 15% to the Israeli National Insurance, plus all fees that come with it.) That being, I needed to find and hire a U.S. accountant and an Israeli accountant, and after speaking to many, I finally settled on two of them. It’s interesting to see how both accountants work, which clearly reflects how each society views their governments. Every U.S. accountant I spoke with was very straight and not playing around with things. If it wasn’t 100% legal, it cannot be done. When I went to the office of the Israeli accountant, the first thing she said was, “Okay, let’s start off with how much you are REALLY making and work from there.” She then made up a plan, which I can’t go into detail. Technically, it’s legal. Why? Because the government cannot prove otherwise. She figured that it’s best to do that and report everything, so it’s officially legal, compared to simply not reporting everything to the government (which she considers a valid option, but prefers not to take). Basically, the Israeli mentality is, if the government cannot prove that I’m really lying, than it’s legal. Before I get hit with emails about the halachic aspects of not telling the Israeli government my full income, that has been handled by halachic authorities hundreds of years ago. Basically, the halachic basis that a non-Torah observant government in Eretz Yisroel has a right to tax is not so certain, and many halachic authorities agree that one can HIDE his money, but cannot STEAL money from such a government. It's a whole big discussion for another time. Basically, everybody follows this mentality here. When you set a price in a cab, you’re doing so off the books. In many places, when you pay for something big in cash, they give you a 9% discount, so you keep your half of the 17% tax and they keep their half. It’s just interesting to hear it from an accountant. Okay, on to more important things.“Cursed be the one who causes a blind person to stray along the way” (Dvarim 27:18). Rashi explains that this is not only to be taken literally, but also teaches us the importance of not giving bad advice. Once, after Rav Shach visited a certain family in Bnei Brak, he made his way slowly down the stairs of the building. As he was descending, a young man approached and asked the rav a question concerning advice he needed. Seeing that Rav Shach was having a difficult time descending the stairs given his age and health, the young man offered his arm for the rav to hold on to. However, Rav Shach refused to take it and explained, “You have come to ask my advice. If you assist me, I will become biased. I do not wish to be biased when giving advice.” We see how careful, one must be in this area. I know somebody who pushes Americans to make Aliyah, no matter what! He tells them everything they want to hear and pulls on their emotional strings to get them to move. Unfortunately, the statistics of what happens with children who make Aliyah are not the best and are a well-known fact for those currently living here. His advice leads to long-term misery for many children of new immigrants. So while he’s performing the "mitzvah" of encouraging Jews to move to Israel, he’s tripping on the sin of “causing a blind person to stray . . .” Whenever we give advice, we need to take into account our personal biases. If we cannot give clean advice, we shouldn’t give any at all. Have a great Shabbos! Michael Winner P.S. Thank you Mr. G. Murray for the email. It didn’t have a return address, so I couldn’t reply.