Above the Bottom Line

$ 23.50

No one can afford to miss these priceless lessons on integrity. Hanoch Teller combed the world for this collection of touching and revealing stories that illuminate God’s aversion to deception, and teach us to rise above expediency. Required reading for anyone who conducts business, runs a household, or comes into contact with money – a lot, or a little. Each story is graced by a halachic ruling by HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, directing how people should have conducted themselves in that situation.




The boss' secretary punched out a number on the intercom and issued a directive for Chet Davis to report immediately to the executive conference room. In a matter of minutes a trembling, quivering, speechless young recruit from the Claims Department was brought back before his officer-in-chief.

"Junior, er... I mean, young man," the Boss began, "I really liked your detective work. You really know how to sense a problem and bring it to the attention of the appropriate authorities right away."

Chet managed a half smile.

"Therefore, I think you are just the man to investigate this matter. After all, it is rather out of the ordinary for a client to return coverage, so maybe there are some details here that require checking. Who knows? Maybe this client is hiding something; perhaps it's all a smokescreen to conceal coverage he has collected illegally."

All the exec veeps present nodded gravely in agreement and muttered similar suspicions. The Boss eyed his board and then fixed his company's greenhorn with a solemn stare. "Junior," he declared, "the Rock is entrusting a major mission to you." He then began to pour forth a dizzying array of insurancese:

"Keep your eye out for individual variable annuity contracts, fiduciary capacity, antedating, indemnities relating to flexible premium payments, and most particularly, master contracts with a noncontributory group."

Chet's hand raced across his pad, struggling to catch each vital phrase.

"Don't forget disclosure to MIB and riders relating to the beneficiary," cut in the high-pitched voice of the Services manager, getting caught up in the torrent of jargon.

"Guaranteed insurability options are often problematic," added the head of Marketing, "not to mention disability premium waivers."

"Double indemnities," cried Sales.

"Deferment clauses," shouted Underwriters.

Chet's face turned chalky and he began hyperventilating. He gave up on note-taking and resorted to nodding wildly in all directions as the board members all competed simultaneously in offering increasingly obscure proof of their expertise.

"Fifth-dividend options..."

"...current conversion..."

"...automatic premium loans..."

"...multiple-line coverage..."

As the crescendo peaked, Chet's jaw dropped low in gaping incredulity. Meanwhile, the bigwigs clutched their stomachs and tried hardest to refrain from laughing.

"Now listen here, Junior," the Boss continued, struggling to regain his composure. "I have selected you for the mission because I know that you are a shrewd, keenly observant, perspicacious, judicious young man. Don't be taken in by any of this guy's honest, goody-goody talk. You better examine everything well before you return with your report."

Still in shock, Chet barely noticed the compliment, but he tried to feign a Sherlock Holmes expression.

"I expect you back next week," the Boss concluded. "We will anxiously await your findings. So Godspeed, and don't be concerned about the expenses. Money's no object when a company man is on an important mission."

The smirk-ridden executives all affirmed the claim and rose to pat the tyro on his back and shake his hand.


This is a collection of stories whose theme is integrity – honesty in speech and action, social relations and business. Coming from the pen of a master story-teller, they will appeal to teenagers as well as grown ups – and, in the process, sensitize the reader to the halachic and ethical obligation to practice the standards of honesty set by the Torah.
Rabbi Teller follows the pattern set in his previously published Courtrooms of the Mind by projecting halachathrough the medium of stories that are sure to make a deep impression upon the reader. To make sure that the image is properly understood, this volume carries a halachic foreword by Rabbi Pam, Rosh Yeshiva of Mesifta Torah Vodaas and brief piskei halacha by Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, clarifying the halachic issues raised by each story. Truly a most enjoyable way of learning!
Reviewed in The Jewish Observer

Words of Praise

“Once again the master story ‘Teller’ treats us to an engaging and compelling volume of inspiration. Hanoch Teller’s Above the Bottom Line breathes fresh insights into an ancient Jewish precept. The true test of honesty is when it appears to be a ‘poor policy.’ Moreover, honesty is not a mere ‘policy’ but an over-riding ethical imperative; the sine qua non of a genuine Torah personality.”

Rabbi Moshe Chait, Rosh Hayeshiva,
Yisrael Meir Hacohen baal Chafetz Chaim zt”l, Jerusalem

“In this marvelous work, Hanoch Teller soars to new heights in his singular mastery of the art of storytelling. In his hands, two dozen stories, illustrating the ethical glory of Torah luminaries as well as the glistening moral triumphs of ordinary Jews, becomes not only a vehicle of powerful inspiration but also a an engaging challenge to meet head on the Torah’s demands in the sphere of business ethics.The piskei halacha from Harav Hagaon Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and the halachic foreword by Harav Hagaon Rabbi Avraham Pam deftly blend a practical component into Hanoch Teller’s sparkling world of literary creativity.”

Rabbi Aaron Levine
Rabbi, Young Israel of Avenue J
Chairman, Department of Economics, Yeshiva University
Author of Free Enterprise and Jewish Law and Economics and Jewish Law

“I was deeply impressed by your latest manuscript. I pray that your readers do not get the feeling that the standards set forth so beautifully in Above the Bottom Line are to be expected only of exceptional tzaddikim, when in fact they are the norm demanded of every believing Jew.”


Rabbi Yisrael Belsky
Rosh Yeshiva, Mesivta Torah Vodaas
Rabbinical Advisor, JEP
Halachic Consultant, Kashrus Div., Orthodox Union


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