17 Iyar 5783 – 8 mei 2023
וְכִֽי־תִמְכְּר֤וּ מִמְכָּר֙ לַעֲמִיתֶ֔ךָ א֥וֹ קָנֹ֖ה מִיַּ֣ד עֲמִיתֶ֑ךָ אַל־תּוֹנ֖וּ אִ֥ישׁ אֶת־אָחִֽיו׃
As you have been taught *,you must not cheat in business dealings, whether with Jews or with non-Jews.Thus, when you sell something to your fellow Jew or buy something from your fellow Jew, you must not cheat one another. On the contrary, you must assist your fellow Jew by trying to buy from him and sell to him whenever possible.
* Leviticus 19:35-37 discusses the correct way to act when doing business with people. That the Torah repeats it here wants us to realise its importance. Unfair trade is easy to justify in our minds. In Leviticus 19, trade is discussed in normal circumstances. Here it specifically talks about the Jubilee year, when the situation is slightly different from normal. Since the land purchased must be given back in that year, the temptation may be greater than normal to do dishonest business. In particular, Leviticus talks about using “measures” that are just slightly different. To the buyer, it all seems to go very fair, while the seller knows he is acting improperly with premeditation.
The prohibition against using wrong sizes applies to both Jews and non-Jews as is written in Sefer HaChinuch 258 So if you sell a litre it has to be a litre, if you sell a kilo it has to be a kilo and so on. But the rule does apply within reason because measures also have their limitations..
What applies to using correct measurements in business also applies to using correct measurements in other things.
For example: If you sell someone a “story”, the story must be correct. You should not want to tamper with the measure of honesty of the story. The temptation can sometimes be to dramatise the story a bit or reduce its importance.
In spiritual matters too, we need to get our measures right. For example, if you decide for yourself to give 5 euros to Tzedakah (Charity) every day, you should do so, and not be tempted by all kinds of motives not to do so for once. Or if you have taken a certain measure for yourself in how you want to dress, don’t adjust it because others ask you to.
An example of myself: I have taken on myself that I only want to eat kosher meat. Not because I have to as a Noahide, but because I am extra sensitive to the law of Eiver Min haChai , not to eat any part of a living animal and because I want to be sure that the animal has been slaughtered in an animal-friendly manner so that the prohibition – Tza’ar ba’alei chayim – on inflicting unnecessary suffering and pain is not violated.
When I am at home this is not so difficult, but what if you are on holiday. The temptation is then very strong to order a piece of chicken or steak for that one time when you go out for dinner. Still, I opt for vegetarian or fish then. Because sizes shouldn’t adjust you, even if the circumstances are different from normal.
By Angelique Sijbolts
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