Honesty, Secret to a Long Life | Parsha Ki Seitzei
In this lecture Honesty, Secret to a Long Life | Parsha Ki Seitzei we examine the message of honesty. Towards the end of this week’s reading we come across the following commandment (Deut. 25:13-16):
“You shall not have in your pouch alternate weights, larger and smaller. You shall not have in your house alternate measures, a larger and a smaller. You must have completely honest weights and completely honest measures, if you are to endure long on the soil that the Lord your G-d is giving you. For everyone who does those things, everyone who deals dishonestly, is abhorrent to the Lord your G-d“.
It seems surprising that the Torah sets aside a special commandment dealing with fraudulent weights and measures. How is such wrongdoing different from any other fraud or theft? Why could not this commandment have been deduced from “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:13), or from “Do not wrong one another” (Lev. 25:17), or from “Keep far from a false charge” (Ex. 23:7), or from “Do what is right and good” (Deut. 6:18), etc.? Moreover, this commandment appears in Parashat Kedoshim (Lev. 19:36) and is reiterated in this week’s reading, both in a positive formulation and a negative formulation, thus making the sinner guilty of violating both a positive and a negative commandment.
Lest the point not be sufficiently clear, longevity is promised to those who keep this commandment, just as it is promised to those who honor their parents, a commandment included in the Decalogue! All that is required to keep the commandment of honest weights and measures is to make sure that one’s scale and measuring tools function properly, so that purchasers will receive the proper amount in exchange for what they pay the seller. Keeping this commandment requires no great effort; it involves no need to cope with any danger such as might justify so great a reward.