Shabbat Ki Teytzey

Candles - Friday, August 24th @ 7:21pm
Havdalah - August 25th @ 8:14pm

“You must not have in your pocket different weights, larger or smaller. And you must not have different measures in your home. But you should have honest and true measures and weights so that you will have a long life on this earth that God gives you.” (Deut. 25:13)

It refers to business dealings. One is forbidden to deceive either through false or deceptive weights and measures, stealing a bit here and measuring out less there, not being honest. Yes it was referring to primitive ways of measuring goods at work and when one sells or exchanges from home. And it is expanded by the rabbis to cover most forms of deception or dishonesty in business transactions, in buying or selling. It can equally apply to a barman not pouring out the right amount for a drink or watering the alcohol down.

Together with honoring your parents and respecting nature, this is one of the three laws in the Torah that specifically mention long life. And it is a fundamental principle of life in general, that just as human life needs families to take care of each other, so society needs trade and bartering to survive. And you cannot have reliable, trustworthy trade if the traders are dishonest and set out to swindle their victims.

People often say the Torah is far too concerned with petty rituals and unimportant laws. But here is another example of the Torah’s concern for fundamental principles of human interaction, to ensure that society in general can function effectively.