Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The Best Policy

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

…Perhaps it was an oversight on their part. (Bereshith 43:12)

When Yaakov saw that the money his sons had paid for food in Egypt was in their packs, he felt it might have been left there accidentally by the Egyptian workers. Although he knew his sons had not stolen the money, and technically he was not obligated to return it, Yaakov insisted that they do so, for it did not belong to him.1 Therefore he instructed them to carry the money in their hands, in order to publicize their honesty, and sanctify God’s name through their action.2

Shimon ben Shetach once purchased a donkey. The original owner had neglected to check the saddlebag before he made the sale, and inadvertently left diamonds in the bag. When they discovered the treasure, Shimon ben Shetach’s students were exuberant, for now, they were certain, their teacher would be able to teach Torah without the constant financial worries that had been plaguing him. Shimon ben Shetach did not join in their excitement though. “Do you think I am a barbarian?” he exclaimed “I bought a donkey, not diamonds!” He promptly returned the diamonds. When the owner received them he cried out, “Blessed is the God of Shimon ben Shetach!”3

A number of years ago, Rav Moshe Meiselman, one of Jerusalem’s prominent Roshei Yeshivah, visited his doctor for a routine checkup that cost sixty dollars. At the time, sixty dollars was the equivalent of 60,000 Israeli shekels. Because of a bookkeeping error, the insurance company reimbursed him with 60,000 dollars instead of the sixty dollars they owed him. Without a second thought, Rav Meiselman sent the money back to the insurance company. As far as he was concerned, there is no doubt that one cannot benefit from someone else’s money.

Technically, in both of the above examples it would have been permissible to keep the money.4 Yet great halachic figures testify that many people they have seen who kept money acquired in such a manner later suffered financial ruin. On the other hand, those who returned money that fell into their hands because of an oversight not only sanctified God’s name in a glorious fashion, but later prospered greatly through other means.5

Footnotes:

1 Rashi on Bereshith 43:12.
2 Brisker Rav.
3 Yerushalmi Bava Metzia 2:5.
4 Rema, Choshen Mishpat 348:5.
5 As described by the Be’er HaGolah in his commentary on Choshen Mishpat 348:5, and the Sefer Chasidim (1074).


Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

Raising Children: The Secret of Success
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

Send The Guinea Pig!
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

Three Philosophies at Bavel
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Understanding the Faith of Noach
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Never Underestimate the Power of Prayer
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

The Hidden Blessing
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Hide the Shame
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Building Towers - For What?
- 5774

Dissections and Connections
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

> The World is a Symphony
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Noach
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

Unity and Conformity
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

ArtScroll

Why We Keep Sinning
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

New Beginnings
Shlomo Katz - 5762

In a Heartbeat
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

The Perfect Storm
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information