Weights and Measures
By Rabbi Daniel Travis
"And Avraham listened to Efron and he weighed the amount of silver that
he had promised Efron in front of the people of Cheth, giving him currency
accepted by every merchant." (Bereshith 23:16)
Avraham demonstrated his superior level of integrity in the way he paid
Efron. He weighed out the money generously, and gave Efron coins that were
accepted by any merchant. In that way he made sure that there would be no
question of cheating Efron on the agreed price.
Our Sages go to great lengths to describe the severity of maintaining
correct scales. They compare weighing produce to carrying out a judicial
ruling. One who is careful to render a correct decision in a beith din is
considered to have strengthened one of the foundations of the world. The
same applies to someone who maintains accurate scales (1). On the other
hand, someone who ignores this responsibility causes a desecration of
God’s name and deserves to be banished from the land (2). All those who
associate with him are susceptible to suffering a similar fate (3).
A town once suffered from lack of rain. Despite fasting and prayers, the
drought continued. One night the Rav of the town dreamt that a certain
member of the community who was a simple store owner should pray for rain
for the people of the town. At first the Rav ignored the dream, but when
it continued to reappear the Rav approached the individual and asked him
to pray for the community. At first the storeowner refused, but the Rav
was very adamant and soon he consented. He brought his scales to the shul
and made the following bold statement: “If I cheated someone even once, I
should be burned alive. If not, the drought should cease.” Shortly after
he concluded his prayers, the rain began (4).
1. Sha’arei Teshuvah 3,87.
2. Sifra Kedoshim 8,5.
3. ibid. 9.10.
4. Me’am Lo’ez, Devarim.
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org