Do Not Covet and Desire1 Part 3
Thus far, we have seen how it is forbidden to pressure one's fellow Jew into
selling, renting or giving him an item. However, not every attempt to
acquire a possession that is not for sale violates the prohibition of loh
One is permitted to ask the owner, if he would consider selling the item.
This is because asking the owner if he is interested in such a fashion is
not considered pressuring him. However, if the owner refuses, he is not
permitted to continue asking him to sell the item. Statements such as,
'please reconsider', 'we need it so badly' and so on, in such a setting, are
If the owner showed no interest in selling, is one allowed to come back to
him with a bigger offer? There is a difference of opinion amongst the
authorities on this issue. There are those that say this is permitted.
This is because the prohibition of loh tachmod involves embarrassing or
pressuring the owner to sell the item when he has no desire to do so.
However, many items are not for sale at a certain price, but were the owner
to be offered a higher price, then the item would be for sale at that price.
Therefore, the owner is not selling the item at this price because he is
pressured, rather because he genuinely desires to sell it at this price.
Other authorities are stricter in this question - Rabbi Yosef Shalom
Elyashiv shlita rules that it is forbidden to return to the owner with a
bigger offer once he has refused the first offer. However, if the owner had
given some indication that he would consider selling the item at a higher
price, or some change in the owner's situation indicates that he would
reconsider, he may be approached again.
One is permitted to try to demonstrate to the owner why it is in his best
interest to sell, provided that it would genuinely be in the owner's best
interest. A distinguished person may not ask someone for an item even once,
if he feels it is possible that the owner will feel pressured to refuse his
1. Much of the information for this essay is taken from "Halachos of Other
People's Money" by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner.
2. He is widely regarded as the greatest halachic authority in this generation.