Sanctifying God's Name in Business
By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim
“You shall do no injustice in judgement, in length, in weight, or in capacity. Accurate scales, accurate weights, an accurate dry measure, and an accurate liquid measure, you shall have. I am the Lord your God, who took you out of the land of Egypt.” Leviticus (19, 35-36)
In the above verses, the Torah is essentially instructing us to ensure that we are scrupulously honest in our business transactions. The concluding words “I am the Lord your God, who took you out of the land of Egypt” seem to have nothing to do with the concept of dealing honestly in business. Additionally, the introduction to the prohibition “You shall do no injustice in judgement” is difficult to understand. We are referring to a person involved in a business transaction, not to a judge in a courtroom. Rashi, quoting the Sifra, explains that this teaches us that a person who is dishonest in business “Brings about those five things which are mentioned in connection with the judge who perverts justice: he defiles the land, profanes the Name of the Lord, causes the Shechinah to depart from Israel’s midst, Israel to fall by the sword and to be exiled from their land.” Rashi’s comment also requires further explanation. Why is it that a person who is dishonest in business causes the same consequences as the corrupt judge?
Torah law demands judges be “fearers of God, men of truth and haters of ill-gotten gain.” (Exodus 18,21) Similarly, when it comes to our business dealings, Torah law commands us to be “fearers of God, men of truth and haters of ill-gotten gain”. When we do our business dealings, God asks us to remember that He redeemed us from the land of Egypt. Our redemption from Egypt reminds us that God is in control and that, ultimately, we will not get ahead through dishonest means. Our mission in business is not simply to make a living, but, rather, to be honest and ethical people. When we do so, we purify the land, sanctify God’s name, return the Divine presence and assist in bringing the ultimate redemption. May we merit this redemption soon in our days.