Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Law Can Change Your Life

There are certain laws we all have to follow - such as paying taxes - that will not necessarily make us better people. However, there are other laws - when properly understood and implemented - that can change our lives. One of those laws is expressed in the Talmud (Bava Metzia 58b), which unfortunately is known by few and practiced by even fewer. It states:

"One is not allowed to ask a storekeeper the price of an item if he knows he will not purchase it."

I put the last part in bold to emphasize the point of this law. While there is nothing wrong with comparison shopping, there is everything wrong with stealing someone's time. In addition, we cannot falsely raise a person's hopes (in this particular case, those of a storekeeper or an employee working at a store). Keeping these two approaches in mind, there are many different ways to apply this law in everyday life. Here is a video that sums it up very well:

As mentioned in the video, beholding to the spirit of this law keeps a person ethical and honest. But above everything else, it builds character in an individual as well as goodwill between individuals. In a world filled with people who are unethical and dishonest, we need this law to be observed now more than ever. Contrary to those who like to rationalize that the ends always justify the means, our Sages teach us that the means matter significantly. Whether we are dealing with a clerk at a gas station or someone in our personal lives, we must always remember that they are human beings created in the image of God who deserve the same kind of courtesy we desire for ourselves.


  1. I have viewed your clipping and I was amazed.

    This lesson is SO BRILLIANT and yet so simple to do.

    Your blog is a beacon of light in a "hazy" World.

    A true Kiddush Hashem.

  2. Thank you very much for the kind words, but a lot of credit for this post has to go to Dennis Prager. I was actually an intern for his nationally syndicated radio show a few years ago.