Driving Hard Bargains
QUESTION 66: DRIVING HARD BARGAINS
The Talmud (Kedushin 26a) says that when Rav Idi bar Avin
bought land, he reserved the right to 'close the sale' either
with money or a contract. Rashi explains that this condition
allowed him, but not the seller, to retract after money - but
not the contract - changed hands. Let's say a person follows
this model, and always negotiates in a way to reserve all the
options for himself, leaving none of the options for the other
party, even if the other party agrees. If one acts this way, could
there be a problem, in midos (character traits), lifnin meshursa
hadin (doing more than required), chilul Hashem, fairness, or
emunah (trust) in parnassah (one's livelihood)? Or is it perfectly
OK on all levels to drive as hard a bargain as one can?
It's absolutely the wrong thing for someone to operate in
this way all the time. This is an isolated case where R' Idi
bar Avin acted this way, because of particular circumstances.
But if a person always tries to get the best only for himself,
and always drives a hard bargain for this purpose, it has a
terrible effect, especially on his own personality. If a
person is already a bad person, he will be come an even more
horrible person -- someone who everyone else will just run
away from and regard with disgust. Secondly, the person has
a lack of emunah (trust). A person is supposed to try to live
and let live. The best kind of deal is when two people want
to drink afterwards and say a l'chaim to each other because
they're both happy.
Run away from these kinds of people.
At the Agudah Honesty Conference, someone told a story that
in Bnai Brak there was only one printing shop, and another
person wanted to set up another printing shop nearby. The
original printer went to the Chazon Ish, who told him, "Give
him all your contacts. Show him how all your techniques.
Hesek gevul (infringing on another's territory) is not an
issue here. Be overly generous. There will be more than
enough business for both of you." That was his psak (ruling).
However, is that the din (law)?
No, that's not the din. That's for somebody who received a
blessing from the Chazon Ish, because the Chazon Ish asked
him to do it. The merit of the Chazon Ish would bring lots
and lots of business - and furthermore, he must have held
this person in high esteem if he asked him to do such a
If a person only follows his self-interest, it can be one
of the most destructive things for him. I see this all the
time. The healthiest people and the happiest people are the
ones who are always generous and giving. The people who are
always taking are the ones who suffer through life and are
never happy. They are human leeches, always trying to extract
things from other people, and in the process they destroy
their own character, their children, and their family.
They become obnoxious.
It is important to be a person who is generous, who looks
out for other people's benefit, who is happy when
someone else makes a dollar. If someone gets the better
of you, don't lose any sleep over it. Just laugh. You may
have lost something tangible, but the other person,
unfortunately, has lost part of his neshomah (soul). Let
him get away with it, because the five dollars is not
important. I always pray that G-d should give the other person
a pure spirit.
NEXT WEEK'S 67: CONTRIBUTING A CAR TO CHARITY
I want to contribute my old car to a charity, and the
charity says that they will write me a receipt - for tax
deduction purposes - for the full 'book value' of the car.
There are some major things wrong with the car, that makes
its actual value less. Is there a problem in using this
receipt on my taxes?
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