The Path of the Just
Ch. 11 (Part 3)
We’d want to avoid deceit, too, but that’s not easy either, and most
especially in our professional lives.
“You might reason,” for example, as Ramchal points out, “that it’s only
right … to make a product you’re selling … seem as attractive as
possible”. And so you might speak of it in glowing (i.e., downright
blazing) terms to make it sound enticing. But we’d been enjoined not to
deceive anyone (see Leviticus 25:17 as well as Chullin 94a), and the
prophet swore that "The remnant of Israel will not commit iniquity, will
not speak falsely; (and that) no trickery will be found in their mouths"
As such, we were warned “not to paint-over old wares to make them seem
new”, and to "not mix together different bunches of fruit -- even new
fruit with other new (but still inferior) fruit; even high priced (but
undesirable fruit) with low -- so as to sell the higher priced for less”
(Baba Metziah 60a), to avoid deception.
(Yes but, “how can I not try to point out the value of my product to my
customers?” you might ask. But as Ramchal underscores, “there’s a
difference between pointing out the true value, worth or beauty of a
product -- which is a perfectly honest and honorable action -- and
covering over the product's imperfections, which is deceitful and
therefore forbidden”. In other words, you can sell an item’s selling-
points, to be sure, but not play hide-and-seek with its faults.)
In any event, the “stumbling-blocks on the path to (selling things) are as
numerous as the yearnings for possessions”, so a great deal of “profound
self-reflection is needed to actually free yourself” from falling sway to
your inclinations. Understand, though, that “if you do manage to free
yourself” of the temptation to deceive, Ramchal assures us all, “you’ll
have reached a very great level which many who have attained several of
the many levels of righteousness would not have” since it’s so challenging.
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org