Amongst the large number of mitzvot in this week’s sidra there is a basic rule of business ethics: “You shall not have in your bag different weights, larger and smaller; you shall have completely honest weights and measures” (Deut. 25:13-15).
This rule is a very serious one: people must be able to trust your weighing scales. If you take out different types of weights in order to gain an advantage for yourself, regardless of whether you are a buyer or seller, you are not only dishonest but you do not deserve to be in business.
The law establishes the axiom that sellers and buyers must both use the same objectively correct standards of measurement.
By extension we can learn that any fair and just society is based on balance, with no-one getting more or less than their due share.
It is a principle that applies with uncanny accuracy to the current Israeli debate about allowing and providing for a large segment of society to refrain from going to work whilst sitting interminably in yeshivot and studying.
Make no mistake: I am not attacking either yeshivot or Torah study. But we need balance.
The model should be the two brothers Issachar and Z’vulun, whom we see from Jacob’s blessing of his sons (Gen. 49) as loving partners – Z’vulun the businessman and Issachar the student.
Z’vulun is the symbol of the State and society, thanks to whom Issachar can stay in yeshivah. They each have talents and roles. However, only if Z’vulun provides the wherewithal can Issachar sit and study.
If Z’vulun loses patience with his brother we are all in for trouble.