When is cheating really cheating?


The Rambam states in Hilchot Mechirah (chap. 18:1):
It is forbidden to lie to people in transactions or to steal their opinion, and a gentile and a Jew are equal in this matter. If a person knows that what he is selling is defective, he should inform the purchaser. And even to steal the opinion of others with words is forbidden.  

This story, told to me by my late father and in my book “Pathfinding,” illustrates this: “A very wealthy man in town approached a poor carpenter who had been struggling all his life. He says, ‘I’m going away for a year, and I want you to build me a house. I am going to give you all the money you need to do it right. I want the best of everything that you can get to build the house.’

As the carpenter began building the house he says to himself,  ‘The owner isn’t going to know the difference. Why should I use all this expensive materials when I can put in cheap imitations and pocket the difference?’ So he builds the house as cheaply as he can. 

The rich man comes back and the carpenter gives him the house key. The rich man says to the carpenter, ‘No, here. The key is for you. I wanted to build the house for you, so I am giving you the house as a present.’

The moral of the story is be careful, don’t cheat because you may be cheating yourself.”

Kahlil Gibran wrote, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

PATRICIA RASKIN, M.ED. is an award-winning producer and host of “Patricia Raskin Positive Living” heard Saturdays from 4-6 p.m. on WPRO, AM 630/99.7 FM. She is a recipient of the 2015 RI Small Business Administration Award. She is a board member of Temple Emanu-El.