Bava Batra 86 - 92
- How one's vessels can serve as acquisition for finalizing a transaction
- Transaction involving animals or flax
- Backing out of a purchase because of a change in price
- When oil is sold by a wholesaler or retailer
- When the buyer bears responsibility for breakage
- Keeping weights and scales honest
- The seriousness of dishonest weights and measures
- All about enforcing honesty in sales
- The crime of hoarding grain for profit
- The sin of leaving Eretz Yisrael without justification
- Names of unidentified biblical characters
- Insights on Megillat Ruth
The Problem of the Cheater
"The sin of cheating the public in weights and measures is punished more severely than that of sexual immorality."
This statement by Rabbi Levi is challenged on the grounds that sexual immorality is punishable by karet (extirpation) unless one repents, while financial dishonesty is not punished so severely.
The answer given is that even so serious a sin as sexual immorality can be atoned for by repentance, while there is no opportunity to repent for shortchanging the public, since one cannot readily identify all the victims of his dishonesty.
This seems to run counter, however, to the gemara (Bava Kama 94b), which suggests atonement for such a dishonest seller who cannot identify all of his victims. He is advised to use his ill-gotten gains for a public service such as creating a reservoir so that perhaps his unidentified victims will benefit from them.
The explanation offered by the commentaries is that this is not real repentance, only the best thing that he is capable of doing.
What the Sages Say
"It is forbidden for one to have in his possession a dishonest weight, even if he is only using it for personal use."
- Rabbi Yehuda in the name of the Sage Rav - Bava Batra 89b