Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Importance of Integrity

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, zt”l, waged war on those who were careful regarding mitzvos between man and Hashem while disregarding mitzvos between man and his friend. As a matter of fact, he felt that one should work the most on mitzvos that deal with his fellow man.
Not only did he believe that such mitzvos are paramount, he also held that one who is exceedingly careful in these mitzvos can reach the highest spiritual levels. He would bring many proofs to this from chazal and the entire expanse of Torah. “As is well known, Chanoch was a shoe maker. We find that while he would sew his shoes he would say, ‘Boruch shem k’vod malchuso l’olam v’ed,’ over every stitch, since with every act he sanctified himself and the entire world.
“Don’t think this ma’amar refers to some kind of kabbalistic mediation,” Rav Yisrael would explain. “It means quite simply that Chanoch would carefully check that each strip of hide he used was in good condition and that every single stitch was stitched carefully. Through the very act of taking care to be honest in all of one’s dealings in money matters, he declares Hashem’s Kingship and sanctifies himself and the entire world!”
Rav Yisrael would warn the rabbanim of various cities to be alert regarding the level of honesty and integrity in business matters in their communities. “One is required to follow the halachah in money matters just like he must eat kosher food. Everyone understands that it is a rav’s responsibility to ensure that the shochet in his city slaughters properly by checking his chalef for blemishes, since the rav’s job is to ensure that people follow the halachah. Yet many are unaware that a rav is also obligated to walk from store to store in his jurisdiction to check the scales and measuring devices of those under his authority and ensure that they are not violating the prohibition of ona’ah!”

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