Dishonesty in financial dealings is a double abomination

This week's Parsha shows how the anti-Semitic mind works - the Jews took our money and became rich on it.

Danny Ginsbourg, | updated: 07:43

Judaism Sheep
Our parsha relates the beginning of the enslavement of Bnei Israel, by the Egyptians:

(1:8-11)’A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know of Yosef; he said to his people: Behold these people, Bnei Israel, they are more numerous than us ועצום ממנו:and stronger than us, the event of war, they may join with our enemies, so, let us afflict them with burden’- and so commenced the enslavement of Bnei Israel.

The Beit Halevi, however, expounds the words ועצום ממנו, not as ‘stronger than us’, but as ‘mighty from us’: the Egyptians claimed that the wealth Bnei Israel had accumulated, ‘came from them’; was stolen or taken from them by dishonest means; and, as the immoral Bnei Israel had no loyalty to the country, they would likely join the enemy, in the event of war.

Even the righteous Patriarchs, the Avot, were not immune from this libel: Avimelech said to Isaac, Yitzchak Avinu: (Toldot 26:16)’Go away from us כי עצמת ממנו: for you have become mightier than us’.

The Midrash (Breishit Rabbah) homiletically expounds כי עצמת ממנו, not as ‘you have become mightier than us’, but as: ‘you have become mighty from us’:Expounding: ‘Does not all your wealth come from us? You only had one sheep, and now you have a whole flock!’

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch gives lie to these libels, noting that honesty in financial matters is a cardinal tenet of the Torah, to the extent that those who are dishonest in financial dealings are called (Ki Tetze 25:16)’An abomination in the eyes of Hashem, your G-d’.

He adds: ‘Not only the dishonest act, but also the perpetrator, who merited to have Hashem as his G-d, is an abomination in the eyes of his G-d, if he calls himself ‘a Jew’, and is not scrupulously honest in his financial dealings..that dishonest person is not entitled to call Hashem’:‘his G-d’, as he himself is an abomination in the eyes of Hashem’!

May we always fulfill the injunction (Beshalach 15:26) לעשות הישר בעיני ה׳:to ‘do that which is just in Hashem’s eyes’, as we will then merit the wondrous ‘reward’’ derived by our sages, from this pasuk. They expound (Mechilta Beshalach) that ’do that which is just in Hashem’s eyes’, means acting honestly in our financial dealings; and those who do so, are deemed to have observed all of the Torah’!