Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 62:18

יח: הרוצה למכר קרקע או בית, ובאו שנים, כל אחד אומר: אני אקח בדמים אלו, ואין אחד מהם בעל המצר, אם היה אחד מהם מיושבי עירו והשני מעיר אחרת, בן עירו קודם. היו שניהם מיושבי עירו ואחד מהם שכנו, שכנו קודם. ואם השני הוא חברו הרגיל עמו ושכנו אינו רגיל עמו כלל, חברו קודם. היה אחד מהם חברו ואחד מהם קרובו, חברו קודם, שנאמר טוב שכן קרוב מאח רחוק. אבל לשאר כל אדם, קרובו קודם, חוץ מתלמיד- חכם שקודם ואפלו לשכנו וחברו הרגיל אצלו. אבל אם היה אחד מהם בעל המצר, הוא קודם לכלם. ואפלו לאחד שמכרו לאחר, יכול בעל המצר לתן את הדמים להלוקח ולסלק אותו. ואפלו לאחר שמכרו לאחר, יכול בעל המצר לתן את הדמים להלוקח ולסלק אותו. ואפלו הלוקח הוא תלמיד- חכם ושכן וקרוב למוכר, והמצרן הוא עם -הארץ ורחוק מן המוכר, המצרן קודם ומסלק את הלוקח. וכל קדימות אלו, מצות חכמים הם, לקים מה שנאמר ועשית הישר והטוב בעיני ה’ – סימן קע”ה ורז”ש

Someone who wants to sell land or a house, and two come [to buy], each one saying: “I will buy it at such a price”, and neither of them is a next-door neighbour [who has right of first refusal (see below)],  if one of them lives in his city, and the second is from a different city, the one from his city has precedence.

If both of them live in his city and one is his neighborhood, his neighbor has precedence.

If the second was a close friend [someone who is frequently at his house], and his neighbor is not at all a friend, his friend has precedence.

If one was his friend and the other his relative, his friend has precedence, as it is said (Prov. 27:63): “a close neighbor is better than a distant brother”. However, with any other people his relative has precedence, apart from a sage who has precedence — even over his neighbor or his friend who is often by him.

However, if one of them is his next-door neighbor, he has precedence over all of them. Even after he has sold to another, the next-door neighbor can give the money to the buyer and evict him. Even if the buyer is a sage, a neighbor and a relative, and the next-door neighbor is an unlearned peasant and socially distant from the seller, the next-door neighbor has precedence and can evict the buyer.

This system of precedences are commandments of the Sages, to carry out what was said (Devarim, 6:18): “And you shal do what is good and honest in G-d’s ‘Eyes’.”


I think there are two factors here. The first is to be fair to the next-door neighbor, who is much impacted by the sale. Aside from having a new neighbor, it also means an opportunity to expand his property.

The second is a matter of giving priority to someone close to you. If I may quote R’ Shimon Shkop (yes, yet again — you should be used to it by now!):

Although at first glance it seems that feelings of love for oneself and feelings of love for others are like competing co-wives [tzaros; the etymology meaning: troubles] one to the other, we have the duty to try to delve into it, to find the means to unite them, since Hashem expects both from us. This means [a person must] explain and accept the truth of the quality of his “I”, for with it the statures of [different] people are differentiated, each according to their level.

The entire “I” of a coarse and lowly person is restricted only to his substance and body. Above him is someone who feels that his “I” is a synthesis of body and soul. And above him is someone who can include in his “I” all of his household and family. Someone who walks according to the way of the Torah, his “I” includes the whole Jewish people, since in truth every Jewish person is only like a limb of the body of the nation of Israel. And there are more levels in this of a person who is whole, who can connect his soul to feel that all of the world and worlds are his “I”, and he himself is only one small limb in all of creation. Then, his self-love helps him love all of the Jewish people and [even] all of creation.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 62:17

יז: וכן מי שאומר לחברו, לתן לו איזה מתנה קטנה, שזה סמך בדעתו שבודאי יתן לו, אם חזר ולא נתן לו, הרי זה ממחסרי אמנה. אבל במתנה מרבה אין בה חסרון אמנה, שהרי זה לא סמך דעתו על זה. ומכל מקום בשעה שהוא אומר לתן לו, צריך להיות בדעת גמורה, ולא יהא בדעתו לשנות, כי לדבר אחד בפה ואחד בלב, אסור מן התורה, שנאמר איפת צדק והין צדק יהיה לכם. מה תלמוד לומר הין צדק, והלא הין בכלל איפה הוא, אלא שיהא הן שלך ולאו שלך צדק. וכל זאת לעשיר. אבל האומר לתן לעני, בין מתנה מעטת בין מתנה מרבה, אינו יכול לחזר בו מן הדין, מפני שנעשה כמו נדר. ואפלו גמר בלבו לתן, צריך לקים מחשבתו – סימן ר”ד רי”ב רמ”ט. וביורה דעהסימן רנ”ח וז”ש

Similarly, one who said to his friend that he would give him some small present, and that one depended on him certainly giving him, if he changed his mind and didn’t give him, he is from among the untrustworthy. However, with respect to a large present it isn’t a lack of trustworthiness, because he [the typical recipient] would not rely on such a statement [to necessarily receive it].

In any event [even where the promise is of something large], at the time he said he would give him, he needs to have finally decided, and not ready to change [his mind]. Because to say one thing aloud and another in his heart is forbidden from the Torah. As it is said (Lev. 19:36): “A just ephah and a just hin you shall have.” What does it come to teach with “a just hןn” ? after all a hןn is [a unit of measure] just like an ephah. Rather, (read it as) your “hein” (“yes” in Aramaic, and therefore plausibly a rare synonym for “yes” – “kein” in other Semitic languages like Hebrew) and your “no” should be just (reliable).  (Baba Metzia 49A)

All the previous applies (only to gifts promised) to a rich person, but whatever one said (one would give) to a poor person, whether a small present or a large present, cannot go back on this by (halachic) law, because it is considered like a vow, and even if he only decided in his heart to give, he must keep what he thought.


With everything we said before about speech, all the more so when you say something someone else came to count on.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 62:16

טז: וראוי לו לאדם לעמד בדבורו, שאפלו לא נתן עדין מעות, ולא רשם את הדבר ולא נגמר הקנין, אם השוו על המחיר, אין לשום אחד מהם לחזור,ומי שהוא חוזר, בין הלוקח ובין המוכר, הרי זה ממחסרי אמנה, ואין רוח חכמים נוחה הימנו, כי ראוי לאיש ישראל לעמד בדבורו, כמו שנאמר שארית ישראל לא יעשו עולה ולא ידברו כזב. וירא שמים יש לו לקים אפלו מחשבת לבו, שאם חשב וגמר בלבו למכר לו בסכום זה, והלה לא ידע ממחשבתו, והוסיף לו על סכום זה, לא יקח ממנו כי אם סכום זה שגמר בלבו, לקים מה שכתוב, ודובר אמת בלבבו. וכן הלוקח שגמר בלבו לקנות בסכום כך וכך, אין לו לחזר בו. וכן כל כיוצא בזה בשאר דברים שבין אדם לחברו, יש לו לקים מחשבות לבו, אם גמר בלבו לעשות איזה טובה ויש בידו לעשותה. אבל צרכי עצמו, כל שאין בהם סרך מצוה, אין צריך לקים אפלו מוצא שפתיו

It is proper for a person to keep his word. So that even if he didn’t yet pay money, and didn’t mark the object, nor completed the transaction, if they have agreed on the price, neither of them should go back. The one who goes back, whether the buyer or the seller, is considered among the untrustworthy, and the sages’ spirits do not rest well about him.

Because it is proper for a Jew to keep his word, as it is said (Zephaniah 3:13): “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies.” One who is aware of G-d’s Significance (yarei Shamayim) should fulfill even what his heart’s thoughts. So, if he thought and decided in his heart to sell him at a particular price, even though the other did not know his thoughts and offered him more than that amount, he should not take from him except the amount that he had decided on. As to carry out what said (Psalms 15:2): “he … speaks truth in his heart.” Similarly, the buyer who decided in his heart to buy for this-and-this amount, he should not go back on this.

Similarly all things concerning other dealings that are between a person and his fellowman, he should carry out the decisions of his heart. Of he decided in his heart to do a favor, and he was able to do it [he ought to]. However, things for himself, as long as they are not desirable for a mitzvah, he does not need to carry out, even what he spoke.


I wrote on Friday about 62:15:

62:13 established that it is evil to break the promise of a deal to chase a better one. 62:14 continues that someone who serves as a proxy to accomplish the deal, so that there is even no deal promised yet, is devious in trying to thwart the one who sent him. [In 15] we see that someone who someone who took some action to initiate the deal — but again, the sale isn’t yet complete — who breaks that deal is formally cursed.

Here we go the final step in the sequence. Speech and even thought matter. Even when nothing at all was done, even where the context is outside of business.

To add a little emphasis…

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִ֣י א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר

And Hashem said, “Let there be Light!” and it was light.

– Bereishis 1:3

The Baal Shem Tov points out that it’s not that Hashem’s speech caused the light to appear. Rather, the speech is light. That which we call “light” is actually Hashem saying “יְהִ֣י א֑וֹר”! (The Besh”t then continues to use this idea to explain continuous creation. Words in a book are written once, and then persist. The spoke word lasts only as long as the speaker is speaking. Thus, Speech as a model for Creation implies that G-d is continually creating the world anew, “Who renews, in His Goodness, daily, continually, the Act of Creation.”)

Speech is the actual substratum of the universe. A davar, a thing, is a dibur, a statement.

To break a promise, even one never articulated, is to pick at the very fabric of Creation.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 62:15

טו: מי שנתן אפילו רק מקצת דמים על המקח או שרשם על המקח סימן בפני המוכר, או שאמר לו המוכר רשם מקחך, אע”פ שהוא בענין שלא קנה בזה, מכל מקום כל החוזר בו, בין הלוקח בין המוכר, לא עשה מעשה ישראל וחיב לקבל מי שפרע, דהינו שאוררין אותו בבית-דין ואומרים, מי שפרע מאנשי דור המבול ומאנשי דור הפלגה ומאנשי סדום ועמורה וממצרים שטבעו בים, הוא יפרע ממי שאינו עומד בדבורו

One who has given even only a little money on a purchase, or has just marked the object in the presence of the seller, or the seller said to him: “Mark your purchase”, even though he has not formally bought this object, in any event any one who goes back on it, whether the buyer or the seller, has not done an act becoming to a Jew, and is obliged to receive a “May He who took payment”. That is, he is cursed in court and they say: “May He who took payment from [ie: punished] the people of the flood, and from the people of disunity [the generation of the Tower of Bavel],  and from the people of Sedom and Amorrah, and from the Egyptians whom He drowned in the sea, He will take payment from one who does not keep his word.


A continuation of the theme we began two days ago.

62:13 established that it is evil to break the promise of a deal to chase a better one. 62:14 continues that someone who serves as a proxy to accomplish the deal, so that there is even no deal promised yet, is devious in trying to thwart the one who sent him. Here we see that someone who someone who took some action to initiate the deal — but again, the sale isn’t yet complete — who breaks that deal is formally cursed.

Notice the text of the curse explicitly ties the concept of Divine Punishment to that of a metaphysical “repayment”.

One’s word must be binding; and as we noted in 62:13, it does not depend on whom that word was given to.

Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 62:14

יד: הנותן מעות לחברו לקנות לו קרקע או מטלטלין, והלך השליח וקנה את החפץ במעותיו בשביל עצמו, הרי זה רמאי. ואם קנאו ממעות של המשלח, מחיב לתנו לו, אע”פ שקנאו לעצמו

One who gives money to a friend to buy for him land or goods [as his agent], and the agent went and bought the object with his own money for himself, this one is deceitful. If he bought it with the money he was given, he is obliged to give him it, even if he [was trying to] buy it for himself.


A continuation of the theme we began yesterday. Committing to a deal is not fiscally binding until the deal is complete, but there is a lack of yosheir (integrity) in breaking one’s word.