"Ki so'avas Hashem Elokecha kol osei eileh - for anyone who does this is repugnant to Hashem your G-d" (25:16) Rabbiner Shimshon Rephael Hirsch makes a point of commenting on the word "Elokechah - YOUR G-d". The pasuk is saying that such behavior is repugnant to Hashem, to pursue it would be to forfeit the right to call Hashem your G-d. You pursue some other desire as the primary force in your life.
What's interesting is that while "to'eivah" usually is applied to sexual immorality, in this case it isn't.
"Lo yihyeh lichah bikischah even va'aven gedolah ukitanah - you may not have for yourself in your pocket a stone and a stone a large one and a small one" (25:13). Rashi there explains that you may not measure what you take with the large weight, but measure what you sell with a small one.
Halachah prohibits not just using two sets of weights, but even owning them. In Bava Basra 89a, R. Yehudah of Sura makes the uncontested statement that this verse prohibits owning false weights, even if they are not used. This is also the way the mitzvah is codified the Chinuch (mitzvah 222).
This reduces the whole set of questions involving the requirement of doing business honestly with people "outside the tribe" to pure theory.
For example, am I allowed to cheat the IRS (the US tax service)? I am not even allowed to keep two sets of books even if I were not to use them. Even if cheating the government were not a violation of "dina dimalchusa dina - the law of the land is law", I would be in violation of "even va'aven" just to own the tools to cheat in business.
Why isn't even possession permitted?
To use an admittedly graphic example, but one which the word "to'eivah" and the Gemara (ibid 88b) suggest, would you own a copy of homosexual pornography? No, of course not, the concept is inherently nauseating, it is (as the Torah writes) "to'eivah". Similarly, "even va'aven" is a to'eivah.
So, why do we, as a community, shun homosexuals, but ignore dishonesty in business? Sadly, I remember a number of times I chose to do business with non-Jews or non-observant Jews because I felt less likely to be cheated. Where is our disgust and revulsion? If we are to make Hashem's values our own, we too must not only avoid "handling" (cheating) in business, but we must be even nauseated, repulsed by it. So'avas Hashem Elokecha!
We place so much importance on Da'as Torah, Torah-think. We approach Rabbonim for advice because their thought processes are more in line with the Torah's than ours. Here we see the gap. To Hashem, cheating at work is to'eivah, to us - "business as usual".
"Lima'an ya'arichu yamechah al ha'adamah asher Hashem Elokechah nosein lach - so that you may extend your days upon the land which Hashem Elokechah gave you" (ibid 15).
Again, notice the phrase Rabbiner Hirsch stressed before "Hashem Elokechah". Israel was given to people for whom Hashem is their G-d. By not keeping our ledgers kosher, we demonstrate that we are not that people, and we threaten our hold on the land. The news from Israel is disastrous, and gets more so day by day. Perhaps if we resolve to improve on this issue we can stem the tide.
Something to think about this Ellul.© 1995 The AishDas Society