22-5770 Mitzvah N-84
Negative Mitzvah 84 – This is a negative commandment: Do not have in your possession any short (or defective) measure.
Hafetz Hayim – As Scripture says: “You shall not have in your bag two kinds of stone weight … two kinds of measures, great and small” (Deut. 25:13-14). even if he does no weighing or measuring with them.
This applies everywhere and always, for both men and women.
This Mitzvah seems so simple that the Hafetz Hayim does not even bother to explain it. If we stop to think about it, there really is no good reason to have in our possession a set of weights and measures that are not true and accurate. It does not really matter if we plan to use them or not, or if we actually desire to use them or not. Just having them in our place of business, in our truck or car, in the place where we conduct our affairs, is still a sin and the consequences of having them could be terrible.
I think that there are two reasons for this prohibition. First if we own them we might be tempted to use them. After all, we have a customer that is always trying to squeeze a harder bargain with us and it would be easier to just give him the price per pound he wants and then use our bogus set of weights to get the money we deserve. Of course there is the small problem that if we start down that road, we will find that we begin to think all of our customers are stingy and cheap and we are entitled to the extra money from the false weights. And then, it is only a small step to think that if our customers are so stupid that they can’t figure out that the weights are false, then they deserve to be cheated. Therefore, it is important that the only weights we should have in our possession are weights and measures that are correct and true. The temptation of greed can only be overcome if we put away all possibility of corruption.
The other reason we should only have correct weights and measures is because just having false weights in our shop could become evidence of our criminal intent. Why would we have false weights if we were not planning to use them or had used them in the past? They testify by their presence that we are up to no good and therefore we are not to be trusted. Once word gets out that we have in our business a set of false weights we will be shunned by the public and our reputation will be ruined. Maybe we think that just owning them but never using them will not hurt us, but we see that, even if they have never been used, they will still ruin us and our livelihood.