In this week’s Parsha we learn about Halachos of using accurate weights. This is a basic Halacha to ensure fairness and honesty in commerce. But the Klei Yakar derives a fascinating lesson from the way the Torah words the Pasuk, which is applicable to many other facets of life.
The Pasuk says : You shalt not have in your bag diverse weights, a great and a small. You shalt not have in your house diverse measures, a great and a small. A complete and just weight shalt you have; a perfect and just measure shall you have; that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God gives you. For all that do such things, even all that act evilly, are an abomination unto the LORD your God.
Usually the Pasuk is understood as forbidding a smaller weight that the storekeeper uses to short sell his clients, and the extra-large weight he purchases from his suppliers to cheat them into giving him more than the actual weight. And therefore there are two prohibitions here.
But the Klei Yakar points out there seems to be a problem in the Pasuk. Why in Pasuk 15 does it say that your weight should be “complete and just”. That is repetitious. If “complete” is in contrast to a small measure which is lacking; then what is in contrast to the “great measure” which is too large? And if the explanation is as the usual understanding, saying a “perfect measure” would be enough repair both issues?
Therefore he explains that the Pasuk is actually referring to a storekeeper who has two weights, one smaller than usual and the other one which is actually accurate. But he is being chastised and punished also for the correct weight. Why is that? Since this storekeeper realizes that if he is constantly shortchanging his customers they will begin to go to court. And the first few times he will be able to possibly wiggle free of the charges. But after a while the Bais Din will catch on and realize what he is doing. Therefore the storekeeper does not always use the smaller weight to sell. He also has a correct weight. And he uses the correct weight a certain percentage of the time in order that if he is accused of cheating he can bring all the customers who got the correct amount to testify to his honesty and calim the others are an aberration.
Therefore his correct weight is actually part of his nefarious plan to cheat. And even though technically it is a correct weight the only reason he has it is in order to facilitate his cheating. So there are not two false weights only one of the two, a small false one and a correct one. But even though the weight is correct it is not just. Its purpose is to camouflage the cheating. So therefore the storekeeper needs rectify both weights, the small one needs to be made complete, and the correct one even though it is the right weight needs to be transformed to be used for justice, not as camouflage for cheating.
This idea that what on the surface seems to be honest is only camouflaging evil can be seen in a number of other manners. The Msharal explains a similar idea in the famous incident of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza that caused the destruction of Jerusalem and the Churban . Kamtza was invited to the feast by accident even though he was the enemy. Bar Kamtza was the inviters friend and he was not invited. So what did Bar Kamtza do that his name is mentioned as a cause of the Churban? Explains the Maharal that in those times when baseless hatred and enmity was rampant, even one’s friends were not for a positive loving purpose. The friends were only allies in your wars with others. So Bar Kamtza was actually the enemy of my enemy rather than a friend. So since the inviter would never have started a feud with Kamtza without the backing of Bar Kamtza, the Churban is also the fault of Bar Kamtza. Once again we find that a good and beautiful concept of friendship can be misused for evil.
The same way we can also apply this to our own Avodas HaShem. We can sometimes find ourselves doing something correct or even Tzadik-like not because we want to, but because we calculate that if we do something so good, HaShem will be Okay with us, and then we can do other things even though they are not so correct. The Mitzvoth themselves can serve as a cover up for things that we are doing that are not correct. “Look HaShem. I am so good about XXX that you can overlook YYY.” In that situation the Mitzvah itself needs to be made not just correct but also just.
We can continue this idea in the following way. The Klei Yakar explains a Midrash that connects the prohibition against false weights to the next Pesukim which are about the Mitzvah of destroying Amalek. But based on what we just said I would like to present another possible explanation, different than the Klei Yakar.
We learn that Eisav asks his father Yitzchok questions in Halacha. Those questions were not because he cared, but in order to fool his father . The Torah he learnt was only to facilitate his Aveiros. The Midrash even says the name Eisav is made up of the word “Shav” which means false. Eisav’s entire existence was false, even his supposed Torah. He is also compared to the pig , who extends his single sign of Kashrus, and says “Look I am Kosher.” This is the use of something seemingly good to camouflage evil. This is Eisav. In fact in certain Seforim we learn that the Galus of Eisav will be that they claim to be the correct and real descendants of Yitzchok and that the Torah is theirs.
Amalek is the epitome of Eisav. To battle him we need to be honest and real in our Avodas HaShem and then we can overcome the Eisav and Amalek.