Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Av 5766 - August 9, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family


David Perlovitz looked through his account books and sighed. His business was obviously not thriving. He added up the figures again, and then once more. The results were always the same. It was hardly worth keeping "Perlspaper" afloat. His paper goods were not selling as well as they should. Then David had a brainwave. He opened the door to the small packaging plant, after his two employees had gone home, and began to fiddle with the machines. Soon he had 'adapted' the machine to package 90 items instead of the 100 claimed to be in each packet. He reasoned that nobody actually counts the 100 table napkins when he buys them.

Weeks turned into months and then into years, and Mr. Perlovitz's machines regularly churned out 90 serviettes instead of 100 without anyone being aware of the fact. Then one Shabbos afternoon, a visiting Rabbi spoke in his Shul. He spoke about theft. "We are all guilty, at some time or other, of appropriating or misusing property which does not belong to us; of taking away something from its rightful owner."

The Rabbi elaborated on the various kinds of theft, including disturbing someone's sleep, borrowing an article without permission, and not paying workers on time. He was a lively speaker and the audience listened attentively. Suddenly Mr. Perlovitz sat up straight. Although he had known that it was not exactly honest to adjust his machine, he had never thought of it as theft. As the Rabbi concluded with the thought that there was no forgiveness for stealing unless the victim was reimbursed, David squirmed.

After minchah, David hung around until the Rabbi was free, and went to speak to him. He introduced himself, and told him how his business was not doing too well, and then rather shamefacedly, confessed to having 'fixed' his packaging machine. "Until your talk this afternoon, I am afraid that I honestly did not think I was doing anything really wrong. How can I do teshuvah?" he asked contritely.

The Rabbi stroked his beard thoughtfully, and did not reply for quite a while. Finally, he spoke, "You have a real problem, Mr. Perlovitz. The first thing you must do is to re- adjust your machine that it packs 110 serviettes each time, instead of the claimed 100. The second thing to do is to pray fervently that anyone who purchased your wares during the past few years will continue to buy them until, unknowingly, they have been paid back. Just keep on praying."

"How long will I have to keep this up?" asked David doubtfully.

"You will surely be given some indication from Above that you have been forgiven," replied the Rabbi, as he left the shul.

The next day, David once again let himself stealthily into the deserted plant, and followed the Rabbi's instructions. Surprisingly, there was no significant drop in his earnings during the following months. He sold about the same amount as usual, and eked out a meager profit. Then the National Consumer Council began to conduct a nation wide survey of paper goods. As usual after a survey, they announced Best Buys and Value for Money. They publicized their findings about the choice of color and variety, quality and other features. They added a note to their findings in the Consumer Council's monthly bulletin.

"Our investigators have found that the packets of Perlspaper serviettes invariably contained more than the amount stipulated on the packet. We bought them in five different locations, and the amount never varied. Although the quality of their merchandise is good, it is not at the very top of the list; nevertheless, we recommend Perlspaper as Best Buy, for those who want value for money."

An enterprising reporter who read the Consumer Council report decided to investigate this strange phenomenon. He found out who the owner of Perlspaper was and asked Mr. Perlovitz for an interview. He began, "Mr.Perlovitz, I understand that every single packet of your serviettes holds 110 instead of 100. Is that correct?"

"I believe that is so."

"Did you know about this before the survey?"

"I did."

"How long have you known about this?"

"No comment."

"Are you going to put it right now that you have found out?"

"No comment."

A disgruntled reporter left the Perlovitz residence without the hoped for scoop. However, he gave the interview quite a write-up, which was all publicity for Perlspaper. There was a run on all his goods and the retailers phoned insistently for extra deliveries. Mr. Perlovitz hired several extra workers, and as soon as possible, installed some extra machines. Still the demand increased, and Perlspaper had to move to larger premises. The packets of serviettes continued to provide customers with 110 napkins instead of 100.

The following year, Perlspaper moved into a new, especially designed factory. Mr. Perlovitz employed an excellent foreman, and he himself decided to spend his mornings learning. He had not been in Yeshiva for very long and had never had the opportunity to improve on his knowledge. He did not want his little boys to be ashamed of him.

The time had come, David felt, for the new machines to do the work they were fixed to do by default, without anyone interfering with them. He felt that the success of the business and the ever increasing sales, were a sign that his teshuvah had been accepted. Honesty, in Mr. Perlovitz's home, forever after, was scrupulously adhered to at all times, without any compromise whatsoever.


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