Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 8, 2009 / 16 Sivan 5769

Merchant must take responsibility for careless shopper?

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. My store sells fresh produce in transparent boxes. In order to make the fruit more attractive I always put the nicest ones on top; the less attractive ones are on the bottom where everyone can see them but they have to look.


A. Your situation touches on a number of guidelines presented in the Mishna and Talmud for ethical selling practices. These are discussed in the Mishna at the end of the fourth chapter of tractate Bava Metzia.


One may not mix produce with produce…In a place where it is customary to mix water into wine it is permissible…A reseller may take from five barns and put them in one container, from five vineyards and put in one container, as long as he does not intend to mix.


When a seller represents produce as coming from his own field, he may not mix it with produce from another field of lower quality. Everyone understands that a reseller purchases produce from a variety of growers, but he still may not "game the system" by purposely buying only low-quality produce.


So the very fact that you mix high- and low-quality produce in the same container is not a problem. Everyone understands that you have a variety of produce, and when produce is packaged it is common to mix qualities so that each customer gets his fair share of the better and worse produce.


The Mishna continues:


He may not sort the beans, according to Abba Shaul; but the Sages permit it. And they agree that he may not sort them [only] on top of the bin, for it is only to steal the eye. And it is forbidden to decorate people, animals or utensils.


The sage Abba Shaul was against "convenience packaging", which in his opinion raised prices. But the Sages saw nothing wrong with this; if the customer is willing to pay more for convenience packaging then it is permissible. However, if only the beans on top of the display are cleaned from debris, then the customer will likely assume that all of the produce is clean, and be misled into paying a higher price for the inferior produce.


The Talmud explains further that decorating utensils is forbidden only if it is used to make old utensils appear new. But decorating any utensil to make it more attractive is permissible.


Your question is intermediate between the cases in the Mishna. On the one hand, you are putting the best produce on top; this is similar to putting the cleaned beans on top of the bin to "steal the eye". On the other hand, since the box is transparent any person can see the "bottom of the barrel produce" underneath; perhaps this is like decorating the produce, making it more attractive rather than trying to mislead the customer.


The answer to your question ultimately depends not on you but on your customers. If almost all your customers are sophisticated shoppers who are well aware that they have to peek on the bottom of the box, and the way you package makes it easy for them to do so, then you are just making your produce attractive. This would be especially true if all merchants adopt this practice, as the previous Mishna mentions that mixing is permissible where it is customary.


But if there is a significant minority who are misled into thinking that they are obtaining a uniform container of produce like what they see on top, then this is a case of "stealing the eye," as the Mishna explains.


I have often suspected that this is a deceptive practice, meant to deceive the careless shopper. But perhaps I am just an unusually careless shopper. The way to find out is to take a little survey of your customers and see how many peek at the produce on the bottom of the box. If you see one who doesn't, remind him to look so he can be sure he is satisfied with what he is getting.


Based on your survey, you can decide for yourself if your practice involves misrepresenting your produce or merely making it more attractive.

ARCHIVES

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.

THE JEWISH ETHICIST, NOW IN BOOK FORM

You've enjoyed his columns on JWR for years. Now the Jewish Ethicist has culled his most intriguing — and controversial — offerings in book form.
HARDCOVER
PAPERBACK
Sales help fund JWR.









© 2009, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics