My Integrity Challenge

How far does honesty go?

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Comments (26)

(26) MASBH"Y, January 15, 2013 4:13 PM

Stealing is stealing...

My mother, z"l, always impressed upon us that "stealing is stealing, whether it's five cents or a nickel [sic]" There have been many many times when I have gone back to a store (sometimes a day or two later, when noticed) to report an error in my favor, and turn over the amount due. One period in our lives when this happened quite often was when we were a Niielsen family, and therefore had to scan every grocery item by hand at home and report the price paid. I frequently found the store having made mistakes (charging for the wrong type of produce, leaving off an item from the bill, etc), sometimes in my favor, sometimes in theirs, but I always went back and corrected the mistake. And yes, I often had my children in tow as well. Does it feel good? absolutely. But it's also the correct way to behave.

(25) Iris Moskovitz, January 13, 2013 4:56 AM

Reminded me of an incident from years ago I experienced.

Years ago, I purchased a blouse that was quite elaborate , for a wedding, at 70.00. When I came home and looked at my receipt,, the total charged was 70cents!!!!I returned to the store the following day, and showed the receipt with the obvious error. The saleslady could not believe I went out of my way, to try to pay the correct amount. She told me it was their mistake, and I should enjoy my amazing deal of the century.

(24) Claude R Schwesig, January 12, 2013 10:23 PM

Honesty Not the Best Policy

A number of years ago, I came to realize that honesty is NOT the best policy - it is the ONLY policy. Dishonesty and all its derivatives are not really policies, but perversions, misunderstandings of what is right........something to think about!

(23) Joshua, January 10, 2013 10:03 PM

Seeking opportunity

Keep your lamps burning and do not let your light go out.

(22) Anonymous, January 10, 2013 5:08 AM

No, never again

So at Safeway near my house there is a bank of checkouts. After I checked out, I realised that the purchases for my mother, about $25 worth, I hadn't paid for. I intended to pay for them myself but I had separated them from my family's food because I was going to her place straight after I dropped our family food off. Well, I went back, and the clerk said, Oh look EVERYONE, this lady has brought ALL these items back that didn't get paid for, isn't she WONDERFUL???' That was embarrassing. really really embarrassing. I have never corrected an error in my favour again. I would send in one of my children and now I'll send in one of my grandchildren to do the embarrasing deed. :)

(21) Pinchas H, January 10, 2013 1:39 AM

i have and would of done exactly as you have.

If you truly believe everything monetarily was sealed on Yom Kippur, wouldn't you do the same, especially for the Santification of Gd? The Chillul HaShems are easily noticed because the Kiddush HaShems go unnoticed. Thank for leveling the playing field - you are not being arrogant :) Ok now i gotta learn and close this laptop and do some more secret Kiddush Hashem. Kol Tuv

(20) ladydi, January 9, 2013 7:22 PM

hell no. Their loss is my gain.

(19) Shani, January 9, 2013 2:56 PM

It's a no brainer.

How could you not tell them? My husband and I often travel with our dog. Hotel desk clerks always tell us there is a pet fee when we check in, but it is not put on the bill. We point out the omission every time, but have never been charged. We aren't entitled to this, so we give extra tzedukah and feel good a second time.

(18) Nathan, January 9, 2013 2:18 PM

It is compulsory, certainly when deling with a Jews

When buying some items in a Supermarket, the attendant marked the correct weight, but not the correct price, so that I was left owing more than 150 Shekels. I approached the owner, who accepted my further cheque, saying "Yirbu kamotcha b'Yisrael". Apart from the Kiddush Hashem, G-d keeps an account, and I wouldn't have gained from keeping the money

(17) irene brunstein, January 9, 2013 12:43 PM


When you display honesty, you share G-d's sanctity with others. Others feel Hashem by the interaction. You get to demonstrate G-d's power in this world. Others feel the connection and your own connection is strengthened,

(16) Lisa, January 9, 2013 12:32 PM

You hit the jackpot!!

Yes... I have learned better to pay "down here " than to pay " up there!!" The best case scenario is to go back & tell the cashier they have made a mistake when your kids are with you!!

(15) Low Seng Joo, January 9, 2013 10:28 AM

What if......?

What if the amount involved was very much more, say in the tens, hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars, would we still do the honest and right thing, even if no one knows except G_d? ....and of course the one in that predicament. What the rabbi said will help us decide to do the right thing "it's not my money, doesn't belong to me and that's ok" but it won't be easy. Personally I decide before hand what I would do if faced with such a temptation but then I haven't been tested with such amount yet, only in tens and hundreds of dollars.

(14) Bruno Gideon, January 9, 2013 8:27 AM

Yes, I would have...

Yes, I would have told them, too. I learned in my long life that honesty ALWAYS pays, but is this the reason that I would have been honest? Good question and the answer I think is yes. I strongly believe that giving is the primary act to receiving, so maybe it would have been kind of an ego thing.

(13) Anonymous, January 9, 2013 3:19 AM

I would have left

I must be honest - I would have left. Perhaps I would have justified this in my mind by thinking that the $100 was significant to me but pretty insignificant for the hotel chain (as opposed to a situation where a waiter might have made a mistake in my favor - in that case, I would definitely point out the error because I would not want the waiter to make up for the mistake). However, I am glad I watched this video, because in the future, I will think differently about this. I can understand that the joy and good feelings one gets in doing right is worth way more than the $100 (and that, anyway, it's just the right thing to do). Thanks.

(12) Anonymous, January 9, 2013 2:28 AM

You won't like my answer

But here it is: if I ever wanted to stay again at that hotel, I would tell the staff of the error in my favor. If I thought I would never stay there again, I would probably shrug it off, but if they later caught it, of course I would pay and pretend that I had noticed the error previously. I may not be honest 100% of the time, but my answer to you, is.

(11) Duane Bass, January 8, 2013 10:14 PM

another $100 story

I was working for a guy, and he decided to pay me a partial payment. He said "Heres $500. . ." I did not count it until. I got home. Surprise, $600! I was telling everyone about my good fortune, and they were all happy for me, because dude had lots of cash. The next time I saw him, I told him that he gave me more than he thought. I ended up doing a lot more work for him, and I still do occasionally. I told all my people what I had done, and as they berated me, they eyes told a stopry of admiration. I am the only one that felt good about it all, but who else matters? I watch you every week, and whenever I can.

(10) Leah, January 8, 2013 9:36 PM


I just had this experience at my bank. I cahsed a check for $35.24 and was given $45.24. I usually don't count my money before I leave the drive-up but did this time and found the error. I did send the money back in. It always feels better to do the right thing even when others don't appreciate it.

(9) bvw, January 8, 2013 9:14 PM

Good, but what if you miss your plane?

If you drove off intending to settle by phone later, perhaps you would not then later call. But do you want to add to their mistake by missing a plane?

(8) Anonymous, January 8, 2013 7:19 PM

Bank error in our favor

We had a similar experience. My husband withdrew 1300 NIS out of an Israeli bank, and instead of it being taken out, it was added to our account. So instead of being down 1300 NIS, we were ahead 2600 NIS. We went back to the bank and explained that we knew that it was an error, that we did not deposit the money. It took speaking to a number of people at the bank to finally convince them of the error, and they were all very grateful to us. It was a kiddush Hashem. You are right. It does give one a very good feeling doing the right thing when no one would know but Hashem. That is the way we live. I don't think we were even tempted to do differently.

(7) Sara Ben-Zakai, January 8, 2013 6:24 PM

Ask the question - sometimes it is in your favour.

My father (Z"L) used to say that asking a question gets a yes or no - definately worth asking. Years ago I phoned for a reservation to the Marriott Hotel and was told it was $200 for the weekend for a room - Friday and Saturday night. Off I go with my family. At the end of the stay I was presented with a $400 bill. I mentioned about the $200 for the weekend and she said it was per night. I was so upset I asked her for the full name and address of the owner. She did not have it. I wrote a letter and addressed it to Mr. Philip Marriott, Marriott Hotels, Washington D.C. (all the information I had). 2 months later I received a letter from Mr. Marriott with a cheque for $400 and an apology. Worth asking the question, eh?

(6) ruth housman, January 8, 2013 5:48 PM

Honest Tea

I find it so interesting that this commentary, something to think about for sure, occurs right after I had read about the tea put out by Coca Cola, called, honest tea. Apparently, it's not so honest, and declares its ingredients as part of Fair Trade but actually only one ingredient IS. It is worth googling this. It could very well be that Divine Providence, is working here, as in the article, and in my reading this. I believe any opportunity to be honest, is a testing ground. For ethics, and you did what is ethically right. Even, the wrestling with the ethics of how to handle such a situation is important. Have I encountered this, in life. Certainly. Recently I passed a dog on the road, and he looked well fed, but maybe, he was LOST. I agonized about how I did not stop for a full half hour, and did resolve on my return, if I had seen him, to pick him up.

(5) Marsha, January 6, 2013 11:52 PM


My answer has two parts. (I) In response to comments "1 and 3: When one hesitates one is battling between ones thoughts and emotions. Each person has his/her battle line (i.e what has become second nature versus what one is still working and growing in.) Secondly, without going into detail, there are the basics demanded of one based on Jewish law. With that knowledge one then has to apply the kiddush Hashem factor into it, making this decision something to think about. Regarding whether the man at the desk has the authority to be mochel and not make the necessary changes is not in our hands per se. This leads me to Part II of my response. Recently I had used a $100 bill (that is all I had on me) to pay for filling up my car with gas. The amount was $35.03. I was makpid (exacting) on giving the attendee the three cents for the reasons that although businesses are mochel it, the attendee is not the owner and also for a kiddush Hashem on some level.In addition, I feel if we are careful with other people's money Hashem will be careful with our money.

(4) Anonymous, January 6, 2013 11:10 PM

please do not post this - just forward to rabbi solomon

Did the man at the desk have the authority to be mochel the money on behalf of the hotel?

(3) Wendy, January 6, 2013 10:47 PM

Clerks' Miscalculations and My Response

Yes, this has happened recently to me, once at the drug store, and once at the gas station. I glanced at a drug store receipt and realized that the cashier had not charged me for an expensive item. Like you I was in a hurry to get on with my life and so did not want to go back to the drug store, but I went back the next day, told the manager, showed the bill and the item and gave her the money, because, to respond to her surprise, I said, " I could not live with myself as a thief. " An associated moral dilemma, as with the hotel clerk, was that the drug store clerk was going to get in trouble for this mistake. So, my honesty also meant possible punishment to the clerk. Although I did not grasp this dimension until I spoke with the manager, I do not think it changes the moral imperative for honesty. At the gas station, I owed something like $45.03 for gas. Since I paid cash, the attendant told me I did not have to pay the three cents. Walking to the car I realized that the attendant was not the owner and actually did not legally have discriminatory rights to free me from paying my bill, even if it were three cents. Yes, possibly the owner told him that he would be allowed to do this to buy good will, but I did not know if this were the case. These thoughts weighed on my mind as I walked. So, I entered my car, but I immediately got out of my car and returned to the kiosk and insisted that he take the three cents. How did I feel? Relieved, not to have run up moral debt from theft. I felt I did what was expected of a decent person. Happily, without a guilty conscience, I was able to completely forget these events until you brought up this topic.

(2) Deb, January 6, 2013 7:13 PM

Yes I would have done the same

And it has happened to me on a number of occasions and people have always been surprised and grateful.

(1) Eamon, January 6, 2013 1:47 PM

Honesty or obligation?

I would have been shocked if you had not gone back to explain the error. However, why did you hesitate when you noticed the error? I get the impression that you have not had much experience dealing with a situation like you have explained.


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