False Scales Are an Abomination

Article 16 of New York Agriculture and Market Law regulates the use of weights and measures in commerce.  But the Torah regulated weights and measures long before the New York State Legislature enacted its Agriculture and Market Law, and indeed, long before there ever was a New York State Legislature.

When we stood at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, we were commanded “You shall not falsify measures of length, weight, or capacity. You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin. I the Lord am your God who freed you from the land of Egypt.” [Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:35-36].

After wandering in the desert for forty years, Moses expanded upon that in his farewell address:  “You shall not have in your pouch alternate weights, larger and smaller. You shall not have in your house alternate measures, a larger and a smaller. You must have completely honest weights and completely honest measures, if you are to endure long on the soil that the Lord your God is giving you. For everyone who does those things, everyone who deals dishonestly, is abhorrent to the Lord your God.”  [Dvarim (Deuteronomy) 25:13-16].

The topic would come up again in the TaNaCH (Hebrew Bible), including in Mishlei (Proverbs) 11:1: “False scales are an abomination to the Lord; An honest weight pleases Him.”

As with everything else in the TaNaCH, the Rabbis of the Talmud further expounded upon the honest weights and measures commandment; some even took the position that the “You shall not have in your house alternate measures” clause prohibits even using an inaccurate measuring bowl as a chamber pot [Baba Batra 89b].  That the Torah specifically mentions measurements of diverse parameters of length, weight, and capacity (and also the scale itself) indicates that all measures must be honest.

In those days there were no devices in wide use for measuring temperature with any degree of exactitude, but had there been thermometers there can be little doubt that the Rabbis would have construed them under the ambit of the honest weights and measures requirement.  Indeed, when Berel Weinstein invented a disposable thermometer for medical purposes, improved accuracy in measuring the patients’ body temperature was explicit in the claims of his patent application (never mind Weinstein’s apparent liberties taken in attempting to fund the venture).

The technological advancements during the past half-century following Weinstein’s patent of a thermometer whose novelty explicitly included improvements upon accuracy in ascertaining and recording a patient’s body temperature (in addition to patient safety) not only have brought about new methods for measuring parameters in the goods of the marketplace, but also have produced new commodities, many of which are intangible but nevertheless require accurate measurement.

Technology impacted the election process well before Weinstein’s thermometer.  In ancient Greece, votes in elections were tallied by physically counting pottery shards upon which the names of candidates for public office (or, more infamously, banishment from the city; the term “ostracism” is derived from the Greek word for potsherd, “ostrakon” (οστρακον).).

Over the centuries, pottery was replaced by paper, and the counting of paper ballots became the norm which is still in use today in many jurisdictions, including Israel.

[Yes, this posting is now segueing into the American political events du jour, so full (re)disclosure is now in order.  As indicated in my prior posting of 13 November 2020, I chose to cast my vote for Donald Trump in this past election, but cannot sleep easy regardless of who ultimately wins the still-disputed election.].

In an ever-growing number of American electoral precincts the purely mechanical version of the voting machine, which mechanically counts intangible votes, is becoming increasingly obsoleted by its computerized technological descendant.  The software that does the counting in the new machines is more susceptible to fraudulent influence than are the mechanical counters in the older version.  But there is a reasonable basis to suspect that the software does more than passively mismeasure the votes; evidence very, very strongly suggests that at least some of the utilized software is programmed to proactively falsify the numbers fed into it.

All of the Talmudic commentators would likely hold that the use of such software in such a manner, if true, is a clear violation of the prohibition against inaccurate weights and measures; some would even hold that mere possession of such software is verboten.

And the Democratic Party cannot now claim that it was unaware of the software’s susceptibility to fraud because on 26 March 2019, four US Senators,  Democrats all, joined in sending a letter to the three main purveyors of the electronic vote-counting systems in which the Senators’ purported concerns for the integrity of the elections were asserted.  If indeed the numerous allegations, from diverse quarters, of software fraud have any basis, it now would be inconvenient for Democrats to discuss the matter; that the Democrats have avoided mention of the issue of late is very suspicious.

And if indeed software fraud is rampant in the latest election, what of the more “conventional” election frauds with the paper ballots?

Personal criticisms and attacks against me on social media (and elsewhere) have continued.  In the past few days I have been accused of being mentally deficient, irrational, “uneducated and unethical”, and complicit in trying to steal the election.

As an American citizen who has taken the trouble and expense of voting in a federal election (my overseas absentee ballot was sent via International Express Mail, and its receipt by the Board of Elections thereby confirmed), I am willing to abide with the valid results of that election.  There now stand some valid questions as to the accuracy of the vote count, and there accordingly is valid reason to call for verification of the reported results.

But all Americans, myself included, are entitled to a fair and accurate vote count.  This is far more than a right implied from how a judge or legal scholar construes the United States Constitution – It is rooted in a command by a Higher Power thousands of years before the United States of America came into existence.

About the Author
Born in Philadelphia, Kenneth lived on Long Island and made Aliyah to Israel. Professionally, he worked as a lawyer in the USA (including as an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service), a college professor and an analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense. He's also a writer and a traveler.
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