Needless Wasting

By Rabbi Chaim Chazzan

 

May one purchase something for more expensive when one is able to buy the same thing for cheaper? In other words: Is needless spending of money included in the prohibition of Bal Tashchis (do not destroy)?

 

The halachic definition[1] of Bal Tashchis is to actively damage or destroy anything that people can benefit from. Therefore the prohibition includes:

A) Destructive Manner: Bal Tashchis pertains to ruining something in a destructive manner, but if the destruction serves a beneficial purpose it is not considered Bal Tashchis. This includes several : (1) Personal benefit – demolishing a building for the purpose of rebuilding another in its place[2]; (2) Mitzvah benefit – destroying something for the sake of a mitzvah such as destroying chametz before Pesach[3]; or (3) Standard practice – trashing disposable tableware after one use (which is the expected method of use for that product)[4].

B) Causes Detriment to Mankind: Bal Tashchis pertains to destroying something which benefits mankind[5]. Therefore, hunting animals in a forest with no intention of use is not considered Bal Tashchis (although other issues may be involved), since humans don’t benefit from them[6]. Likewise chopping down a non-fruit-bearing trees is not prohibited[7], unless it is part of a garden or the like which provides pleasure to mankind[8].

C) Actively Destroying: Allowing something to rot is not considered Bal Tashchis[9]. For example: It is permitted to abstain from watering a plant and let it wither. Likewise, it is permitted to cook a fresh supper although one has leftovers from yesterday’s supper that will end up going to waste[10] (in addition, his desire is a fresh supper and he has no destructive intent) or to leave a pile of unwanted clothes in the street[11] (besides the fact that others may take them for use).

In our case: Since when one spends more money than needed the seller is profiting, it is not considered destructive, and not Bal Tashchis[12].

Reprinted with permission from  Lmaan Yishmeu – a project of Mercaz Anash. To see more articles visit Mercazanash.com


[1] ראה שוע”ר חו”מ דיהי שמירת גוף ונפש ובל תשחית סעי’ יד-טז

[2] שם סעי’ טו

[3] שם, וראה שו”ת תורה לשמה שאלה ת, הר צבי או”ח ח”ב ס’ קב, שבט הלוי ח”ט יו”ד סי’ קכ, וראה ספר עץ השדה (שטסמן) סי’ יא-טו

[4] ספר חיי משה יו”ד איסור בל תשחית

[5] שוע”ר שם

[6] נו”ב תנינא סי’ י

[7] שוע”ר שם

[8] ראיתי בשם פוסקי זמנינו

[9] ראה בספר עץ השדה פ”ז סעי ג, בשם כמה אחרונים

[10] ספר אמרי יעקב על שוע”ר חו”מ שם ביאורים ד”ה מאבד מאכלות.

[11] שו”ת שבט הלוי ח”ט יו”ד סי’ קנט

[12] עץ השדה שם פ”ז הע’ כד

 

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