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Growing up, we had a separate home phone line that was listed in the phonebook and had a distinctive ring. So we knew when someone was calling us who had gotten our number out of the phonebook. This was most often telemarketers. So we would answer the phone and try to order a pizza from them, or pretend we only spoke pig-latin.

Is there anything inappropriate (Halachically/ethically) about doing that?

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  • Personally, I like your sense of humour, and my friends and I have a list of prank calls we used to do to information operators (Gee, am I dating myself, here, or what??) that would have you rolling on the floor. (E.g. - we asked the operator "Where are my socks?") But there may be 2 problems - gneivat da'at and, perhaps, excessive levity? – DanF Jul 4 '14 at 3:24
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    It appears we don't have a geneivas daas tag....who thinks we should? [ @DanF ] – Shokhet Jul 4 '14 at 3:38
  • @YEZ - I guess you haven't earned enough points to create new tags? – DanF Jul 4 '14 at 18:16
  • @DanF I try not to create new tags unless they seem necessary. Are there so many geneivas daas questions? – Y     e     z Jul 4 '14 at 18:17
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There is a prohibition of "Ona'at Devarim" - "Verbal Oppresion". This prohibition emanates from two closely placed verses - Vayikra 25:14 and 25:17 that state "Do not aggrieve one another." This article details the applications of "Ona'as Devarim".

In summary, the caller expected to make a sale. Your attempting to play jokes on him most likely aggrieved him and, perhaps, emabrassed him, as well - a separate prohibition. I would assume that the prohibition of Ona'at Devarim applies to not aggrieving gentiles as well as Jews, but I'd have to check that.

So, while you may have had fun, the caller and God, most likely, may not have had had the same sense of humour...

  • (It probably doesn't apply to non-Jews, but that doesn't mean you should go be mean.) – Double AA Jul 7 '14 at 21:51
  • @DoubleAA - What makes you feel that it wouldn't apply to non-Jews? Wouldn't "darkei Shalom" apply? – DanF Jul 8 '14 at 1:25
  • Darkei shalom might, but onaah doesn't. That's what I said above. – Double AA Jul 8 '14 at 1:28
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See Shulchan Aruch CM 227:26 which says that there is no prohibition of Onaas Mamon (money) when done to a goy. This is because of the passuk לא תונו איש את אחיו - A goy is not Achiv.

Concerning Onaas Devarim the passuk says LO TONU ISH ES Amiso, which also excludes goyim.

BUT

See Yam Shel shlomo Baba Kama 10:20 that if a chilul Hashem will be caused it is forbidden.

The SMA in CM 348:2 explains the Rema and Rambam that even when there is no Aveira of Onaah, if it involves Genaivas daas it is still forbidden.

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