The Torah obligates us to keep the proper measures in weights and rulers, like Amah and Tefach and Log and Shekel and Selah.

Let's imagine there's an argument in court about house footage - one says 10 Ama and another 12. Who is witnessing in the court about their measurements?

So from Moses and on who represented the Jewish "Bureau of Weights and Measures"?

1 Answer 1


Rambam in Geneivah 7:1 writes:

הַשּׁוֹקֵל לַחֲבֵרוֹ מִמִּשְׁקָלוֹת חֲסֵרוֹת מִן הַמִּשְׁקָל שֶׁהִסְכִּימוּ עָלָיו בְּנֵי אוֹתָהּ הַמְּדִינָה. אוֹ הַמּוֹדֵד בְּמִדָּה חֲסֵרָה מִן הַמִּדָּה שֶׁהִסְכִּימוּ עָלֶיהָ. הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט לה) "לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ עָוֶל בַּמִּשְׁפָּט בַּמִּדָּה בַּמִּשְׁקָל וּבַמְּשׂוּרָה":

One who weights out for his friend from weights deficient from the weights which the people of that country agreed upon, or if he measures out using a ruler deficient from the length which they agreed upon, he is in violation of a prohibition, as it says (Vayikra 19:35), "Do not do injustice in judgement, with lengths, weights, and volumes."

According to the Rambam, at least, the prohibition is based on the generally accepted measurements. So to answer your question: society in general, which, in practice, was probably the local government.

  • Oh, I can put that Rambam in the Q to stress the importance, but... Can I be honest with you? See, if you follow my question you can spot a certain pattern of holes in Halacha, that seriously question its implementability. Age is crucial but nobody's counting, weights are important but nobody's keeping them, Torah's exact but nobody really cares for it. Do you see it too?
    – Al Berko
    Jan 10, 2019 at 0:20
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    Why are those holes? As it pertains to this question in particular, the Torah is stressing that you not cheat anyone in business, but what's defined as a particular measure is just whatever agrees it is. Why is that a hole? If you're asking a general question, by all means, ask the general question. You asked a specific question of who's in charge of the measurements, and I gave you the answer: the community.
    – DonielF
    Jan 10, 2019 at 0:23
  • So that's how you "sourcelessly" interpret "הַמִּדָּה שֶׁהִסְכִּימוּ עָלֶיהָ. "? Can we find anything better? Who's the "community"? Who's IN the community?
    – Al Berko
    Jan 10, 2019 at 0:39
  • 5
    @AlBerko please just write clearer questions from the outset instead of vague ones and then pestering people with follow ups refining your question
    – Double AA
    Jan 10, 2019 at 1:19
  • 1
    @AlBerko Your question was who defines the measurements, not who enforces them. If you want to know who enforces them, you can edit your question and I can edit in Geneivah 8:20 into my answer. But if all you care about is who defines the measurements, then that question is entirely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.
    – DonielF
    Jan 10, 2019 at 1:35

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