While researching on Shtut, WIKI says that the reason for that forgiveness is either הלכה למשה מסיני or human psychology.

Indeed, Rambam Mechira 12,3 writes:

"הָיְתָה הַהוֹנָיָה פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה בְּכָל שֶׁהוּא. כְּגוֹן שֶׁמָּכַר שְׁוֵה שִׁשִּׁים דִּינָר בַּחֲמִשִּׁים וּפְרוּטָה. אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר כְּלוּם.
שֶׁכָּל פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁתוּת דֶּרֶךְ הַכּל לִמְחל בּוֹ: "

"If the fraud has amounted somewhat less than that, — — the defrauder is not required to restore anything, since it is generally customary to forego anything less than a sixth. "

This "customary" - "דרך הכל" seems illogical to me, would you agree to forgive 17%? For example, imagine buying a siddur from a local synagogue's Gabbay for $70 and a day later stumbling upon an official pricelist that states that the price is $60. Would you feel as "surely forgive"?

THe question: was it a common practice in their times that's backed by external sources (maybe Greek or Roman law) or what's the explanation of that (nonexistent now) psychology?


Not really comparable - in your scenario there's an official shul price list which the gabbai knows about and is expected to follow. But most of the time there's a range of prices within a geographical area; does every grocery store in your neighborhood sell bread at exactly the same price, for example? So if you go to one store where a loaf of bread is $2.99, and then later to another store where you can get it for $2.50, you're usually not going to go and return the bread to the first store in order to save 49 cents - it's not worth the trouble. That's mechilah. (At most, you'll start shopping at the second store from now on.)

See Tur Choshen Mishpat 227:

וכתב א"א הרא"ש ז"ל... אלא שחכמים אמרו עד שתות הוי מחילה לפי שכן הוא דרך מקח וממכר שאין הלוקח והמוכר יכולין לכוין דמי המקח בצמצום ודרך העולם למחול טעות עד שתות

The Rosh writes that the Chachamim said that there's mechilah up to 1/6 because this is the normal way of commerce, that the buyer and seller can't establish the value of the item with such precision, and so people typically forgo an error of up to 1/6.

So we're explicitly not talking about a case where there's a fixed price, but one where the price fluctuates within some reasonable range.

  • It appears that you're wrong, שתות is not measured between different merchants, but against a fixed שער, that's why I brought this example - a pricelist. So you both didn't know the pricelist and you agreed to pay $70. Then you both found out the pricelist says $60 - do you feel מחילה here? – Al Berko Jan 17 '19 at 17:54
  • @AlBerko Where is your source that it's measured against a fixed שער? – Meir Jan 17 '19 at 18:30
  • @AlBerko "In our typical commercial setting, however, the market is wide and there are often significant price differences between stores selling the same item. Any price that the majority of sellers would consider a marketable price – one that can still conform to the commercial rules of supply and demand – would be considered a fair market price, even if this seller is the only one to charge such a price. Therefore, most prices charged by stores would still be considered fair market value (Hilchos Mishpat 227)." Sounds like exactly the opposite of a fixed שער/pricelist. – Meir Jan 17 '19 at 19:35
  • Keep reading, it brings a situation where there's a fixed (governmental or communal) price. – Al Berko Jan 17 '19 at 19:42

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