Rav Avigdor Miller on Cheating on Your Taxes
Does ואהבת לרעך כמוך apply to non-Jews as well? And if not, does that mean it’s permissible to cheat them in business or to lie on our tax returns?
Now, you’re asking a few different questions here – three different questions, and each one has nothing to do with the other. First of all, it does not apply to non-Jews – it says “Love your fellow Jew.” Only your fellow Jew you have to love.
Now, don’t think it’s mean. Because although the gentiles may say they love everybody, you have to know that it’s just Christian phraseology – it’s not true; they don’t love anybody. It’s easy to say “Love everybody,” and “If he hits you on one cheek, turn the other cheek.” Do they turn the other cheek?! Hit a Christian, hit any Christian on one cheek, and see what happens. You’ll get it back!
But here we talk straight from the shoulder – we talk the truth. We have to be decent to everybody. The gemara is full of examples teaching us that – no question that you have to be decent to everybody. But love is not a cheap thing! You have to love your relatives, and our fellow Jews are our relatives. And it’s them we have to love.
Now, is it therefore permissible to cheat non-Jews? Certainly it’s not permissible! Gneivas da’as! You can’t deceive gentiles. You know what the gemara says? Listen to this: If a gentile comes into your butcher shop to buy chicken and you have one chicken that happened to die so it’s not kosher – it wasn’t shechted. But it looks the same; it’s the same quality meat. And now he came to buy a chicken in your butcher shop. So you’re not allowed to deceive him. Because he’s coming in to buy from you kosher chickens. Although kashrus means nothing to him, it’s forbidden for you to give him a non-kosher chicken. So that’s a separate question, nothing to do with the first question.
Now, your third question – can you be deceitful in your tax returns? That has nothing to do with loving non-Jews. It’s a question if it’s wrong to be dishonest to the government – that’s a different question. Certainly it’s wrong to be dishonest to the government. Of course, everybody is dishonest to the government, that we know. That’s why we have tax lawyers and accountants. That’s the business of accountants, to cheat the government as much as possible. But of course it’s wrong to be dishonest to the government. So one thing has nothing to do with the other.
I see we have a lot of good questions here but our time is up, so I want to thank you all for coming.