Ani Ha’Mehapech Be’Chararah – What’s Considered Fair Competition? Talmudic Intrigue in Real Estate, Party Brownies, Dating and Dream Jobs


We live in a world of finite resources, and it is inevitable that we occasionally end up at odds with others, each side vying for exclusive rights to certain resources. These disputes may be over a house, a car, employment, or even a potential spouse. This is called “competition.”  When two or more people compete for a single resource, one of them will ultimately achieve his goal at the cost of the others. On the one hand, the Talmud (Bava Batra 21b) generally endorses competition, in spite of the fact that someone will end up losing out. On the other hand, not all competition is proper. Judaism provides a framework for what competition is considered legitimate, and which crosses the “red lines.”

This Thinking Gemara shiur examines the concept of Ani Ha’mehapech Be’chararah (a pauper searching for bread), to understand what is considered fair competition through four scenarios: real estate, the last brownie at a party, dating and applying for employment.


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