Sometimes the deal sounds too good to be true. An unclaimed inheritance for $8 million, or a winning ticket in a lottery for $7 million. Or even a refund of $47.52 for a failed purchase from PayPal. Are they real? Sometimes these emails look very legitimate. Unfortunately, there are many scoundrels out there who are not only trying to steal your money, but are trying to also steal your digital identity.
When you are faced with such a tantalizing opportunity, how can you determine if it is real or just another scam? Many people simply assume that the shysters out there are slicker than they are, and solve the “legitimacy” problem by dumping ALL these offers into the trash bin.
Is there a way to really check out the legitimacy of the offer? I assume that today if someone were to be really savvy, there would be “footprints” and other digital clues that he could use to give him insight to determine if the offer is legitimate or not. Certainly, before the digital age this was something that even a mildly experienced detective could do.
But what would you do with the following offer: A man comes to your home from out-of-town and makes you an offer regarding your daughter. “This is just the maiden that I was looking for to marry off to my boss, who is one of the wealthiest men in the world. He is smart, diligent and earnest. He has all of the qualities that one would look for in a husband, and it is all for your daughter if you just let her come with me.” To complicate your thought process even more, this man gives you many very expensive gifts as an incentive to consider the offer. Would you let her go? Would you assume that there were some facts that were being omitted? How would you decide to send her or not?
Rav Yitzchak MiVolozhin uses this example to explain an extra pasuk in the Torah. When Eliezer meets Rivka’s family, he starts off by saying “And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old…” (24:36). This piece of information is not relevant at all to the subject at hand. Why did Eliezer feel it is necessary to speak about the miracle of the birth of Yitzchak? He answers along the lines that if a miracle happened (which could easily be checked out), the rest of the story can be checked out easily as well. Therefore, you then have no need to fear sending your daughter along with me. Eliezer said this line, knowing that there is a need to be thorough when important decisions are in front of you.
I would like to add that many times the yetzer hara disguises himself as a windfall of goodness. Someone is offering you a trip, but you just have to miss tefilla b’tzibur. Or you might have to go to a place where your level of kashrus may be compromised. We must be prudent and examine if this is indeed a sign of goodness from Hashem, or a trap from the yetzer hara. Just as we are careful not to get involved in an unclear windfall of lotteries or inheritances from Nigeria – so too should we be careful in areas of ruchnios, to check and double-check that the “goods” are really “great!”