Accepting Payment for Free Service


As the story goes in the Book of Genesis, Efron offers Abraham Avinu the cave of Machpela for free. Abraham wants to pay for it. Efron then charges him a hefty sum of money. He is frowned upon for doing so.
I run a business where I sometimes offer to do free charity jobs for the poor or for people who are better off economically but have been through some rough times. Sometimes when I offer to do the assignment for free, the poor person still insists on paying me, in some cases quite a lot. It might hurt their feelings if I don’t accept. If I accept a payment such a payment, is that permitted, or does this behavior resemble Efron?



  1. The two scenarios are not comparable. When Efron offered Machpela for free he had no intention of actually following through with his offer. It was an opening gambit, knowing that Avraham would not take him up on his offer and he would insist on paying for it. More than that, if Efron would have sufficed at asking for an astronomical amount of money for the Machpela Cave, the Rabbis would not have censured him. However, Efron in his great greed, stole money from Avraham, as he was counting out the agreed upon sum.

    In your case, however, you are actually doing a great Mitzvah by agreeing to take money from the person in need, as it leaves him with his dignity intact. Of course, this is only applicable to those who ask to pay for your services. For those who do not, your assistance to them is immeasurable in the Spiritual realms.

    Best wishes from the Team