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Is It Ethical to Regift?

Is It Ethical to Regift?

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Question:

Is it wrong to regift? My uncle just came back from Hong Kong and brought me a very expensive green tie with red zigzags. I would not be caught dead wearing it. But I have a friend with the same taste as my uncle who would love it, and it’s his birthday next week. Is there any issue with me passing it on, rather than letting it gather dust in my closet?

Answer:

You need to think this through.

A gift is given to be yours. That means you can do with it whatever you wish. If you want to use the tie as a dishrag, sell it on eBay or make it your dog’s scarf, no one can stop you.

But a gift is not just a gift; it is a sentiment, a thought, a feeling. Your uncle may have personally picked this tie out for you, thinking you would appreciate it. If he then sees it on your dog or on your friend or on eBay, he may be hurt. It is not the tie you have rejected, it is his thoughtfulness.

Then again, maybe he wouldn’t care, or would never find out. Even so, there is an additional concern when you pass on a gift to a friend. You are fooling your friend. When he receives this expensive tie from you, he will feel indebted to you for your generosity. He will feel he must reciprocate when it is your birthday, and buy you something of real value. And unless he has an uncle who shares your fine taste, that may cost him.

By regifting the tie to your friend, you are scoring unfair points. He thinks you are being gracious by giving him such a valuable gift, when in actual fact you are dumping your unwanted merchandise on him. The Talmud calls this “stealing someone’s goodwill.”

So regifting may be perfectly kosher, but before you regift, ask yourself the following questions: Will anyone be hurt by my actions? Was this gift bought with me in mind, or could it have gone to anyone? Will anyone be misled?

You may have good taste in ties, but you don’t want to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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11 Comments
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Brittney May 28, 2017

I think you already know the answer to this one. Sounds a bit like your justifying your actions. But then again that's not up to me. Reply

Barbara Niles Phoenix, Arizona June 14, 2016

To Rivka I suppose you could ask around to see if anyone wanted the item you are regifting; however, I would like to think that discretion is more important in this instance. Reply

rivka June 9, 2016

So is it also unethical when you have something you don't need to just go around and say, "does anyone want this"? Reply

Barbara Niles Phoenix, Arizona June 9, 2016

Regifting I see no problem with regifting as long as there is no connection between the original giver and the ultimate recipient. It is probably a good idea to share the source with the ultimate recipient, however. Why should this gift sit around unused when there is someone who can make good use of it and enjoy it? Of course, one could donate it to a thrift shop such as Goodwill. Then, you don't call it "regifting," you call it "recycling." That will make you very PC! Reply

Anonymous Florida June 9, 2016

More "stuff" Wow. My sister is very generous with presents from her travels all over the world and gifts me what she considers treasures, but what I consider (with my clutter-free life) more "stuff" to stow away and manage. Your comments brought me to a different level of understanding. I guess being a people person and not a stuff person I discounted the thoughtfulness and care she took in shopping for the items she sends to me.
Thank you for making me aware and more sensitive. Reply

Fro June 8, 2016

Sublimely wise insight. Thank you so much. Reply

Anonymous Portland, OR June 8, 2016

re-gifting Your point, a gift given has become my property to do with as I please, is well taken, as well as your commentary regarding others' thoughts & feelings. Finally, if my friend and I have a close enough relationship, I can pass along the expensive tie with an honest conversation about it being a gift from my uncle, but my thought of your appreciation of the style and my affection for you mean that I am giving this to bless you, not to dump it. I do own it, it has value, and I value you, so I'm not expecting equivalent gift, just your appreciation and affection in return as you enjoy it and remember me each time you tie the knot and adjust the tie (and chuckle) before you go out. Reply

Debby USA June 8, 2016

Truthfully yours How about giving Uncle a huge hug of thanks for his thoughtfulness and generosity. Maybe even take a photo together with uncle while trying on the tie as a memory of the occasion. Say you keep your ties neutral and quiet in tone. Ask if he wouldn't mind you giving it to a good friend who has a spunky personality and wardrobe. See what he says. If he gives you permission, then tell your friend the gift comes from your uncle's Hong Kong visit; and it would look stupendous on him. Would he be offended if you re-gifted as a birthday present? Everyone has complete knowledge of the origin of this tie. Any thoughts? Re-gifting is popular today as people downsize, clean their closets or hire personal organizers and customize their 'style'. Reply

Barry E Newman Coventry June 8, 2016

such a nice tie not a problem. when I got this from my uncle I could not think of anyone who could wear it better than you. However,do not spill this wine I also brought you on this tie. I do not think the uncle would mind knowing it is being put to good use and not sitting in a closet,never to see the light of day. Reply

Anonymous Los Angeles June 8, 2016

Duplicate gifts! What if you receive two identical gifts and can use only one? Reply

Shlomo Montreal November 22, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

No problem! Both gifts are now yours-and you can do as you please. .no need to re think who the original donator is! Give one of the duplicate gift anonymously to a needy family! No need to share that Intimate knowledge with anyone! Good luck! Reply

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