Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

What's Yours is Yours

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

The flood lasted forty days on the earth. (Bereshith 7:17)

It was not by chance that the Flood lasted exactly forty days. The world was destroyed by the Flood because of gezel (theft), and the gematria (numerical value) of the word gezel is 40. God chose a punishment that would show a clear association between the Flood and the theft that was so rampant in the world.(1)

There was another important message in how that generation was punished. Countless drops of rain fall simultaneously, yet each one has its own path, and does not enter the path of any other drop. In the same way, people must realize that everyone’s possessions were given to him by God, and no one has a right to touch any property that is not his.(2)

A silver cup was once stolen from a guest of Mar Zutra. Shortly following the theft, Mar Zutra happened to notice someone washing his hands in preparation for prayer and wiping his hands on a towel that did not belong to him. Recognizing that this act showed a lack of regard for the property of others, Mar Zutra interrogated him concerning the whereabouts of his guest’s cup. The suspect admitted that he was guilty of having stolen the cup. Although that individual had been in the midst of doing a mitzvah, Mar Zutra recognized that his use of another’s belongings without permission was a sign that he had been the perpetrator of the crime.(3)

As soon as someone starts to touch other people’s money, he has planted the seed of full-fledged thievery. If one has even the slightest doubt as to whether taking a certain item would be considered therefore not, Rav Yisrael Salanter has provided us with the general rule: “Taking anything that is not yours is considered theft.”(4)


1. Kli Yakar on Bereshith 7:17.

2. Kli Yakar on Bereshith 6:17.

3. Bava Metzia 24a, according to Lev Eliyahu, Shemoth p. 211.

4. Cited in Pithchei HaChoshen 4:1:1.


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

Noach's Lessons for Our Day
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

Immorality Around Us
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Before It Rains
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Why We Keep Sinning
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

Window to the World
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

The Miracle of Free Will
Rabbi Elly Broch - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Don't Shout at Me!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

A Flood of Something...
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

In a Heartbeat
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

> What a Deal!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Making It Perfect
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

To Share in the Pain of Others
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

ArtScroll

A Wasted Tragedy
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5762

Flooded With Real Ecstasy
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

Not Better or Worse, Just Different
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

Internal Beliefs Have External Effects
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information