This week we continue discussion of the basic aspects of the prohibition of Geneivas Daas. The early authorities argue as to whether the prohibition of ‘geneivas daat’ is from the Torah or the Rabbis. The Ritva brings the opinion of the Tosefta that this is a Torah prohibition and that it is learnt out from the passuk, “Do not steal, do not deny” (Vayikra, 19:11). Many other authorities also hold that geneivas daas is a Torah prohibition. The Shaarei Teshuva, however, writes; The Chachmei Yisrael considered this sin [of geneivat data] to be more severe than stealing from non-Jews.” This implies that this is a rabbinical prohibition because he refers to the Rabbis as the source of the prohibition. The opinion of the Rambam on this matter is unclear.
In contrast, in Hilchot Mechira, the Rambam compares geneivat daat in monetary matters, to onaat devarim and sheker in business (which are Torah prohibitions). From there, it seems that the Rambam holds geneivat data is midoraita.
Therefore, it seems that the Rambam holds that in general, geneivat daat is rabbinical, however, when it involves actual thievery of money, then it is forbidden from the Torah. Some authorities rule this way – that when a loss of money is involved in the geneivas daas then there is a Torah prohibition but if there is no monetary loss, then it is rabinically forbidden.
1. This article is based on a talk given by Rabbi David Genish, Shlita, Rabbi of Kehillat Meam Loez – an English speaking Sefardi shul in Ramat Beit Shemesh – one of the only English Sefardi shuls in the whole of Eretz Yisroel. For more information about the Meam Loez community, email me on: [email protected]
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