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Do Not Steal1 Part 7

Thus far, we have seen how it is forbidden to steal from a variety of individuals, including family members. What is the law with regard to taking items or money from institutions or corporations?

The answer is that there is no difference in these laws between stealing from an individual or from a large group. It is forbidden to take food or other items from an institution without permission. A common example of this, is that it is forbidden to take towels and other such items from hotels when one leaves. A person may rationalize that the loss is so small that it does not effect the hotel, or that the hotel expects people to take such items. However, unless they receive explicit permission to take such items, then it is forbidden to do so.

Similarly, many hotels and similar institutions provide food to be eaten on the premises but do not allow guests to take extra food out of the premises. Unless, a person in such an institution has been told that this is permitted, it constitutes stealing.

It is likewise forbidden to steal an item that is owned by many partners. This is true even though the loss to each owner is miniscule. Similarly, one may not steal from a corporation.

One is also forbidden from stealing from a government entity, such as a Federal, state or local government body. For example, one may lie about members of his institution in order to receive additional funding from the government. To do so, constitutes stealing, as well as a desecration of G-d's name (chillul Hashem), whereby people associate Jews with dishonest behavior.

[1]Much of the information for this essay is taken from "Halachos of Other People's Money" by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner.

Text Copyright 2009 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Visit Rabbi Gefen's new blog at



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