Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Do Not Steal Part 2

By Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen

There are a number of Mitzvot in the Torah that relate to stealing. The most well-known source is found in the 'Ten Commandments'; The Torah commands us, "Do not steal (loh tignov)-1 " It is less well-known that in Parshas Kedoshim, the Torah further commands us, Do not steal -2. " The Talmud explains that the Torah is teaching two separate kinds of stealing; the stealing referred to in the 'Ten Commandments' actually relates to kidnapping a person-3 . In contrast, the stealing discussed in Parshas Kedoshim, refers to stealing the property or money of another person. The Rabbis explain that the hebrew word used for stealing in this verse, (the root of the word is 'gonev') means one specific kind of stealing - stealing in secret, where nobody else is present-4 . An example of this is if one burgles a home whilst no-one is home.

Two verses later, the Torah tells us yet again not to steal (lon tigzol- 5) . However, on this occasion it uses a different hebrew word, whose root is 'gezel'. The Rabbis explain that this word describes stealing openly. For example, one who robs a bank in the presence of others, is guilty of 'gezel'.

If a person was asked, which is the more severe kind of stealing, stealing in secret or stealing openly, he would likely say that stealing openly is worse. However, the Rabbis tell us that stealing in secret is more severe - why is this the case? They explain that a thief demonstrates a blatant disregard for the will of Hashem, because he flagrantly disregards the commandments to not steal. When this thief steals in public, he shows that he similarly has not regard for the opinions of other people. He feels no concern that they will view him in a degrading fashion. In contrast, a thief who only steals in secret, demonstrates that he fears the opinion of other people. Thus, he shows a strong element of hypocrisy - he fears the opinion of other people, but has no regard for the opinion of Hashem. The open thief is, at least consistent in his disregard for what both Hashem and other people think of him.

The final form of stealing described in the Torah is known as ‘oshek’ - this is translated as cheating others. It refers to when a person refuses to pay someone who has loaned him money, or who has given him services of merchandise. Oshek is considered to be no less severe than actively taking something away from one’s fellow.


1- Parshas Yisro, 20:13
2-Kedoshim, 19:11.
3-Sanhedrin, 86a - see there for an elaboration of the prohibition of kidnapping and for an explanation as to how the Rabbis came to the conclusion that the stealing here only refers to kidnapping.
4-Bava Kamma, 79b.
5-Kedoshim, 19:13.


Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org Visit Rabbi Gefen's new blog at rabbiygefen.blogspot.com.


 






ARTICLES ON TOLDOS:

View Complete List

Yaakov and Eisav Go Separate Ways
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Waiting for the Redemption
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

Inreach + Outreach = Yakov
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

ArtScroll

No Contradiction
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

A Burning Heart
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Esav! Have You Forgetten So Fast?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Worse than Color Blind
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

DeGeneration
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Look, Twins!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Following In His Father
- 5769

A Smart Bracha
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

Raising Perfect Children?
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5775

> A Meal for Eisav... a Fork for Ya'akov
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Why the Bicycle Riders?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

The Search for Blessings
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

The Power of the Voice
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760



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