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Do Not Steal1 Part 11

It is important to note that just as it is forbidden to steal from a Jew, one may not steal from a non-Jew. This includes acquiring his property or money through deceitful means.

It is strictly prohibited to avoid paying the required fee at an institution, through dishonesty. For example, in many places, such as zoos, and amusement parks, the entrance fee is lower for children under a certain age. It is forbidden to tell the ticket seller that a child is younger than his true age, in order to pay a lower fee.

Similarly, employees often spend the money of their organization for business related reasons. An employee may want to add non-existent expenses to his bill, thereby making some extra money. This is, of course, forbidden.

There are cases when a person may use a friend to help him make or save money in a dishonest fashion. For example, some people have Automobile Association cards that enable them to receive free towing services. One may not use his friend's card in order to benefit from the free service. Moreover, if his friend gives him the card, then he transgresses the prohibition of 'putting a stumbling block in front of a blind person'.[2] This mitzvo prohibits a person from helping or causing others to sin. In this instance, the owner of the card enables his friend to steal the towing costs that he should have paid.

It is also stealing to lie about one's health in order to gain more insurance money. Thus, for example, a person may not lie about his true weight, or deny that he has bad habits such as smoking.

Another example of stealing through deceit occurs when a professional lies to his customer about the hours of work he put into a specific job. For example, a lawyer may charge his client by the hour and predict that the work will take a minimum of 20 hours. In actuality, it only takes him 4 hours. He may rationalize that he may tell his client that he worked from 20.


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

[2] Parshas Kedoshim, 19:14.


 

Text Copyright 2009 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org

Visit Rabbi Gefen's new blog at rabbiygefen.blogspot.com.

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