Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Crime and Punishment

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

The world was corrupt in front of God and the land was filled with crime. (Bereshith 6:11)

Although the generation of the flood committed numerous sins, the primary “crime” for which they were eradicated was that of theft.(1) Why is this transgression singled out as the reason for the punishment? Faith in God is a foundation of the Torah, and someone who steals shows complete lack of trust in God.(2) Therefore, stealing is like transgressing the entire Torah.(3)

The word “stealing” conjures up a picture of a mugger holding someone at gunpoint. Although most people are not involved with such theft, the majority of individuals nonetheless transgress the laws prohibiting theft. (4) Therefore, when the Torah prohibits stealing money, it is written in the plural, to show that everyone must take special precautions to guard themselves from this particular transgression.(5) This is in contrast to the Ten Commandments, in which the prohibition against stealing people (kidnapping) is written in the singular, for very few people reach such a level of corruption.(6)

The Torah prohibition of theft applies regardless whether one steals from a Jew or non-Jew.(7) If stealing would lead to a desecration of God’s name, then stealing from a non-Jew is viewed as more serious an offense than stealing from a Jew.(8) Consequently, the punishment for doing so is very severe, and money accrued via such means is quickly lost. In one instance an individual who stole from a non-Jew was punished through the death of his children. Since all of his children died immediately after they married, he lost the stolen money as well, for all the money he had given to each child was left with the family of that child’s spouse.(9)


1. Sanhedrin 108a as cited by Rashi.

2. Rabbeinu Bachyeh, beginning of Parshas Beshalach.

3. Kad Hakemach of Rabbeinu Bachyeh (Gezel).

4. Bava Bathra 165a.

5. Vayikra 19:11.

6. Vilna Gaon, Sefer HaLikutim 2:20b.

7. See Rambam, Laws of Theft (gezeilah) 1:1; Smag, Second Negative Commandment; Shulchan Aruch 348:2; Maharshal, Yam Shel Shlomo, Bava Kama 10:20; Aruch HaShulchan, Choshen Mishpat 348:2.

8. Tosefta Bava Kama 10:8.

9. Sefer Chasidim 661.


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


 

ARTICLES ON EIKEV:

View Complete List

Torah - What Is It Worth To You?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Rabbi Frand on Eikev
- 5768

Manna From Heaven
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

> When Serving Dinner
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

All will be Set Right
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

O'er the Ramparts We Watched
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Living Land
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Everything
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

No Easy Matter
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

ArtScroll

The Small Things
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

All But One
Rabbi Label Lam - 5761

Doing Our Part
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

It's Our Home
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

Healing and Sensitivity
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

The Summary of All Fear
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Emulate G-d, Again and Again!
Shlomo Katz - 5761



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