Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Rightfully Mine

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

And there was a quarrel between the herdsmen of Avram and the herdsmen of Lot. And the Canaanites and the Perizites were then living in the land. (Bereshith 13:7)

Lot’s herdsmen were wicked, and allowed their cattle to graze in others’ fields. When Avraham’s herdsmen rebuked them they responded, “This land has been given to Avraham. Since he has no heir, Lot is his heir, so this is not robbery at all!” However, the Torah makes it clear that Avraham was not yet entitled to possession of the land, for it states that the Canaanites and the Perizites were still living in the land.(1)

Some people are scrupulous about theft from non-relatives, but when it comes to family members, anything goes!(2) In truth, even if one is a rightful heir to another’s property, he has no right to take it. Being a future inheritor does not make the property yours now. An estate remains exclusively the property of the original owner as long as he is alive. One who takes something that is bequeathed to him while the owner is alive has violated the prohibition of theft.(3) What’s more, he is even worse than a normal thief as the verse in Mishlei says, “Someone who steals from his father and mother and denies that he has committed a crime is a companion of vandals.”(4) This is because he should be doing the opposite: safeguarding his parents’ money and honoring them with his own money.(5)

We must be especially careful about items we feel are “coming to us.” If someone accustoms himself to taking things he feels he has a right to, he can easily fall into theft. Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky were both heads of their respective yeshivahs and leaders of their generation. They certainly should have been entitled to enjoy the fringe benefits that were associated with running their yeshivahs. Yet they were so concerned with avoiding taking anything that was not theirs that they each made sure to pay for every meal they ate in their own yeshivah.(6) How careful must we be about helping ourselves to someone else’s property! Before we decide that something is coming to us, we must first ask the owner.


1. Rashi on Bereshith 13:7. See also Minchath Shai, p. 20 in the name of Rav Meshulam Dovid Solevetchik who notes that even if they had been correct that Lot would inherit from Avraham, this logic would not have made the propety theirs, for it only becomes the property of the inheritor after the death of the relative.

2. Pele Yo’etz.

3. Maharsha Brachoth 35. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 182.

4. Mishlei 28:24.

5. Malbim ibid.

6. Rav Moshe, p. 108.


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


 






ARTICLES ON TOLDOS:

View Complete List

DeGeneration
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

A Twin Study....
Rabbi Label Lam - 5758

Eretz Yisrael: Land of Mitzvos
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5769

ArtScroll

Don't be Deceived, Or Deceitful
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

People Only Contemplate Life When Dying
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

Appreciating the Value of Our Blessings
Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden - 5762

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

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

How About Them Apples?
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

We Have No 'Rights'
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

> Removing the Tags
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

The Spur of the Moment
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

In the Face of Adversity
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

Looking for a Chavrusah?

100% for the Sake of Heaven
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Try, Try Again
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5765

The Search for Blessings
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Esav's Game
Shlomo Katz - 5762



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