Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Do Not Steal, Part 12

In the previous article we discussed various forms of deceit and trickery that constitute stealing. What is the law when money or merchandise is given in error? Is the person ever permitted to keep the money without informing the company or individual of his mistake?

The Talmud tells us that deliberately neglecting to return money given in error is forbidden by three Torah commandments. One of them is the prohibition not to steal. The other two are commandments relating to the obligation to return lost objects - money or items given by mistake fall in the category of lost items that must be returned.[1]

There is much discussion about returning money given in mistake by non-Jews, which is beyond the scope of this column.[2] However, it is important to note that it is highly recommended to always adopt an approach that takes into the consideration that other people will carefully observe view a Jew's actions in monetary matters. By being scrupulously honest, a Jew brings about a kiddush Hashem, (a sanctification of G-d's name) whereby people see the virtuous conduct of the Jewish people. Conversely, being deceitful brings about a chillul Hashem (a desecration of G-d's name).

Rav Pinchos Bodner shlita tells over the following story that demonstrates the importance of being honest, and the way we are viewed by the people around us.

Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky zt"l[3] recounted that when he was a Rabbi in Lithuania before World War 2, he was asked a question by a resident of his community. The man had purchased stamps from the local post office, and had received more stamps that he had paid for. For such a poor man, the extra stamps were no trifle matter. Nonetheless, Rav Kaminetsky suspected that perhaps the postal clerk was testing the rabbi. This suspicion was confirmed a short time later when the clerk gave him too much change. The rabbi returned the extra money. Many years after the Nazis came and destroyed the community, the rabbi heard that this clerk had saved many Jews, testifying that he tested everybody to assess their honesty, the only trustworthy people were the Jews!

This teaches us that in addition to the obligation to be honest and avoid thievery, a Jew must be extra vigilant to bring about a kiddush Hashem.


[1] See gemara, Bava Metsia, 26b.
[2] See Rav Pinchos Bodner, 'Halachos of Other People's Money, p.5-51 for more on this issue.
[3] He was one of the leading Rabbanim in the world in the second half of the 20th century.


Text Copyright 2009 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org

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

Rabbi Gefen's new book, The Guiding Light, is now available! To order, please contact Rabbi Gefen at Gefen123@smile.net.il or 00972 52 761 9935.


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

An Uplifting Experience
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

Lech Lecha
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

The Eternal Port of Entry
Rabbi Label Lam - 5775

ArtScroll

The Standers and the Walkers
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Redefining Pleasure
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

Case Closed
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Grace Saved
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

Better A Second Time Around
Shlomo Katz - 5767

That's Tzedaka!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

> The Lesson of Avraham
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

Exile and Redemption
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

Nowhere Man
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Obstacles and Opportunities
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Defying Natural Order
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

A "Sneak Preview" of History
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

Freedom of Man
Shlomo Katz - 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