Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Do Not Steal1 Part 20

Last week we began discussion of the laws of how to rectify an act of stealing. In this week's article we continue in that vein.

If one stole a specific item then he must return the item itself, it is insufficient to pay the value of the item to the victim and keep it for oneself. If however, the rightful owner is prepared to accept money instead of the item, then the guilty party may pay the item's value to the owner, and keep it for himself.

If the item is no longer extant, then one must compensate the victim by paying for it. These laws apply equally to one who steals from non-Jews.

If a person stole something before the age of legal responsibility (according to Torah law - 12 for a woman and 13 for a man) then he is not required to compensate the victim. However, if he still possesses the item after he becomes 13 (or the female becomes 12) then he must return it.

The laws of returning stolen objects apply equally to the case of a child (above the age of legal responsibility) who stole from his parents. He must return the item to his parents or inform them of what he stole and ask them to explicitly forgive him and absolve him of payment. He may not presume that his parents automatically forgive him unless they say so.

The victim of thievery has the right to pardon the thief by saying that he totally forgives him. This exempts the person from having to return the item. Nevertheless, he still must undergo the process of repentance.[2] There are common cases where small amounts are stolen, such as when a friend borrows money and carelessly forgets that he owes it.[3] In such cases, the victim is entitled to insist that the money is returned, however it is praiseworthy for him to pardon his friend. The Rabbis teach us that the Heavenly Court deals with us measure for measure in the way that we deal with other people. If we forgive those who have wronged us even though they are deserving of retribution, then the Heavenly Court will act the same way with regards to our wrongdoings.


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

[2] See 'Do Not Steal', Part 19 for more on how to repent for the sin of stealing.

[3] In such a case, refusing to pay back the loan does constitute stealing.


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 VAYIGASH AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

A Double Loss!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Three Steps Forward Before Praying Three Examples
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

The World of Learning
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

> A Torah Perspective
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Light From Darkness, Take Two
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Staying Connected
Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Little Light Chases Away a Lot of Darkness
Rabbi Label Lam - 5760

They Weren't Just Learning Eglah Arufah By Coincidence
- 5770

Enlightening the Present From the Past
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Every Little Bit Counts
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5763

Missing Persons
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

Feel My Pain
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

ArtScroll

To Live in Harmony During Peaceful Times
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

The Power of Truth
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5763

Confrontation
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

Majesty Resides Within!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765



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