Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: As Bad As a Thief and Robber Are... There Is Redemption

The Torah is much kinder to r'shaim that have an understandable reason for their evil doings.  As Shlomo HaMelech tells us (Mishlei, 6; y own so free translation, as if you couldn't tell...):
ל:  לֹא-יָבוּזוּ לַגַּנָּב, כִּי יִגְנוֹב--    לְמַלֵּא נַפְשׁוֹ, כִּי יִרְעָב
לא: וְנִמְצָא, יְשַׁלֵּם שִׁבְעָתָיִם:    אֶת-כָּל-הוֹן בֵּיתוֹ יִתֵּן.
30: Do not despise the thief; he steals to fill his soul, which is hungry.
31: When found he will repay sevenfold; his entire fortune may need to give.
The G"ra explains both why the Torah does not want you to despise someone for stealing.  A person only steals for one of two reasons.  One, he does not have enough to eat; his life is at stake.  That does not excuse the stealing, but it makes it understandable.  The second reason is because he wants something that he doesn't have; he needs it.  As noted, halacha even allows burial to be delayed in case the grave diggers are hungry for chameitz on erev Pesach and they would not be able to have that chameitz if they bury the meis first.  Again, therefore, the real needs of the thief, even though they do not justify stealing, they make it understandable.

The G"ra further explains the "sevenfold" repayment.  There are seven kinds of thievery: (1) admitting the theft and returning the item (or its value); (2) not admitting the theft and having to pay double; (3) stealing a ram and slaughtering or selling it (repayment times four); (4) stealing an ox and slaughtering or selling it (repayment times five); (5) stealing an item entrusted to the thief; (6) stealing from a trustee; (7) kidnapping.

Another way of counting that G"ra uses to explain the שִׁבְעָתָיִם/"sevenfold" (a sort of doubling) is: repayment of 4 or 5 -- that's 9; add keifel (double payment as fine) -- that's 11; there are three ways to repay the principle: the item itself, the value of the item, selling one's self into indentured servitude to get the money to repay the victim -- that's another three; which all adds up to 14.

Finally, a thief might indeed need to give up his entire fortune, which actually means his portion in olam habah (the only real fortune any of us have, by they way).  If that happens, he'll need to come back as a gilgul to create another portion for himself.  Not great, but at least there is a chance.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…