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Thought for the Day: Stealing Is Forbidden By The Torah; Even If People Don't Call It Stealing

In the summer of 2011 CE, R' Fuerst gave a series of shiurim on the details of the issur of stealing.  Nine shiurim.  Nine.  On stealing.  One of the 10 commandments [sic] says: "Thou shalt not steal."  Seems pretty clear right?  Just don't do it.  So why do I need nine shiurim?  Hah!  You only thought you knew what stealing was.

How about this one?  Suppose you have a grandson who is three but could pass for two (I wouldn't know, my grandsons tend to be tall and talkative, so we have enough trouble when they are two convincing people they are only two).  Or your son just turned 13 (Mazal Tov!), but still looks 12.  The place you are going has a different price for under three and under 13, so you figure you'll just lie about their ages and save a few bucks.  Sorry: gezel mi'di'oraisa -- straight out theft.  The Torah doesn't differentiate between grand and petty theft.  Gezel is gezel.  In fact, small thievery may even be worse that bank robbery.  Most people aren't, after all, going to rob a bank; and anyone who does certainly knows it is wrong.  Petty thievery, however, seems innocuous and so people can convince themselves it is ok, which leads to ingraining the sin of theft deeply into one's soul.

But it gets worse.  Suppose you go to a fancy store to get a $1,500.00 gown to wear to a wedding, which you plan to return the next day.  You have no intention whatsoever of buying the gown, you are careful with it, you return it in precisely as good a condition as when you took it.  Still gezel m'di'oraisa.  It is so common in some areas that the sales ladies say, "Mazal Tov; see you tomorrow!" when Jews "buy" gowns.  And that is much, much worse... that's a chillul HaShem.

Speaking of chillul HaShem and stealing, here's another one.  We have parking meters along Devon and those parking meters are run by a private company that contracts that right from the city.  Parking in that space -- even for three minutes to just run in -- is stealing; gezel mi'di'oraisa.  "Hang on," you will opine, "three minutes of parking is worth less than a shaveh p'ruta!"  Let's say it is; chatzi shiur assur mi'di'oraisa.  You didn't get yourself out of anything with that one.  Worse (much, much worse, actually) is that the company will say, "You know Jews... they are always looking for way to work the system."

Why is the Torah so strict about this?  Great question.  We'll talk about that; b'ezras HaShem.

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