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Thought for the Day: Correcting a Wrong Takes Common Sense

Overheard in nursery by new father that had just been brought a white baby that the nurses claimed was his: "No, no, and no!  My wife and I are Chinese, and everyone knows that two Wongs don't make a white!"  (Wow... that is so totally not PC!  Especially now that we know that there are no absolutes... race, gender, even species, I suppose are all just point on a spectrum.)  Three rights do, however, make a left.  Moreover, two Wrights do make an airplane.  We all know, though, that two wrongs definitely do not make a right.  (Sorry!  I just cannot quell that 10 year old boy in me.  I suppose I should also apologize that neither do I have any desire to quell him.)

Let's make no mistake about it: stealing is bad; very, very bad.  Our sages tell us that the fate of Sodom was not sealed until they started stealing from each other in a way that was not punishable (the value of each theft was too small to prosecute).  What about a wife stealing from her husband?  That seems worse, no?  I mean... what kind of marriage is that!?

A very good one, actually.  Moreover, it's not stealing.  Moreover it is being sneaky to preserve a basically sound marriage and a wonderful home for several children.  Moreover it was entirely executed under rabbinic supervision.

A young woman came to her rav with the following back story.  She loved her husband; he was a very good provider and father; he had good character traits, davened regularly, and had time set aside each week for learning Torah.  With all that, he had a flaw that was causing her emotional distress and anxiety.  He worked as a manager in a local grocery store; he was a hard worker and well liked at work by colleagues and bosses alike.  What could possibly be wrong?  He brought home left over/extra chickens from work.  She was distraught that she we eating and feeding to her family stolen meat for Shabbos.

In fact, he had started as a manager in the fish department.  When he brought home extra/leftover fish, she sat down and spoke with him.  However, he felt justified in taking the fish because he was a hard worker and gave them more than their money's worth.  She was not able to change his mind and was fearful that it would become a shalom bayis issue.  She had an idea, though.  She privately spoke to her husband's manager and told him that she was particularly sensitive to smells and that the strong smell of his clothing was very difficult for her.  He was very understanding and agreed to take care of things.  That's when he transferred her husband to the chicken department.  Obviously, she cannot speak again to the store manager.

Her question was simple.  She sees no other path but to quietly steal money from her husband's wallet and pay for the chickens.  Before she did that, however; she went to the rav.  Stealing is, after all, a very serious offense.  The rav told her that stealing is never justified; but, in fact, that would not be stealing.  Since the chickens were taken without permission, he actually owed the money to the store.  She was simply paying his debts.  Since a Jewish soul always yearns to do the right thing, in fact -- even though our evil inclination sometimes prevents us from acting on the desire.

We live in a society that screams at us to stridently do what we think is right; scorners (who obviously misunderstand our one true way) be damned.  That is not Torah way.  אמת means that which is done for right reasons to achieve a laudable result.  שקר is the opposite.  She first gently approached her husband directly.  When that failed, she tried a mild subterfuge.  When that didn't work she went to the rav for דעת תורה/da'as Torah/insight molded by the Creator.  That's not just how a Jew lives, that's why we are in this world.

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