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Dignity & Ownership – On Second Thought

On Second Thought: Delving Into the Sugya with Rabbanit Yafit Clymer

Source Sheet

Bava Kamma 93, 94, 95

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בבא קמא/הדרן/יפית קליימר

מה בין גזילה לגניבה Between Robbing  Stealing


Bava Kamma 79b:3-8


Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to them in response: This one, the robber, equated the honor of the servant to the honor of his Master, and that one, the thief, did not equate the honor of the servant to the honor of his Master. The robber fears neither God nor people, as he is not afraid to rob in public. The thief does not fear God but he does fear other people, which demonstrates that he is more concerned about humans than God. 


ויקרא י״ט:י״א

(יא) לֹ֖א תִּגְנֹ֑בוּ וְלֹא־תְכַחֲשׁ֥וּ וְלֹֽא־תְשַׁקְּר֖וּ אִ֥ישׁ בַּעֲמִיתֽוֹ׃ 

Leviticus 19:11

(11) You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another. 


ויקרא י״ט:י״ג

(יג) לֹֽא־תַעֲשֹׁ֥ק אֶת־רֵֽעֲךָ֖ וְלֹ֣א תִגְזֹ֑ל לֹֽא־תָלִ֞ין פְּעֻלַּ֥ת שָׂכִ֛יר אִתְּךָ֖ עַד־בֹּֽקֶר׃ 

Leviticus 19:13

(13) You shall not defraud your fellow. You shall not commit robbery. The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning. 


Mishneh Torah, Theft 1:2 רמב”ם

(2) According to the law of the Torah, it is forbidden to steal the smallest amount. It is likewise forbidden to steal in jest, or to steal with the intention of returning the object or paying for it. All this is forbidden, lest one may become addicted to it


Mishneh Torah, Theft 5:1

(1) It is forbidden to buy from a thief anything he has stolen; it is a grave sin, since one encourages criminals thereby, inducing a thief to commit other thefts. If he finds no customer, he will not steal. Relative to this it is written: “The partner of a thief is his own enemy” (Proverbs 29:24) 


Sefer HaChinukh 228:1

(1) To not oppress: To not hold on to that which is in our hand of someone else’s by way of force or delay or deception – like delinquents who delay people, saying, “Go and return,” so as to cause that what is in their hand of someone else’s to remain with them. And this is an extremely bad trait, and [so] our perfect Torah distanced us from it and warned us about it in this place, as it is written (Leviticus 19:13), “You shall not oppress your neighbor” – as one who holds the money of someone else in this manner that we said is called an oppressor… And even though oppression, robbery and theft are one matter even if the act of one is different from the another, as the intention of the three of them is that a man not take that which is someone else’s in any way; since people pilfer each other in these three ways, Scripture specified all of them and warned about each one on its own”. 

Shulchan Arukh, Choshen Mishpat 359:1

(1) It’s forbidden to steal or exploit (even) any amount, whether from a Jew or a non-Jew; And if it is an object that is not concerning, it is permitted; such as to take from the package or [taking a splinter] from the fence to brush his teeth with; and even this is prohibited by the Jeruselamite (Talmud), as a quality of fervency

Shulchan Arukh, Choshen Mishpat 359:3,4,5

(3) Anyone who steals from his friend, even a penny-worth, is considered as having taken his soul 

(4) Even if he’s in dire danger and needs to steal from his friend in order to save his soul, he should not take it unless with the intent to pay

(5) Even the one who takes via borrowing, without the knowledge of the owners, is called a thief 


Egrot Tzafun 11:3


Mishpatim. — Judgments or Principles of Justice

The first requisite is, Justice! Respect every being around thee and all that is in thee as the creation of thy God; everything belonging to them as given them by God or in accordance with law which He has sanctioned. Leave willingly to each being that which it is justly entitled to call its own. Be not as regards aught a curse. Especially honor every human being as thy equal, regard him in his essence, that is to say, in his invisible personality, in his bodily envelope and in his life. Extend the same regard to his artificially enlarged body, his property; to the demands which he may be entitled to make upon you for assistance by grants of property or acts of physical strength; in measure and number; in recompense of injury to his person or possessions. Have regard, also, to his rightful claim of truth; of liberty, happiness, and peace of mind, of honor and undisturbed tranquility. Do not abuse his weakness of heart, mind, or body; do not unjustly employ thy legal power over him.

Rabbanit Yafit Clymer

Rabbanit Yafit Clymer is a senior lecturer in Jewish Studies at the several Matan learning centers, at 'Emunah' and WebYeshiva. She is a group instructor for various programs. Rabbanit Clymer is part of the steering committee of the 'Beit Hillel' organization and answers halachic questions online as a part of their Meshivat Nefesh project.
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