The Prohibition of Stealing from a Minor and a Gentile
- The Torah forbids stealing. This prohibition applies also to stealing from
a minor or a gentile if his ownership of the object was confirmed by the
person from whom it was acquired. Accordingly, the Biblical prohibition
would not apply to an object found by a minor or a gentile. But we are
commanded to conduct ourselves in the ways of peace. Therefore, even to
steal from them an object that they found is forbidden.
- It often happens that a cheder rebbe finds it necessary to take an object
away from a student who is using it to be disruptive. Even though stealing
from minors is forbidden and, indeed, the object may belong to the
student’s father, it seems that the rebbe may confiscate it as long as he
intends to return it, even after a long time. It is forbidden for him to
take an object from a student and destroy it or to take it with no intention
of returning it.
- The Torah forbids stealing from a gentile, even if it will not cause chilul
Hashem. The stolen object of a gentile must not be used to establish a
marital bond. If it is, the marriage is not valid.
- In a state whose laws do not distinguish between Jews and gentiles, it is
forbidden to lie in filling out forms for the government, insurance
companies, etc. in order to avoid paying what is due by law or to extract
money by deceit.
- A merchant once confessed to Eliyahu Hanavi that he had deceived a gentile
and cheated him by giving him less than he had paid for. With the money he
had received in payment, he had bought an urn of oil, which subsequently
fell and broke. Eliahu Hanavi said, Blessed is “Hamakom” (Hashem)
who does not show favoritism, as it is written, “Do not oppress your
companion and do not steal, etc.” (Tana Dvei Eliahu Rabba 15). From
the above we learn that stealing from a gentile is included in the Torah
prohibition of stealing.