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Stealing Torah Thoughts Of Another Person
As we enter the nine days, the culmination of the three weeks, I wanted to focus a little bit more on cases between one person and another, interpersonal things, and their halachos. As well, we made a video a few weeks ago, #86, regarding gezel sheinah, “stealing” someone’s sleep (Click Here For Video Page). In that video we discussed the case of stealing someone’s sleep (against their will) to see if “gezel” or thievery, is the correct classification of the issur/prohibition. We came out that it isn’t actually “stealing”, because we haven’t taken away or withheld something from the person (rather it is classified as damage).
A few people sent in questions about that video, asking why that was not considered stealing when other seemingly similar scenarios are considered stealing. So, I would like to clarify that as well and tie everything in. We will bring a few other cases where you see that it would be called stealing and you would be chayav/liable.
Today, we’re using a sefer called Halachos of Other People’s Money by R’ Yisroel Pinchos Bodner. We can’t fit this all into one video, so we’ll need to split it into two. The first case he brings over here, of actual gezel, is in the case of stealing Divrei Torah, words of Torah thought.
He quotes a Midrash Tanchuma (Bamidbar, siman 22) which says that person who wishes to impart Torah wisdom, Torah thought, and he says it over without crediting the source or the person from whom he got the Torah idea from, then the person is actually guilty of stealing. He brings the Pasuk/source:
“אל תגזל דל כי דל־הוא”
“al tigzal dal ki dal hu”
Interestingly, he says over here that doing it the proper way, and quoting the person/source is a zechus/merit for the person. A person who does quote the source of their Torah thought, it says that they merit that the ge’ulah/redemption of klal Yisrael will come through their hands. He brings the proof from Esther HaMalkah, in the Purim story, where she quoted Mordechai and through her the Jewish Nation was saved.
Now getting back to our original question of why this is any different than stealing someone’s sleep, why is this case classified as actual stealing where the other was not? He brings from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, the explanation, that by the case of saying someone’s Torah thought, you may not have actually taken something from the person, but you have still withheld from them the goodness that can come to them through having their Torah thoughts said in their name. Good things can come out of it being said in their name, and you have now held that back from them. Holding back something that is owed to someone, as we have explained before, is one of the forms of stealing. Therefore, in this case it would be stealing, whereas by the waking against their will, you have neither taken from the person, nor held back what is owed to them, and can therefore not be called stealing (rather classified as damge)
We will continue and finish this topic next time by going through the cases of stealing a greeting as well as stealing through not making brachos/blessings on food before eating. ***
***Please note that these halachos are intended to inform and educate the reader/listener in general. For any specific questions which arise, it is recommended to speak over the exact case with a competent halachic authority in order to assess the halacha accordingly as any small change will greatly affect the final halacha. You can send your questions in to us as well by replying via WhatsApp to our halacha Q & A number on the group, sending an email to Ask@MoneyHalacha.com, or via our contact page at MoneyHalacha.com/contact-us
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