Translation:Shulchan Aruch/Choshen Mishpat/348

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Paragraph 1- One is biblically prohibited from even stealing a minute amount. One is prohibited from stealing as a joke, and even with the condition to give it back, pay double or just to cause the other pain. All of this is prohibited so that he not become accustomed to it.

Paragraph 2- Anyone who steals violates the prohibition of “do not steal,” even if it just a perutah, and would be obligated to pay back. This applies regardless of whether he stole the money of a Jew or the money of a gentile and whether he stole from an adult or a minor. Misleading an idolater, such as misleading him in the accounting or avoiding repaying his loan, is permitted so long as he doesn’t know so that there is no desecration of God’s name. There are those who say one is prohibited from misleading him and only if the idolater made the mistake on his own would it be permitted.

Paragraph 3- What is a thief? One who takes money secretly and the owner is unaware. If he took the money out in the open and publicly, however, he is not a thief but a robber.

Paragraph 4- As soon as the thief pulls the stolen item, he becomes a thief on it. When is this true? Where he pulled it outside the owner’s domain. So long as the item is in the owner’s domain, however, the thief would not be liable unless he lifts it. If the thief brought the item into his guarded possession, he would be liable, even if it was to his roof, courtyard or backyard and even if he did not pull or lift it. As for when a thief is liable to pay double or four or five times the stolen amount, look it up. The Mechaber did not discuss it because it is a penalty, which we do not deal with today. It does make a difference, however, in a case where the victim seized. See above 1:5.

Paragraph 5- When it comes to repaying theft, if the thief has movable items, we would go down to them. If he does not have movable items, but only real property, we would go down to them and collect from the superior properties, just like other torts cases.

Paragraph 6- If one stole and lifted the stolen item, and another came to assist him in bringing it from there, the second individual would be exempt.

Paragraph 7- If Reuven saw Shimon enter Levi’s home and steal an item, and that item ended up in Reuven’s possession, and Reuven returned it to Shimon, Levi would not be able to remove it from him in court. This is only where Shimon had some kind of claim against Levi. If he has no claim against him, however, and Shimon simply stole from him, and Reuven is aware of this and returned it to Shimon the thief, he would be required to pay Levi because he should have returned the lost item to its owner.

Paragraph 8- If Reuven made a claim against Shimon that he entered his room and stole his books and removed them from his domain, and Shimon responds that it is true that he took them but what happened was is that Shimon’s relative, who was Reuven’s daughter-in-law, asked me to take them because she was unable to lift them, and I did not know they belonged to you, nor did I lift them, but she lifted them and gave them to me, Shimon would be required to return them, because what business did he have entering Reuven’s room to take books? It is clear that his intent was to help her steal from her father-in-law. With respect to that which he claims that she lifted them and gave them to him, he is still claiming that they were his and she couldn’t lift them, which means she could not take them out without his assistance, so it is as if he took them out. Reuven would collect from whichever one he wants; from his daughter-in-law, who admits she has possession of the books, or from Shimon, if he prefers. Similarly, if the thief hid the stolen item and he needed to leave the city but was unable to move the stolen item so he sent another person to bring the stolen item to him, the agent would be liable because he is the primary thief given that he knew it was stolen. If one directs another what to seal or sends him to steal, the sender is not liable because there is no agency when it comes to a sin. If the agent is not a party capable of being liable, however, there are those who say the sender is liable. See Even HaEzer Siman 86 for a case where a woman sold or gave as collateral and the husband claims it was stolen from him.