ב"ה

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Genevah - Chapter Five

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Genevah - Chapter Five

1

It is forbidden to buy a stolen article from a thief. This is a severe sin, for it reinforces a transgressor and motivates him to steal in the future. For if he did not find a person who would purchase a stolen article from him, he would not steal. With reference to this, Proverbs 29:24 states: "A person who shares profits with a thief hates his own soul."

א

אָסוּר לִקְנוֹת מִן הַגַּנָּב הַחֵפֶץ שֶׁגָּנַב. וְעָוֹן גָּדוֹל הוּא שֶׁהֲרֵי מַחֲזִיק יְדֵי עוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵרָה וְגוֹרֵם לוֹ לִגְנֹב גְּנֵבוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת שֶׁאִם לֹא יִמְצָא לוֹקֵחַ אֵינוֹ גּוֹנֵב וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (משלי כט כד) "חוֹלֵק עִם גַּנָּב שׂוֹנֵא נַפְשׁוֹ":

2

When a thief steals and sells the stolen article before the owner despairs of its return, the thief is discovered, and witnesses come and testify that so and so stole this particular article in their presence, the stolen article shall be returned to its owner. The owner must reimburse the purchaser for the money that he paid the thief. This measure was ordained to enable uninhibited trade in the marketplace. The owner then sues the thief for the money he paid.

If the thief's reputation was known, our Sages did not ordain any leniency. The owner is not required to pay the purchaser anything, and instead, the purchaser must sue the thief and collect the money he paid from him.

ב

הַגּוֹנֵב וּמָכַר וְלֹא נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים וְאַחַר כָּךְ הֻכַּר הַגַּנָּב וּבָאוּ עֵדִים שֶׁזֶּה הַחֵפֶץ שֶׁמְּכָרוֹ פְּלוֹנִי זֶה הוּא גְּנָבוֹ בְּפָנֵינוּ. חוֹזֵר הַחֵפֶץ לִבְעָלָיו וְהַבְּעָלִים נוֹתְנִין לַלּוֹקֵחַ דָּמִים שֶׁשָּׁקַל לַגַּנָּב מִפְּנֵי תַּקָּנַת הַשּׁוּק. וְהַבְּעָלִים חוֹזְרִין וְעוֹשִׂים דִּין עִם הַגַּנָּב. וְאִם גָּנַב מְפֻרְסָם הוּא לֹא עָשׂוּ בּוֹ תַּקָּנַת הַשּׁוּק וְאֵין הַבְּעָלִים נוֹתְנִין לַלּוֹקֵחַ כְּלוּם אֶלָּא חוֹזֵר הַלּוֹקֵחַ וְעוֹשֶׂה דִּין עִם הַגַּנָּב וּמוֹצִיא מִמֶּנּוּ דָּמִים שֶּׁשָּׁקַל לוֹ:

3

Different laws apply when the owner despairs of the article's return, regardless of whether he despairs before the thief sold the article or afterwards. The purchaser acquires the article because of the owner's despair and the transfer from one domain to another. He is not required to return the article itself; instead, he must reimburse the owner if he purchased the article from a thief whose reputation was well known.

If the thief was not known to steal, the purchaser is neither required to give the owner the article, nor to reimburse him. This was ordained to enable uninhibited trade in the marketplace.

ג

נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים מִן הַגְּנֵבָה בֵּין שֶׁנִּתְיָאֲשׁוּ וְאַחַר כָּךְ מָכַר הַגַּנָּב בֵּין שֶׁנִּתְיָאֲשׁוּ אַחַר שֶׁמָּכַר. קָנָה הַלּוֹקֵחַ בְּיֵאוּשׁ וְשִׁנּוּי רְשׁוּת וְאֵינוֹ מַחְזִיר הַגְּנֵבָה עַצְמָהּ לִבְעָלֶיהָ אֶלָּא נוֹתֵן לָהֶם הַדָּמִים אִם לָקַח מִגַּנָּב מְפֻרְסָם. אוֹ אֵינוֹ נוֹתֵן כְּלָל לֹא חֵפֶץ וְלֹא דָּמִים מִפְּנֵי תַּקָּנַת הַשּׁוּק אִם לֹא הָיָה זֶה הַמּוֹכֵר גַּנָּב מְפֻרְסָם:

4

The following rule applies when the purchaser sues the original owner for the return of the money he spent. If there are no witnesses who can testify regarding the price, the trader must take an oath while holding a sacred article, stating the price he paid. He then collects this sum from the original owner.

Whenever a person takes an oath before he collects, the oath is a Rabbinical ordinance. He must take the oath while holding a sacred article, as will be explained in the appropriate place.

ד

בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַלּוֹקֵחַ עוֹשֶׂה דִּין עִם בַּעַל הַבַּיִת. אִם אֵין עֵדִים בְּכַמָּה לָקַח הֲרֵי הַתַּגָּר נִשְׁבָּע בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ בְּכַמָּה לָקַח וְנוֹטֵל מִן הַבְּעָלִים. וְכָל הַנִּשְׁבָּע וְנוֹטֵל שְׁבוּעָתוֹ מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם וְנִשְׁבָּע בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ:

5

If, when the purchaser sues the thief for the return of his money, the thief claims that he received a lesser sum, the trader must take an oath while holding a sacred article. He may then collect this sum from the thief. He is required to take the oath because the thief is not given the option of taking the oath, since we suspect that he will take a false oath.

ה

בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַלּוֹקֵחַ עוֹשֶׂה דִּין עִם הַגַּנָּב וְהוּא אוֹמֵר בְּכָךְ וְכָךְ לָקַחְתִּי מִמְּךָ וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא מָכַרְתִּי לְךָ אֶלָּא בְּפָחוֹת מִזֶּה. הַתַּגָּר נִשְׁבָּע בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ וְנוֹטֵל מִן הַגַּנָּב. שֶׁאֵין הַגַּנָּב יָכוֹל לִשָּׁבַע מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא חָשׁוּד עַל הַשְּׁבוּעָה:

6

If a thief stole and gave the stolen article as payment for a loan or as payment for a debt owed a merchant, our Sages did not ordain any leniency to encourage trading. Instead, the owner of the article shall take his article back from the thief's creditor without paying him, and the thief remains responsible for the debt as before.

When the stolen article was given as surety for a loan, regardless of whether the loan was given for more or less than the worth of the article, the original owner shall pay the person holding the surety and then sue the thief for the money, unless the reputation of the thief was public knowledge, as explained above.

ו

גָּנַב וּפָרַע בְּחוֹבוֹ גָּנַב וּפָרַע בְּהֶקֵּפוֹ אֵין בָּזֶה תַּקָּנַת הַשּׁוּק אֶלָּא הַבְּעָלִים נוֹטְלִים הַגְּנֵבָה בְּלֹא דָּמִים וְיִשָּׁאֵר חוֹב אֵלּוּ עַל הַגַּנָּב כְּשֶׁהָיָה. מִשְׁכֵּן הַגְּנֵבָה בֵּין שֶׁמִּשְׁכְּנָהּ בְּיֶתֶר עַל דָּמֶיהָ אוֹ בְּפָחוֹת מִדָּמֶיהָ הַבְּעָלִים נוֹתְנִין לְבַעַל הַמַּשְׁכּוֹן וְחוֹזְרִין וְעוֹשִׂין דִּין עִם הַגַּנָּב אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה הַגַּנָּב מְפֻרְסָם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

7

When a person purchased a stolen article from a thief whose reputation is not public knowledge, he is entitled to collect the amount he paid from the original owner. Only then must he return the stolen article.

This applies regardless of whether he paid 100 zuz for an article worth 200, or 200 zuz for an article worth 100. Our Sages ordained this rule to allow for uninhibited trade, as explained above.

ז

הַלּוֹקֵחַ מִגַּנָּב שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְפֻרְסָם בֵּין שֶׁלָּקַח מִמֶּנּוּ שְׁוֵה מֵאָה בְּמָאתַיִם אוֹ שְׁוֵה מָאתַיִם בְּמֵאָה הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹטֵל הַדָּמִים מִבַּעַל הַבַּיִת וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַחְזִיר הַגְּנֵבָה מִפְּנֵי תַּקָּנַת הַשּׁוּק כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

8

The original owner is not required to reimburse the recipient of the stolen article in the following situation. A person was owed 100 zuz by a thief. The thief stole an article and gave it to his creditor, who gave the thief another 100 zuz. The stolen article must be returned to its original owner, and we tell the creditor: "Demand payment for 200 zuz from the thief. For you did not give him the second hundred only because of the article that he gave you. Just as you trusted him with regard to the first hundred, so too, you trusted him with regard to the second."

ח

הָיָה נוֹשֶׁה בְּגַנָּב מֵאָה זוּז וְגָנַב וְהֵבִיא לְבַעַל חוֹבוֹ וְנָתַן לוֹ מֵאָה אַחֶרֶת הֲרֵי הַגְּנֵבָה חוֹזֶרֶת לִבְעָלֶיהָ וְאוֹמְרִין לָזֶה לֵךְ וּתְבַע הַגַּנָּב בְּמָאתַיִם שֶׁלֹּא נָתַתָּ לוֹ הַמֵּאָה הָאַחֶרֶת מִפְּנֵי הַחֵפֶץ שֶׁהֵבִיא לְךָ בִּלְבַד כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהֶאֱמַנְתּוֹ בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה הֶאֱמַנְתּוֹ בָּאַחֲרוֹנָה:

9

Torah law does not allow profit to be made from the sale of a stolen article. For example, if a person purchased a stolen article from a thief whose reputation was not public knowledge, for 100 zuz and sold it to a colleague for 120, and afterwards the thief was apprehended, the original owner must pay the second purchaser 120 zuz. He then may take his article. Afterwards, he shall be reimbursed for 20 zuz by the seller and then collect 100 zuz from the thief.

If the reputation of the thief was public knowledge, the original owner shall pay the second purchaser 120 zuz and collect that amount from the trader who purchased the article from the thief. The trader shall then collect the principal, 100 zuz, from the thief.

The same principles apply if the second purchaser sold the stolen article to a third, or the third to a fourth. Even if the stolen article changed hands one hundred times. The final purchaser is reimbursed completely by the owner, who takes the profit from each of the middle men and collects the principal from the thief. All of this applies before the owner despaired of the return of the stolen article, as we have explained.

ט

לָקַח מִגַּנָּב שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְפֻרְסָם בְּמֵאָה וּמָכַר לְאַחֵר בְּמֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים וְהֻכַּר הַגַּנָּב. בַּעַל הַגְּנֵבָה נוֹתֵן לְזֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים וְנוֹטֵל גְּנֵבָתוֹ וְחוֹזֵר הַבַּעַל וְנוֹטֵל עֶשְׂרִים שֶׁל שָׂכָר מִן הַמּוֹכֵר וְנוֹטֵל הַמֵּאָה מִן הַגַּנָּב. וְאִם גַּנָּב מְפֻרְסָם הוּא נוֹטֵל הַמֵּאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים מִן הַתַּגָּר שֶׁלָּקַח מִן הַגַּנָּב וְהוֹלֵךְ הַתַּגָּר וְתוֹבֵעַ הַגַּנָּב בְּמֵאָה שֶׁל קֶרֶן. וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם מָכַר הַשֵּׁנִי לִשְׁלִישִׁי וְהַשְּׁלִישִׁי לִרְבִיעִי אֲפִלּוּ מֵאָה שֶׁהוּא נוֹטֵל מִכָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מַה שֶּׁנִּשְׂכַּר וְנוֹטֵל הַקֶּרֶן מִן הַגַּנָּב. וְכָל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ לִפְנֵי יֵאוּשׁ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

10

The following rules apply when there is a report that goods belonging to a person who was not known to sell his personal property were stolen, and that person recognizes his utensils and books in the possession of another person. They also apply when the person would frequently sell his personal property, but the utensils he recognized as his own were utensils that are made to lend or to rent out.

If witnesses come and testify that these utensils belong to the said individual, the person in possession of the utensils shall take an oath, stating the price he paid for the utensils, and collect this sum from the the owner and then return them to him.

י

בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁאֵינוֹ עָשׂוּי לִמְכֹּר אֶת כֵּלָיו וְיָצָא לוֹ שֵׁם גְּנֵבָה בָּעִיר וְהִכִּיר כֵּלָיו וּסְפָרָיו בְּיַד אֲחֵרִים. אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה עָשׂוּי לִמְכֹּר וְהָיוּ כֵּלִים אֵלּוּ שֶׁהִכִּיר מִכֵּלִים הָעֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר. אִם בָּאוּ עֵדִים שֶׁזֶּה כֵּלָיו שֶׁל זֶה יִשָּׁבַע זֶה שֶׁהֵן בְּיָדוֹ בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ בְּכַמָּה לָקַח וְיִטּל מִבַּעַל הַבַּיִת וְיַחְזִיר לוֹ כֵּלָיו:

11

Different rules apply if the owner of the house would frequently sell his personal property, and the objects in question were not utensils that are made to lend or to rent out. In such an instance, even if there is a report that his property was stolen, the original owner is not entitled to claim it back from the purchasers, for it is possible that he sold it to others.

The house-owner's word is, however, accepted in the following situation. People came and lodged in his home. At night, he arose and called out: "My utensils and my scrolls have been stolen." His neighbors found a tunnel dug from his home and saw the people who lodged in his home leaving, carrying bundles of utensils on their shoulders. The thieves were not apprehended, but afterwards, the house-owner claimed to have discovered the stolen articles in the possession of another person, and everyone agreed, saying: "These are the house-owner's utensils and scrolls."

Under such circumstances, the house-owner's claim is accepted. The person in possession of the articles shall take an oath, stating the price he paid for the articles, and collect this sum from the house-owner and then return them to him.

יא

הָיָה בַּעַל הַבַּיִת עָשׂוּי לִמְכֹּר אֶת כֵּלָיו וְלֹא הָיוּ מִדְּבָרִים הָעֲשׂוּיִין לְהַשְׁאִיל וּלְהַשְׂכִּיר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיָּצָא לוֹ שֵׁם גְּנֵבָה בָּעִיר וְהֻכְּרוּ כֵּלָיו אֵינוֹ מַחֲזִירָן מִיַּד הַלָּקוֹחוֹת שֶׁמָּא הוּא מְכָרָן לַאֲחֵרִים. אֲבָל אִם בָּאוּ בְּנֵי אָדָם וְלָנוּ בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ וְעָמַד וְזָעַק בַּלַּיְלָה נִגְנְבוּ כֵּלַי וּסְפָרַי וּבָאוּ בְּנֵי אָדָם וּמָצְאוּ מַחְתֶּרֶת חֲתוּרָה וּבְנֵי אָדָם שֶׁלָּנוּ בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ יוֹצְאִין וּצְרוֹרוֹת שֶׁל כֵּלִים עַל כִּתְפֵיהֶם וְהַכּל אוֹמְרִים הַלָּלוּ כֵּלָיו וּסְפָרָיו שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי הֲרֵי זֶה נֶאֱמָן. וְיִשָּׁבַע זֶה שֶׁהַכֵּלִים בְּיָדוֹ בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ כַּמָּה הוֹצִיא וְיִטּל מִבַּעַל הַגְּנֵבָה וְיַחְזִיר לוֹ כֵּלָיו:

12

If a person whose reputation as a thief is public knowledge entered a person's house, and witnesses testify that he left with utensils hidden under his cloak, his word is not accepted even though the house-owner was present. Although the thief claims to have purchased the articles, since the house-owner claims that they were stolen, the house-owner's claim is accepted, provided he was not known to sell his personal property, the articles in question are not generally carried hidden, and the person in possession of the articles does not ordinarily carry them under his cloak. The house-owner must take an oath while holding a sacred article that they are his. He then may take his property.

If the person in possession of the articles is not known to be a thief, the house-owner's word is not accepted. Instead, the person in possession of the articles must take a Rabbinic oath that he purchased the articles. He may then depart.

יב

גָּנַב שֶׁהֻחְזַק וְנִתְפַּרְסֵם שֶׁנִּכְנַס לְתוֹךְ בֵּית חֲבֵרוֹ וְעֵדִים מְעִידִים שֶׁיָּצָא וְכֵלִים טְמוּנִים לוֹ תַּחַת כְּנָפָיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָיָה שָׁם בַּעַל הַבַּיִת וְטָעַן וְאָמַר לְקוּחִין הֵן בְּיָדִי וּבַעַל הַבַּיִת אוֹמֵר גְּנוּבִים הֵם. אִם הָיָה בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ לִמְכֹּר אֶת כֵּלָיו וְאוֹתָם כֵּלִים אֵין דֶּרֶךְ בְּנֵי אָדָם לְהַטְמִינָן וְאֵין דֶּרֶךְ אוֹתוֹ הַמֻּחְזָק לְהַצְנִיעַ כֵּלָיו תַּחַת כְּנָפָיו. הֲרֵי בַּעַל הַבַּיִת נֶאֱמָן וְיִשָּׁבַע בִּנְקִיטַת חֵפֶץ וְנוֹטֵל כֵּלָיו. וְאִם אֵין אָדָם זֶה מֻחְזָק בִּגְנֵבָה אֵין בַּעַל הַבַּיִת נֶאֱמָן אֶלָּא נִשְׁבָּע זֶה שֶׁהַכֵּלִים בְּיָדוֹ שְׁבוּעַת הֶסֵּת שֶׁהַכֵּלִים הָאֵלּוּ לְקוּחִים בְּיָדוֹ וְהוֹלֵךְ:

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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