Introduction to Hilchos Genevah

[This text] contains seven mitzvot: two positive commandments and five negative commandments. They are:
1) Not to steal property;
2) The laws governing a thief;
3) To insure the accuracy of scales and weights;
4) Not to deceive a person by using [inaccurate] measures and weights;
5) Not to possess two sets of weights or measures, even though one does not use them for business;
6) Not to move a colleague's property marker;
7) Not to kidnap.

These mitzvot are explained in the chapters [that follow].

הלכות גניבה - הקדמה יש בכללן שבע מצות. שתי מצות עשה. וחמש מצות לא תעשה, וזה הוא פרטן:
א) שלא לגנוב ממון
ב) דין הגנב
ג) לצדק המאזנים עם המשקלות
ד) שלא יעשה עול במדות ובמשקלות
ה) שלא יהיה לאדם אבן ואבן איפה ואיפה אף על פי שאינו לוקח ונותן בהן
ו) שלא יסיג גבול
ז) שלא לגנוב נפשות : וביאור מצות אלו בפרקים אלו

1

Whenever a person steals property that is worth a p'rutah or more, he transgresses a negative commandment, as Exodus 20:13 states: "Do not steal."

Lashes are not administered for the violation of this commandment, for one is obligated to give compensation. For the Torah requires a thief to compensate the party from whom he stole, whether he be a Jew or a gentile, an adult or a minor.

א

כָּל הַגּוֹנֵב מָמוֹן מִשְּׁוֵה פְּרוּטָה וּלְמַעְלָה עוֹבֵר עַל לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט יא) "לֹא תִגְנֹב". וְאֵין לוֹקִין עַל לָאו זֶה שֶׁהֲרֵי נִתָּן לְתַשְׁלוּמִין שֶׁהַגַּנָּב חִיְּבַתּוּ תּוֹרָה לְשַׁלֵּם. וְאֶחָד הַגּוֹנֵב מָמוֹן יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ הַגּוֹנֵב מָמוֹן עַכּוּ''ם וְאֶחָד הַגּוֹנֵב אֶת הַגָּדוֹל אוֹ אֶת הַקָּטָן:

2

The Torah prohibits stealing even the slightest amount. It is forbidden to steal as a jest, to steal with the intent to return, or to steal with the intent to pay. All is forbidden, lest one habituate oneself to such conduct.

ב

אָסוּר לִגְנֹב כָּל שֶׁהוּא דִּין תּוֹרָה. וְאָסוּר לִגְנֹב דֶּרֶךְ שְׂחוֹק אוֹ לִגְנֹב עַל מְנָת לְהַחְזִיר אוֹ עַל מְנָת לְשַׁלֵּם הַכּל אָסוּר שֶׁלֹּא יַרְגִּיל עַצְמוֹ בְּכָךְ:

3

Who is a thief? A person who takes assets belonging to a colleague in stealth, without the owner's knowing - e.g., a pickpocket who is not detected by the owner or the like.

If, however, a person takes a colleague's assets in open view and with public knowledge by force, he is not considered a thief, but rather a robber.

For this reason, an armed bandit who steals is not considered a robber, but a thief. This applies even when the owner takes notice when he steals.

ג

אֵיזֶה הוּא גַּנָּב זֶה הַלּוֹקֵחַ מָמוֹן אָדָם בַּסֵּתֶר וְאֵין הַבְּעָלִים יוֹדְעִים. כְּגוֹן הַפּוֹשֵׁט יָדוֹ לְתוֹךְ כִּיס חֲבֵרוֹ וְלָקַח מְעוֹתָיו וְאֵין הַבְּעָלִים רוֹאִין. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. אֲבָל אִם לָקַח בְּגָלוּי וּבְפַרְהֶסְיָא בְּחֹזֶק יָד אֵין זֶה גַּנָּב אֶלָּא גַּזְלָן. לְפִיכָךְ לִסְטִים מְזֻיָּן שֶׁגָּנַב אֵינוֹ גַּזְלָן אֶלָּא גַּנָּב אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַבְּעָלִים יוֹדְעִים בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁגָּנַב:

4

When two acceptable witnesses testify that a person stole, he is required to pay twice the amount of the stolen property to its owner. If he stole a dinar, he must pay two. If he stole a donkey, a garment or a camel, he must pay twice its worth. He thus loses the amount that he desired that his colleague would lose.

ד

גַּנָּב שֶׁהֵעִידוּ עָלָיו עֵדִים כְּשֵׁרִים שֶׁגָּנַב חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם שְׁנַיִם לְבַעַל הַגְּנֵבָה. אִם גָּנַב דִּינָר מְשַׁלֵּם שְׁנַיִם. גָּנַב חֲמוֹר אוֹ כְּסוּת אוֹ גָּמָל מְשַׁלֵּם שְׁנַיִם בְּדָמֶיהָ. נִמְצָא מַפְסִיד כַּשִּׁעוּר שֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ לְחַסֵּר אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.

5

When a thief admits that he stole, he must repay the principal, but he is not liable for the payment of the double amount, as indicated by Exodus 22:8: "one who is deemed guilty by the court must pay double." This excludes a person who admits his own guilt; he need not pay double.

This principle applies with regard to all the fines required by the Torah. A person who admits his own guilt is not liable for the fine.

ה

גַּנָּב שֶׁהוֹדָה מֵעַצְמוֹ שֶׁגָּנַב מְשַׁלֵּם אֶת הַקֶּרֶן וּפָטוּר מִן הַכֶּפֶל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כב ח) "אֲשֶׁר יַרְשִׁיעֻן אֱלֹהִים יְשַׁלֵּם שְׁנַיִם" וְלֹא הַמַּרְשִׁיעַ אֶת עַצְמוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם שְׁנַיִם. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְכָל הַקְּנָסוֹת שֶׁהַמּוֹדֶה בָּהֶן פָּטוּר:

6

The obligation to make double restitution applies with regard to all articles with the exception of a sheep or an ox. A person who steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay four times the amount of the sheep and five times the amount of the ox.

ו

תַּשְׁלוּמֵי כֶּפֶל נוֹהֲגִין בַּכּל חוּץ מִשֶּׂה וְשׁוֹר שֶׁהַגּוֹנֵב אֶת הַשּׁוֹר אוֹ אֶת הַשֶּׂה וְטָבַח אוֹ מָכַר מְשַׁלֵּם עַל הַשֶּׂה תַּשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וְעַל הַשּׁוֹר תַּשְׁלוּמֵי חֲמִשָּׁה:

7

The obligation to pay double - or four or five times the amount - of the value of the stolen article applies equally to a man and to a woman. If a woman is married and thus has no financial resources with which to pay, the double payment remains a debt that she is obligated to pay when she is divorced or becomes a widow. At that time, the court exacts payment from her.

ז

אֶחָד הָאִישׁ וְאֶחָד הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁגָּנְבוּ חַיָּבִין לְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי כֶּפֶל וְתַשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה. הָיְתָה אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ שֶׁאֵין לָהּ לְשַׁלֵּם הֲרֵי הַכֶּפֶל עָלֶיהָ חוֹב עַד שֶׁתִּתְגָּרֵשׁ אוֹ יָמוּת בַּעְלָהּ וּבֵית דִּין נִפְרָעִים מִמֶּנָּה:

8

When a minor steals, he is not liable for the double payment. The stolen article must, however, be returned to its owner. If that article is lost, he is not obligated to pay the principal even after he attains majority.

ח

קָטָן שֶׁגָּנַב פָּטוּר מִן הַכֶּפֶל וּמַחְזִירִין לוֹ דָּבָר הַגָּנוּב מִמֶּנּוּ. וְאִם אָבְדוּ אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם אַף הַקֶּרֶן וַאֲפִלּוּ לְאַחַר שֶׁהִגְדִּיל:

9

When a servant steals, he is not liable for the double payment. Similarly, his owner is not liable. For a person is not liable for the damages caused by his servants although they are his property. The rationale is that the servants are mentally competent, and their owner is incapable of guarding them. Were the owner to be held liable for the damages his servants cause, if he angered a servant, the servant could desire to seek revenge and go and ignite a grain heap worth a thousand dinar or precipitate other similar damage to cause his owner to be liable.

If the servant is freed by his owner, he is obligated to pay the double payment.

ט

הָעֶבֶד שֶׁגָּנַב פָּטוּר מִן הַכֶּפֶל וּבְעָלָיו פְּטוּרִין שֶׁאֵין אָדָם חַיָּב עַל נִזְקֵי עֲבָדָיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן מָמוֹנוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן דַּעַת וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְשָׁמְרָן שֶׁאִם יַכְעִיסֶנּוּ רַבּוֹ יֵלֵךְ וְיַדְלִיק גָּדִישׁ בְּאֶלֶף דִּינָר וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה מִשְּׁאָר נְזָקִין. נִשְׁתַּחְרֵר הָעֶבֶד חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם אֶת הַכֶּפֶל:

10

It is appropriate for the court to administer corporal punishment to a child who steals, according to the child's strength, so that he will not become accustomed to such conduct. The same principles apply if he causes other types of damage.

Similarly, servants who stole or caused damage should be administered severe corporal punishment, so that they will not become accustomed to causing damage.

י

רָאוּי לְבֵית דִּין לְהַכּוֹת אֶת הַקְּטַנִּים כְּפִי כֹּחַ הַקָּטָן עַל הַגְּנֵבָה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ רְגִילִין בָּהּ. וְכֵן אִם הִזִּיקוּ שְׁאָר נְזָקִין. וְכֵן מַכִּין אֶת הָעֲבָדִים שֶׁגָּנְבוּ אוֹ שֶׁהִזִּיקוּ מַכָּה רַבָּה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ רְגִילִין לְהַזִּיק:

11

When the stolen article increased in value while it was in the thief's possession - e.g., a sheep bore a lamb and it was shorn - the thief must restore the sheep, its shearings and its offspring.

If the owner already despaired of the sheep's return, and it gave birth or was shorn, the thief must pay only the value at the time of the theft. If the thief invested in the stolen property, causing its value to increase - e.g., he force fed livestock - the thief is entitled to the increase in value even when the owner does not despair of the article's return. When the thief restores the stolen article and the double payment, he should be repaid for the increase in value by the owner, or that amount should be deducted from the double payment.

יא

הָיְתָה הַגְּנֵבָה בְּיַד הַגַּנָּב וְהִשְׁבִּיחָה מֵאֵלֶיהָ כְּגוֹן כִּבְשָׂה שֶׁיָּלְדָה וּגְזָזָהּ מְשַׁלֵּם אוֹתָהּ וְאֶת גִּזּוֹתֶיהָ וְאֶת וַלְדוֹתֶיהָ. וְאִם אַחַר יֵאוּשׁ יָלְדָה וּגְזָזָהּ מְשַׁלֵּם כִּשְׁעַת הַגְּנֵבָה. הוֹצִיא עָלֶיהָ הוֹצָאָה וְהִשְׁבִּיחָהּ כְּגוֹן שֶׁפִּטְּמָהּ הֲרֵי הַשֶּׁבַח שֶׁל גַּנָּב אֲפִלּוּ לִפְנֵי יֵאוּשׁ. וּכְשֶׁמַּחְזִיר הַגְּנֵבָה עִם הַכֶּפֶל נוֹטֵל הַשֶּׁבַח מִן הַבְּעָלִים אוֹ מְחַשְּׁבִין לוֹ מִן הַכֶּפֶל:

12

When the stolen article remains unchanged in the possession of the thief, it should be returned to its owner regardless of whether or not he despaired of its return. If, however, it increased in value after the owner despaired of its return, the thief is entitled to that increase, as we have explained above.

If, however, the stolen article underwent a fundamental change while in the thief's possession, the thief acquires it and any increase in its value, even before the owner despairs of the article's return. All that is required of him is to return the value of the stolen article at the time of the theft.

יב

הַגְּנֵבָה עַצְמָהּ שֶׁהִיא בְּיַד הַגַּנָּב וְלֹא נִשְׁתַּנֵּית חוֹזֶרֶת לִבְעָלֶיהָ בֵּין לִפְנֵי יֵאוּשׁ בֵּין לְאַחַר יֵאוּשׁ אֶלָּא שֶׁאַחַר יֵאוּשׁ הַשֶּׁבַח לַגַּנָּב כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. נִשְׁתַּנֵּית הַגְּנֵבָה בְּיַד הַגַּנָּב קְנָאָהּ וְקָנָה שִׁבְחָהּ אֲפִלּוּ לִפְנֵי יֵאוּשׁ וְאֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם אֶלָּא דָּמִים:

13

If he stole a gaunt animal and he fattened it, or he stole a fat animal and he caused its weight to be reduced, he is liable to pay twice - or four or five times - the value of the animal at the time of the theft.

If he stole a kid and it grew into a ram, or a calf and it grew into an ox, he is liable to pay twice the value of the animal at the time of the theft. If he slaughtered it or sold it after it matured, it is considered to have undergone a change while in the thief's possession, and he acquires it. Thus, he is slaughtering or selling his own animal; he is not required to pay four or five times its worth.

יג

גָּנַב כְּחוּשָׁה וְהִשְׁמִינָה אוֹ שְׁמֵנָה וְהִכְחִישָׁה מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי כֶּפֶל אוֹ תַּשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה כִּשְׁעַת הַגְּנֵבָה. גָּנַב טָלֶה וְנַעֲשָׂה אַיִל עֵגֶל וְנַעֲשָׂה שׁוֹר מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי כֶּפֶל כִּשְׁעַת הַגְּנֵבָה. טְבָחוֹ אוֹ מְכָרוֹ אַחַר שֶׁהִגְדִּיל נַעֲשָׂה שִׁנּוּי בְּיָדוֹ וְקָנָהוּ וְשֶׁלּוֹ הוּא טוֹבֵחַ וְשֶׁלּוֹ הוּא מוֹכֵר וְאֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה:

14

When a person steals an animal, a utensil or the like that was worth four zuz at the time of the theft, but at the time the case is brought to court, it depreciated and is worth only two, the thief must pay the worth of the principal at the time of the theft, and pay the double - or quadruple or quintuple - amount as evaluated at the time the case is brought to court.

The following rules apply if an animal or a utensil was worth two zuz at the time of the theft, but at the time the case is brought to court, it appreciated and is worth four. If the person slaughtered or sold the animal or destroyed or lost the utensil, he must pay double - or four or five times - the worth of the stolen article at the time the case is brought to court.

If the animal died or the utensil was lost as a matter of course, he must pay double the worth of the stolen article at the time of the theft.

יד

גָּנַב בְּהֵמָה אוֹ כְּלִי וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן וּבִשְׁעַת הַגְּנֵבָה הָיָה שָׁוֶה אַרְבָּעָה וְעַכְשָׁו בִּשְׁעַת הַעֲמָדָה בַּדִּין שָׁוֶה שְׁנַיִם מְשַׁלֵּם קֶרֶן כִּשְׁעַת הַגְּנֵבָה וְתַשְׁלוּמֵי כֶּפֶל אוֹ אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה כִּשְׁעַת הַעֲמָדָה בַּדִּין. הָיָה שָׁוֶה בִּשְׁעַת הַגְּנֵבָה שְׁנַיִם וּבִשְׁעַת הַעֲמָדָה בַּדִּין אַרְבָּעָה אִם שָׁחַט אוֹ מָכַר אוֹ שָׁבַר הַכְּלִי אוֹ אִבְּדוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי כֶּפֶל אוֹ אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה כִּשְׁעַת הַעֲמָדָה בַּדִּין. וְאִם מֵתָה הַבְּהֵמָה אוֹ אָבַד הַכְּלִי מֵאֵלָיו מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי כֶּפֶל כִּשְׁעַת הַגְּנֵבָה:

15

When a person steals a utensil and destroys it or causes it to decrease in value - or it is destroyed or it decreases in value as a matter of course - the amount of the decrease is not evaluated. Instead, we evaluate the original worth of this utensil, and the thief is obligated to pay the owner twice this amount. The broken utensil becomes the property of the thief. The same laws apply in all similar instances.

If the owner desires to take the broken utensil and be compensated for the damage done to it and receive the double payment, his wishes are respected.

טו

מִי שֶׁגָּנַב כְּלִי וּשְׁבָרוֹ אוֹ פִּחֲתוֹ אוֹ נִשְׁבַּר אוֹ נִפְחַת מֵאֵלָיו אֵין שָׁמִין לוֹ הַפְּחָת אֶלָּא רוֹאִין כַּמָּה הָיָה שָׁוֶה אוֹתוֹ הַכְּלִי וּמְשַׁלֵּם לַבְּעָלִים שְׁנַיִם בְּדָמָיו וְהַכְּלִי הַשָּׁבוּר יִהְיֶה לַגַּנָּב. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. וְאִם רָצוּ הַבְּעָלִים לִטּל הַכְּלִי הַשָּׁבוּר וִישַׁלֵּם לָהֶם הַפְּחָת וְהַכֶּפֶל שׁוֹמְעִין לָהֶן:

16

When a thief slaughters or sells a sheep or an ox before the owner despairs of its return, he is required to pay four or five times its amount, despite the fact that the sale is nullified and the purchaser does not acquire the article, but instead must return it intact to its original owner.

Needless to say, the above applies if he slaughters or sells the animal after the owner despairs of its return. For his deed is effective, and the purchaser is considered to have acquired the article.

טז

הַגַּנָּב שֶׁגָּנַב וְטָבַח אוֹ מָכַר לִפְנֵי יֵאוּשׁ בְּעָלִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא קָנָה לוֹקֵחַ וַהֲרֵי הַגְּנֵבָה חוֹזֶרֶת בְּעַצְמָהּ מִיַּד הַלּוֹקֵחַ הֲרֵי זֶה מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם טָבַח אוֹ מָכַר לְאַחַר יֵאוּשׁ שֶׁהוּא מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה שֶׁהֲרֵי הוֹעִיל בְּמַעֲשָׂיו וְקָנָה הַלּוֹקֵחַ:

17

When a thief steals from another thief, he is not required to pay twice its amount. This applies even if the original owner despaired of the stolen article's return. If the second thief slaughters or sells a stolen animal, he is not required to pay the first thief four or five times its worth.

The rationale is that the law is that this animal must be returned to its owner; it was never acquired by the thief. Nor must the second thief pay twice, four or five times the amount to the original owner, because he did not steal the property from the original owner's domain.

יז

הַגּוֹנֵב מִגַּנָּב אַחֵר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים אֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי כֶּפֶל וְאִם טָבַח וּמָכַר אֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה לַגַּנָּב הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁהֲרֵי דִּין הַבְּהֵמָה הַזֹּאת לַחֲזֹר בְּעֵינֶיהָ לַבְּעָלִים וְלֹא קְנָאָהּ הַגַּנָּב וְלַבְּעָלִים אֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם הַכֶּפֶל אוֹ אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא גְּנָבָהּ מֵרְשׁוּתָן:

18

When a thief steals an animal and slaughters it, and then another person steals the meat, the second thief must make double restitution to the first thief, for the first thief acquired the animal because of the change his deed brought about. The first thief must, however, pay four or five times the animal's worth.

The following rules apply when a thief stole an animal and sold it, and another person stole it from the purchaser. If the original owner despaired of the animal's return, the first thief must pay four or five times the animal's worth, and the second thief must pay double its worth. If the original owner did not despair of the animal's return, the second thief is required to restore only the principal.

יח

גָּנַב וְטָבַח וּבָא גַּנָּב אַחֵר וְגָנַב. הַגַּנָּב הָאַחֲרוֹן מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי כֶּפֶל לַגַּנָּב הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁהֲרֵי קָנָה בְּשִׁנּוּי מַעֲשֶׂה וְגַנָּב הָרִאשׁוֹן מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה. גָּנַב וּמָכַר וּבָא אַחֵר וְגָנַב מִן הַלּוֹקֵחַ. אִם נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים הֲרֵי הָרִאשׁוֹן מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה וְהַגַּנָּב הַשֵּׁנִי מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי כֶּפֶל וְאִם לֹא נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים אֵין הָאַחֲרוֹן מְשַׁלֵּם אֶלָּא קֶרֶן בִּלְבַד: