Vol 17.25 - Kedoshim 1 Spanish French Audio Video
(5731)"Whoever steals is as if he worships idols" ( Tal.Sem.2:11, Siyum Mas..Sanh) "As long as as evildoers are in the world, wrath is therein ..who are the wicked - thieves" - the special injunction in the prohibition of stealing and the connection to the beginning of the tractate.
Kedoshim Removing G-d’s Fierce Anger
Theft is compared to idolatry. G-d’s fierce anger remains as long as there are wicked people – thieves. Idolatry also angers G-d. All other sins can be corrected by a positive action, restoring the original situation. Theft requires more; it requires teshuvah. This week's Torah reading contains one of the two admonitions against stealing. As our Sages explain, in the Ten Commandments, Thou shalt not steal means kidnapping. In this week's Torah reading, Thou shalt not steal prohibits the theft of money. Regarding such theft, our Sages declare that stealing is comparable to idolatry. A thief is like an idol-worshipper. When the Sages use such an expression, it's not just a metaphor to indicate the seriousness and severity of the transgression. Rather, it indicates a similarity between the essential nature of such a violation and that of idolatry.
Why, of all transgressions, is monetary theft akin to idolatry? What unique feature do they share?
The question has a practical urgency:when Moshiach comes,allforms of idolatry will be removed. Indeed, removal of idolatry is a prerequisite for Redemption, as we acknowledge thrice-daily in the Aleinu prayer: . . . therefore we hope to You, L-rd our G-d, that we may speedily behold the splendor of Your might, to banish idolatry from the earth and false gods will be utterly destroyed . . . Then all the inhabitants of the world will recognize and know that every knee should bend to You . . . and they will all take upon themselves the yoke of Your kingdom . . . And it is said: The L-rd shall be King over the entire earth; on that day the L-rd shall be One and His Name One.
Of course, when Moshiach comes thievery and other such activities will also cease. In a general sense, this is understandable, since every transgression is a violation of G-d’s Will, and thus idolatry in miniature. In the era of Redemption, when “all eyes will see” and “the whole world will be filled with knowledge of G-d,” fulfilling G-d’s commandments will be the automatic and natural thing to do. Recognizing and feeling G-d’s presence will prevent such violations.
Idolatry is the paradigm, the beginning of all transgressions. In a sense, all others are simply parts, greater or lesser segments of idolatry. At this level, every moment we don’t violate a commandment, we destroy a little piece of idolatry, and thus bring Moshiach closer. By negating the negative, so to speak, we bring the positive: by not stealing, we reveal G-dliness. Still, since the Sages declared there to be a direct correspondence, there must be a special connection between theft and idolatry. Stealing, an act between one person and another, parallels idolatry, an act between man and G-d. This point of comparison, this essential aspect that theft and idolatry share, emerges from the prohibition to steal from a condemned idolatrous city: When an entire city is enticed into idolatry, Torah commands that the inhabitants be killed and its contents burned. Since there might be a temptation to save some of the valuables, the Torah warns us not to take anything belonging to the condemned city. Even though the death penalty applies to the inhabitants, their possessions are not like lost objects.
Here, the prohibition against stealing is very specific: one may not take any object from a city condemned for idolatry. One might think that such objects are ownerless, and thus free. But the Torah ordained differently: all the items of a condemned city are prohibited. Since we are prohibited to take them, taking them would be stealing.
The Sages also provide a reason: such a theft keeps G-d’s “fierce anger” in the world. “As long as there are wicked people in the world, there is fierce anger in the world.” The wicked people referred to cannot be the idolaters themselves, since they have already been killed. Rather, the wicked are those who would take the possessions of the idolaters, the contraband of the condemned city. Thus, the Sages conclude, “When the wicked are removed from the world, G-d’s fierce anger is removed from the world. Who are these wicked? Thieves.”
We now have the following correspondence: just as idolatry inhibits Redemption, so stealing, specifically from an idolatrous city, inhibits the removal of G-d’s fierce anger from the world. On the other side, just as removing idolatry is a prerequisite for Redemption, as we acknowledge in the Aleinu prayer, so too, removing the wicked – the thieves – is the prerequisite for removal of G-d’s fierce anger. (Obviously, only the severest transgression brings G-d’s “fierce anger” into the world in the first place. The greatest sin against G-d is idolatry. Idolatry arouses G-d’s fierce anger, but stealing keeps it in existence, preventing Redemption.) What differentiates stealing from other sins? Generally, a sin exists only as long as a person is sinning. For example a person who eats non-kosher food violates the laws of kashrus only while he is eating. When he’s not eating treif, he’s not violating a commandment. Similarly, a person who hits someone else has transgressed only at the moment he strikes the other person. But so long as a stolen object has not been returned, the thief is still and continuously stealing. Once the stolen object is returned, the thief no longer transgresses. From then on, the individual no longer violates the prohibition. But he has not retroactively repaired the past. That requires teshuvah.
In most cases, the sin has a limited lifespan, so to speak. When one stops violating the mitzvah, the sin ceases to e
What is true about theft is also true in a more limited sense about every transgression: until we do teshuvah, G-d’s displeasure persists. With every sin comes the imperative to do teshuvah. As important as teshuvah is in general, it becomes ultimately significant in bringing Moshiach; as the Rambam rules, the Jewish people will eventually do teshuvah and immediately they will be redeemed. When considering other transgressions, a person may reason that, since he will definitely do teshuvah anyway, it’s acceptable to delay it. The delay may seem especially justified if one becomes involved in other good things.
Or, one can resolve to do something good, a mitzvah. But there’s no urgency to fulfill the resolution; we may become busy with other interests. However, since delaying teshuvah sustains G-d’s “anger” in the world, such conduct is improper. G-d’s displeasure stays beyond the moment of transgression; it remains continuously; delay affects not just the individual, but the entire world. Our teshuvah becomes responsible for removing G-d’s displeasure and transforming the world. Doing good benefits not only the individual, but the entire world. And once one does teshuvah, its effect also continues onward. Everything depends on our actions. We, through our teshuvah and positive actions, can bring the ultimate Redemption one moment sooner.
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