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      And they shall confess their sins which they have perpetrated, and he shall make restitution for his sin (Numbers 5:7)

                 In today’s portion of the Torah we read about the sin of theft, and that in addition to making restitution, the thief must confess his sin. This is one of the few places in Torah where confession is mentioned. Why, of all sins, does the Torah choose to mention confession in regard to theft?

                 The Rabbi of Gur answered that all our faculties are on loan to us from G-d for specified purposes. Our hands were given to us to do mitzvos, our legs to take us where we belong, our eyes to read Torah, our ears to hear the word of G-d, our tongues to pray and speak the praises of G-d, our mouths to eat in order to sustain our lives so that we may fulfill our mission in life.

                 The Talmud states that before a person is born into the world, the neshamah (soul) is given a solemn oath, “Be a tzaddik (a just person) and do not be a rasha” (a sinful person, Nidda 30b). If we use our vision to look at indecent things, our ears to hear gossip, our tongues to slander, our hands to take what is not ours, our legs to go to improper places, and our mouths to eat forbidden foods, we are violating the terms on which we received these faculties. Such unauthorized use of our faculties constitutes theft. All sinful acts are, as it were, theft, and confession is therefore mentioned in relationship to theft, for all sin is a kind of thievery.

               Teshuvah, in addition to its usual meaning of repentance, also means “return.”  A stolen item must be returned to its rightful owner. An object loaned for a specific use that has been put to an unauthorized use must be returned to its proper and rightful use.


                Some people who consider themselves to be highly ethical and who would abhor the notion of taking even one cent that does not belong to them may not be, however, as loath to glance at objects of temptation, to speak badly of another person, or to listen to gossip. They fail to realize that such unauthorized use of our G-d given or our G-d loaned faculties is no less theft than committing a burglary, something which they consider repugnant and completely alien to them.                

                 We must remember that our lives do not fully belong to us. They are on loan to us for the extent of our life span. We must be extremely careful not to commit theft by misusing them.                    


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Jonathan Horowitz


Tue, June 25 2024 19 Sivan 5784