Feb 14, 2013

Sticking Up for our Fellow Jew

The scene: You are in a store and see someone shoplifting.  What do you do? Tell the manager/owner? Confront the person? Look away?

The discussion:

A says: It's not for us to judge anyone.  There's too much judging going on.  We are not G-d's policeman!

B says: So, just let the perpetrator get away with stealing?

A has, on previous occasions, expressed dismay over how Jews don't stand by one another.  Snitching?! Out of the question! So A is adamantly opposed to informing on the shoplifter.  A also gives examples of situations in which a store owner was aware that someone was shoplifting and chose to let it go.

B says: Well, that's the owner's prerogative! An owner can choose to let someone take merchandise without paying for it! But if you see it happening, how do you have the right to allow them to steal?

A maintains their non-condemnatory stance until B says: The halacha is that you are not permitted to buy stolen goods because that makes you an accessory to the thief.  If you look away from a shoplifter, you are an accessory to the crime! Why do you have more Ahavas Yisrael for the shoplifter than for the store owner?

At that, A's position was modified to say see whether you can say something to the shoplifter (as opposed to reporting to the manager/owner), having realized that by protecting the shoplifter we are hurting someone else.


  1. I wonder what a rav would pasken. We are allowed to warn someone when they are about to be harmed physically or financially. We also are allowed to carefully rebuke someone who is doing something wrong. I don't see why a shoplifter would be entitled to steal in order to show him ahavas yisroel.

  2. Not only are we allowed to warn someone if they are going to be harmed, we are obligated to warn them. I think that "A" is so disgusted by mesira that it took time to realize that the store owner would be hurt here.