The Eighth Commandment, “You Shall Not Steal” may seem obvious to most people but to some, stealing is a way of life. Stealing, however, is not just taking something that doesn’t belong to you, it can have a much wider application.
We can steal someone’s self-esteem by continuously insulting them. We can steal someone’s self-respect by constant denigrating them. Hitler did that to an entire people, many of whom began to hate themselves. We must learn NOT to take the insults of others personally but remember that people who feel badly about themselves generally make others feel bad. A parent can steal their child’s talent that comes naturally to them by constantly putting down and discouraging that child. We can continue to steal or chip away at our own self-worth because of someone else’s ignorance or emotional damage. Don’t allow that to happen to you, rather remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
We can cheat on exams and steal a title we don’t deserve but what are the consequences of that?
We can steal someone’s peace of mind through caustic behavior such as constant complaining or worrying. Proverbs 27 says that “A nagging wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm.” The constant complaints of the children of Israel caused Moses to lose his temper and his right to enter the Promised Land. Our behavior has consequences both to ourselves and others.
We can steal someone’s hope or excitement about a future project by our negativity. That can break a relationship.
The consequence of stealing goes far deeper than someone taking a piece of our property. It affects our soul. I remember returning home after a weekend away with my family and finding that someone had broken in and stolen some very specific items. Our housekeeper never came back after that, and she knew where our things of value were kept. The saddest thing for me was to watch the reaction of my 5-year-old daughter. She started screaming as if she had been violated. This was the first time I saw her react that way. She took it very personally. Her home, her place of safety had been violated.
The worst theft for me, as a woman, is when a man steals the virginity of a young girl with or without consent. This can also pertain to young boys. Innocence is lost and trust flies out the window. It’s the worst of all violations whether it happens to a girl or a boy, or really any individual. This type of stealing damages the soul and requires the healing hand of our Creator.
Today our youth has been robbed of its innocence. This amoral society is stealing childhood away from our children who are being forced to see and to do things inappropriate not only for them but for people of any age. This is being done in our school system by teachers in whom we entrust our children. Parents, get involved and listen to what they are learning. Education begins at home. See who their friends are for they can also steal from them in many areas of their lives.
This is also happening in the media, in the entertainment and news world which is robbing us of our peace of mind. Today our freedom is being stolen right from under our noses while we are slowly being lulled into complacency or frozen with fear. Free Will is a gift from God and comes with responsibility for our choices which hold consequences. Yes, you shall not steal is far greater than we might have thought.
You shall not steal encompasses so many areas in our life and is part of loving your neighbor as yourself. What has been stolen from you, I’m sure you can think of some yourself? And how do we retrieve what has been lost?
I love the verses from our prophet Joel, “And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten…”. There is hope for all of us because our Creator is the God of beginning again, as our rabbi, Ranebi used to say. Let’s look for ways to give to one another instead of stealing, for it is in giving that we receive far more than we can ever expect in return.
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Until next time