Religion Magazine

It is Assur to Steal from the Government

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
People are people. No matter how religious or moral a person might be, he or she is tempted by various temptations. Some are able to overcome the temptations and do the right thing, at least most of the time, while others fail - sometimes more and sometimes less. People are not immune and communities are not immune from having such people within them.
In recent years, unfortunately not infrequently enough, people scamming either the government or other people even from within their own community have been exposed, caught and even convicted, in the Haredi community.
I don't know that it happens more in the Haredi community than in any other community - it probably does not - but with a community like the Haredi community that has the fear of God and adherence to Torah and mitzvos as its daily ideals and lifestyle, one might expect better, and it is perhaps a bit more shocking and upsetting when it happens.
One of the interesting phenomenon in these instances is the point where the action gets justified for religious reasons, or even turned into an ideal on its own. Even the gemara says that after you do something wrong a few times it becomes considered as a mitzva. It is definitely just a sense of justification as a way of convincing yourself, and maybe others, that you aren't doing anything wrong.
To that end, Kikar is reporting that someone has anonymously written a booklet, a kuntress, dealing with this very issue. The kuntress goes into halachic detail, even quoting the great rabbis of recent generations such as Rav Elyashiv, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Ovadia Yosef and others, explaining why one is not allowed to cheat the government.
This anonymous author has been distributing his booklet around shuls in Haredi communities in Jerusalem, Bet Shemesh and elsewhere.
I don't know if such a kuntress will have any effect on anything. People generally know it is not allowed. They know they are doing something wrong but find ways to justify it. Perhaps it will convince some, and if it does it will have been worth it.
I don't know why it needs to be anonymous. Will anybody stand up and protest saying it is definitely allowed to steal from the government or that one can scam his own neighbors out of their money? I am not sure what such an author is worried about that he feels he needs to remain anonymous.
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