Respecting Property


A child causes damage to another's property, or steals from a friend, even though from a pure Halachik perspective he is exempt (being that he is a minor), however what about from an ethical point of view? Are we obligated to stop him or not?

What about is he is eating something treif or speaking Lashan Hara, what are our obligations? Are they the same in all the above scenarios?

The Rambam writes: "ראוי לבית דין להכות את הקטנים על הגנבה כפי כח הקטן כדי שלא יהיו רגילין בה" – It is incumbent on the Beit Din to beat the child for stealing (according to his strength) in order to avoid such behavior in the future. R' Yosef Cairo in his commentary (Kesef Mishna) however clarifies that we only find this law in relation to behavior between man and man (בין אדם לחבירו) but in issues between man and G-d (בין אדם למקום) there is no such rule.

On the laws of בין אדם למקום it is not clear how far we have to go to ensure proper behavior, however on the issues בין אדם לחבירו it is clear according to all opinions that parents have to "go all the way" and if there are no parents to fulfill this role the obligation fall on the Beit Din.

We see the importance of educating our children to respect others and their property. It is not good enough to rely on the gan, school or neighbor. Every person has to do their part to ensure the continuous harmonious living between people in all ways.



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