Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Lying, Stealing and Cheating in Jewish Talmud




The Jewish Talmud makes several provisions for Jews to lie to, steal from, and cheat Gentiles.  As usual, the only rule is that the Jew must not get caught (“profane the name” of Jews and/or their god). According to the Talmud Jews must return the lost items of other Jews, but they may keep the lost items they find of “heathens”, unless they think the non-Jew will find out about the theft. In a commercial transaction, if a Gentile makes a mistake in a Jew’s favor (for example, if the Gentile undercharges the Jew), the money does not have to be returned. Some commentators say that a Gentile may be actively and intentionally misled and deceived during a commercial transaction by disguising the low quality of goods.  There are even provisions for directly stealing from Gentiles, the perverse thinking behind this is that a Jew would give the objects for free while the Gentile would ask for payment, so it is ok to steal it from the Gentile.


JEWS MAY KEEP OBJECTS LOST BY GENTILES, BUT NOT THOSE OF JEWS
UNLESS THEY THINK THEY WILL GET CAUGHT (PROFANE THE “NAME” OF GOD) 
. His lost article is permissible, for R. Hama b. Guria said that Rab stated: Whence can we learn that the lost article of a heathen is permissible? Because it says: And with all lost thing of thy brother’s: it is to your brother that you make restoration, but you need not make restoration to a heathen. But why not say that this applies only where the lost article has not yet come into the possession of the finder, in which case he is under no obligation to look round for it, whereas if it had already entered his possession, why not say that he should return it. — Said Rabina: And thou hast found it surely implies that the lost article has already come into his possession. It was taught: R. phinehas b. Yair said that where there was a danger of causing a profanation of the Name, even the retaining of a lost article of a heathen is a crime. – 1962 Soncino Babylonian Talmud, Baba Kamma 113b
IT IS PERMISSIBLE TO PROFIT FROM THE MISTAKE OF A GENTILE
Samuel said: It is permissible, however, to benefit by his mistake as in the case when Samuel once bought of a heathen a golden bowl under the assumption of it being of copper for four zuz, and also left him minus one zuz. R. Kahana once bought of a heathen a hundred and twenty barrels which were supposed to be a hundred while he similarly left him minus one zuz and said to him: ‘See that I am relying upon you.’ - 1962 Soncino Babylonian Talmud, Baba Kamma 113b
IT IS PERMISSIBLE TO HIDE THE LOW QUALITY OF PRODUCTS FROM GENTILES
Rabina together with a heathen bought a palm-tree to chop up [and divide]. He thereupon said to his attendant: Quick, bring to me the parts near to the roots, for the heathen is interested only in the number [but not in the quality]. - 1962 Soncino Babylonian Talmud, Baba Kamma 113b
DIRECT THEFT FROM GENTILES (BECAUSE A JEW WOULD GIVE IT FOR FREE)
R. Ashi was once walking on the road when he noticed branches of vines outside a vineyard upon which ripe clusters of grapes were hanging. He said to his attendant: ‘Go and see, if they belong to a heathen bring them to me,27  but if to an Israelite do not bring them to me.’ The heathen happened to be then sitting in the vineyard and thus overheard this conversation, so he said to him: ‘If of a heathen would they be permitted?’ — He replied: ‘A heathen is usually prepared to [dispose of his grapes and] accept payment, whereas an Israelite is generally not prepared to [do so and] accept payment. - 1962 Soncino Babylonian Talmud, Baba Kamma 113b
Footnote 27: Especially since the branches were outside the vineyard and thus probably overhanging a public road; cf. B.B. II, 14.
LIE TO NON-JEWS TO WIN LEGAL BATTLES UNLESS THEY THINK THEY WILL GET CAUGHT (PROFANE THE “NAME” OF GOD)
Where a suit arises between an Israelite and a heathen, if you can justify the former according to the laws of Israel, justify him and say: ‘This is our law’; so also if you can justify him by the laws of the heathens justify him and say [to the other party:] ‘This is your law’; but if this can not be done, we use subterfuges to circumvent him.  This is the view of R. Ishmael, but R. Akiba said that we should not attempt to circumvent him on account of the sanctification of the Name. Now according to R. Akiba the whole reason [appears to be,] because of the sanctification of the Name, but were there no infringement of the sanctification of the Name, we could circumvent him!  - 1962 Soncino Babylonian Talmud, Baba Kamma 113a

JEWS ARE NOT LIABLE FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE TO GENTILES (THE EXCUSE OF “RECIPROCITY” IS GIVEN)
MISHNAH. IN THE CASE OF PRIVATE OWNER’S CATTLE GORING AN OX CONSECRATED TO THE TEMPLE, OR CONSECRATED CATTLE GORING A PRIVATE OX, THERE IS NO LIABILITY, FOR IT IS STATED: THE OX OF HIS NEIGHBOUR, NOT [THAT IS TO SAY] AN OX CONSECRATED TO THE TEMPLE. WHERE AN OX BELONGING TO AN ISRAELITE HAS GORED AN OX BELONGING TO A CANAANITE, THERE IS NO LIABILITY,[12] WHEREAS WHERE AN OX BELONGING TO A CANAANITE GORES AN OX BELONGING TO AN ISRAELITE, WHETHER WHILE TAM OR MU’AD, THE COMPENSATION IS TO BE MADE IN FULL. - 1962 Soncino Babylonian Talmud Baba Kamma 37b
FOOTNOTE 12: As Canaanites did not recognise the laws of social justice, they did not impose any liability for damage done by cattle. They could consequently not claim to be protected by a law they neither recognised nor respected, cf. J. T. a.l. and Maim. Yad, Niz. Mam. VIII, 5. [In ancient Israel as in the modern state the legislation regulating the protection of life and property of the stranger was, as Guttmann. M. (HUCA. III 1 ff.) has shown, on the basis of reciprocity. Where such reciprocity was not recognised, the stranger could not claim to enjoy the same protection of the law as the citizen.]

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