Hi it’s now before Rosh Hashana and I would like to do teshuva on a very big sin I did. I hope you can help me with that.

I work in a retail store stand by the register and took some times money without writing it down sometimes, and I also took some merchandise with writing it down. I would like to do teshuva on this. What should i do?

P.S. on the same note I worked years ago in a different store and took from there merchandise and that store went out of business and i would like to repay him too. How can i do that? I don’t know how much money worth i took. Please help me. We say in the prayer of neilah on lemaan nechdal meioyshek – it seems to me that the sin of stealing is very bad so i would like to clean that up before rosh hashana but please note i am struggling very hard financially so i wont be able to pay everything at once, but at least start. Thanks – may you all be blessed with a happy sweet year.

Answer:

This is a tough question.

In principle, you have to return that which you stole – meaning, all of the money that you took, and the value of the items that you stole. If you are unsure as to how much this is, you have to pay back a sum that will certainly be enough to cover the value.

In your current circumstances you cannot pay back everything, but you should at least begin. Start giving back sums of money every week, and create a program by which you will pay everything back within a couple of months.

Teshuva is a process. Hashem wants to see that we repent from our misdeeds and are on a path of “rehabilitation,” a path of mending that will reach out into the future and better our ways.

Good luck with this and best wishes for the coming year.

Sources:

The Talmud (Bava Kama 94b) relates a story of a serial thief who decided to repent and return all the property that he had stolen over the years. His wife said to him, “”Fool! If you repent you will have to give back even the belt you are wearing [because everything you own is stolen property]!” On considering this, he decided not to repent. As a consequence of this story, the Rabbis, who wanted to encourage thieves to repent decided to remove this possible impediment and instituted an amnesty for a thief who voluntarily comes forward to repent.

However, this applies only to a “renowned thief” and not to the case of the question (see Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpot 366). In our case, the penitent must repay the theft. This will also apply to the previous store – the money must be repaid to its owner.

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