Question:

Hi Rabbi,
I have a business in partnership with someone who is also my best friend. I have taken a lot of cash when available without her knowing when my family was in need. We usually split any cash or profit if it comes from our business account. There have been many times for many years that i have just taken the cash if my family needs it without telling her that i have it. I want to repair this… Although i would like to tell her in person, i am very embarrassed by it and i dont have the money now to repay. And i also dont know how much to repay since i didnt take note of the money i’ve taken. I’ve always had the intent to pay the money back but we’ve havent had the money or it wasnt my priority. She doesnt know that i’ve been taking the money… :(

What can i do? What should i do? i know i have done something wrong towards my business partner and abused her trust… I have asked Hashem for forgiveness.. i dont want this to hold me back in my relationship with Him or the blessings he has in store for me….

Answer:

This is a very difficult situation, and you are very smart for wanting to correct this and do teshuva. Aside from the fact that it is a big aveiro, but even practically, because when a person has stolen money it negatively effects his finances, and also blocks his tefillos.

Nevertheless, the situation is repairable, and you can get complete forgiveness although it will not be easy – but it is doable. The first thing you have to do is to sit down and try to calculate, how much money you stole. The way to do this is to calculate how many years this has been going on for, how often did you take money and how much you took. Since this will only be an approximation, you should then add to that sum to make sure that you indeed have a number that is not less than what you took. Now that you have the amount, you can return the money to your partner slowly, in a hidden way, by quietly adding money to the business account. She will then take extra profit, which is really the money that you are returning to her. For example if you return $100 one week, and she will then profit $50 from that, (the other $50 you are taking) then you can deduct $50 from the debt.  Make sure that you keep a record of how much you returned and how much you still owe her. Each week or so you can do this and slowly you will work down the debt. (You can return the money to her in other quiet ways, and this is only a suggestion.) If indeed she didn’t know that anything was taken from her you don’t have to inform her, and you can do all of this secretively.

When a person tries to do teshuva, H-shem helps, and He will help you manage to return everything you took. I once heard a story of a man that had a paper goods company, and instead of putting 100 cups in a sleeve he was putting in 97. This went on for a while, and then he decided to do teshuva, and he went to R’ Y. Kaminetsky zt”l to ask him what he should do, because he doesn’t know how much he took or even who the thousands of customers who bought cups from him. R’ Yackov advised him that from now on he should add three cups to each sleeve, and hopefully the same people that bought cups from him will again buy and they will then get back their three cups, and slowly he will return all that he stole. This is what he did, and this lasted for a number of years, that he added a number of cups to each package. One day there was an investigative reporter that decided to check up how honest the various paper goods companies are. So he bought paper goods from all the various companies, and he reported his findings, which he then published it one of the major newspapers in America. He reported as follows, company X puts in only 97 cups, company Y 98, company Z 97, but the frum person’s company puts is 103!! This was a major kiddush H-shem, that it became known to all that the frum person’s business was honest. The man then went to tell R’ Yackov about this, and R’ Yackov told him that it is a siman from shomayim that his teshuva was accepted.

IY”H H-shem will help you also and you will manage to pay back everything, and have an abundance of parnossa.

Sources:

Midrash Shemos Rabba 22-3, Tractate Shabbos 34b, Sefas Tamim chap. 3&4, Choshen Mishpat 355-1, Igros Moshe CH:M 1-68 (15).

Sources:

 

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