- When I was 12-14 years old we had large group of friends who joined together to make a selling snacks to the kids in our school, and the profit was to be used to go on vacation together. During the time when I was the cashier I took some snacks for myself. Over time I imagine it came to a sizable bill, but I have no idea what it comes out to. As far as I remember I never took money, but did take product. As time went on I felt very bad, and wanted to return the money to my partners, but was and am too embarrassed to admit to it. I decided to give them each a gift by their wedding of a more sizable sum, ($100), ensuring that it equals more than their share of the amount worth taken. More recently, after starting to do this, I came across a Teshuvah from R’ Moshe Feinstein which seemed that this doesn’t help. I am not sure if this is the same Teshuvah I first saw, but he seems to say that in CM 1:88 under response to question 14. I don’t know if my situation is the same as he is describing. What solutions do I have, and do we Pasken like this Teshuvah of Reb Moshe?
- Also, is this an example of where I am supposed to donate to a public cause? If so, what is a public cause?
- Additionally, if what I returned does work, one of my classmates refused to accept it, I think because it was a little sizeable, and sent it back to me, thanking me, and writing that I should treat it Mamash as if he accepted it. Does that work if he didn’t get it, and didn’t “Mamash as if he accepted it” for this purpose?
- Also, when dealing with things like this, do I have to return based on the cost price of the items, mostly purchased from the store, but some straight from the company, or based on the inflated price sold in the canteen, similar to a corner store?
It is wonderful that you are on the level of doing such a comprehensive teshuva. Regarding your specific questions.
- What R’ Moshe is referring to in that answer was if a person stole money and he is paying tzedakah the money, however what you did was to return the money to the people that you stole from. Although when a person returns stolen money he should let the owner know that he returned his money, however if the owner never realized that money was stolen, there is no need to inform the owner. In your case it is quite possible that the kids running the store or even their partners never realized that anything was stolen. Additionally, b’dieved if you didn’t let them know you were also yotza, even though the owner didn’t know that the “present” was really only returning his money to him.
- There is no need for you to donate to a public cause, because you did much better than that. You return the money to its owner.
- Since the person said that it is as if he received it, it is considered as if you gave it to him and he returned it to you, so you were also yotza with that.
- Usually when a person steals from a store he has to pay them back the selling price and not merely the wholesale price the store paid for it. However, in this instance, since you were one of the partners in the store, you would pay them back the wholesale price for the snacks.
All in all, if you paid etc. kids back $100 for his part in the store, it would seem that you paid everyone back more than what you ate, (unless you ate an astronomical amount) and your teshuva is complete.
סמ”ע סימן רלב ס”ק ז “מתנה. ז”ל הטור [סעיף א’ – ב’], דאיכא למימר במתנה כיון ליתנם לו או גזלו ומתבייש להודיעו וכיון להבליעו לו בחשבון. והוא הדין לכל המקבל מעות מחבירו בין בתורת הלואה בין בתורת פרעון, ואפילו לא היה לו עמו שום עסק מעולם איכא למימר אינש אחרינא מיגזל גזליה וא”ל להאי כי אתי פלוני גבך אבלע ליה בחשבון, עכ”ל”. בשו”ע הרב ה’ גזילה סעיף ח “שמ”מ אותם אנשים שמכיר שגזל מהם חייב להחזיר להם ולא די במה שנהנה ממנו”.
ובענין מחילה, ע’ פתחי חושן הל’ גניבה פ”ד הערה א’, מה שכ’ בענין מחילה אם יצא בזה מצות השבת הגניבה, ולכאורה אם אמר הריני כאילו התקבלתי שזה מספיק.