The 5 Towns Jewish Times

Halacha: ‘How to Shoplift’ YouTube Videos

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

There are YouTube Videos that teach people how to go about shoplifting from various stores. There are quite a few that teach a person how to shoplift from Walmart. These Youtube videos are actually filled with what seem to be well thought out pieces of advice.

Imagine, the following case: A frum father and mother force their children to watch these videos. Not only do they force them to watch the videos, they test them on the content. After the theoretical tests come the practicals, or the labs. They physically recreate the Walmart environment and take the children on practical runs. They then rate their performance. Finally, there is graduation. But after all of this, they do not tell them to steal.

Does this sound astounding? It may be a reality. The Mogain Avrohom (OC 165) explains this is a regular occurrence whenever one neglects to educate their children in a career.

The Talmud records a debate (Kiddushin 29b) in the Braisah between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Yehudah. The debate deals with the obligations incumbent upon a father to teach his son. One such obligation is to teach him a career. The commentators explain that the Tanna Kamma holds that one can teach him business skills and that would suffice.

Not so, is the view of Rabbi Yehudah. He is of the opinion that there will be times the son will have no funds to conduct business. He will therefore be forced to steal. The Talmud explains that Rabbi Yehudah states that if one does not teach his son a career (and career skills), it is as if he has taught his son to steal. Kol sh’aino melamed es bno umnus – k’ilu melamdo listos. In other words, whomsoever does not teach his son an umnus is as if he has taken him on the How to Steal From Walmart course of study.

The Gemorah (Bava Metziah 30b), according to Rashi, also understands the verse of vehodata lahem es hderech yelchu va (Shmos 18:20) to mean that one should teach them the way that they should go as referring to how to earn a living.  Although, interestingly enough in Bava Metziah 99b and 100a Rashi states that it refers to Torah.

The point is that we as parents should make sure that our children embark on a career as well as gain the skills necessary to thrive in the workforce. The Mogain Avrohom rules in accordance with Rabbi Yehudah, not the Tanna Kamma. Going into a business may not be the answer. They need a job and job skills.

What about Torah study and Kollel?  To Be Continued..

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