The Goniff And The Gazlan



In Torah law there are two classes of thieves. There is the gazlan, a brazen strongman who takes what is not his, not caring who sees. The law is that he must pay back whatever he takes.

Then there is the goniff, the stealthy thief. If he is caught (but not if he turns himself in willingly), he must pay double what he took (or even more in the case of a thief who then sells or slaughters the sheep or ox that he stole).

Why the difference? The gazlan is a pretty evil guy. Fearing neither G‑d nor man, he chooses to break the law and let the chips fall where they may. But the goniff is afraid of humans, which is why he operates on the sly; however, he has no compunctions about being observed by the Master of the Universe—essentially denying the existence of Divine justice! In the words of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai: “May G‑d grant that you fear G‑d as much as you fear flesh and blood.”