We have robbed. We have taken what belongs to others and we have caused ourselves to lose what is ours.
Now I am sure there is no one here who would ever steal. Let’s say someone is sleeping and I wake him up. That’s stealing. If I eat at someone’s house who can’t afford to have guests. That’s stealing. Someone deserves Kavod and I don’t give him that honor, I’m stealing his honor. If I cause anyone to lose their dignity, I am stealing their dignity. If I convince someone to buy something that they don’t need or cannot afford, like American advertisers, that’s called stealing. Taking my commentary and don’t quote me, that’s stealing.
Bob Katz: If a poor person invites you, aren’t you giving him something by accepting his invitation?
RSW: You have to make a judgement call. If you’re alone, It just you or you and your wife with him, then it’s probably OK. But if you find out he’s inviting all sorts of other people, I wouldn’t go. Just say, “I really don’t like your wife’s cooking!”
Just imagine how you would feel if you came home and found your house robbed. You’d feel violated. What do you feel when you’re driving on the West Side Highway and someone cuts you off (and then gives you the finger)? You feel violated. These people who cross the street against the light, taking their time, and you miss the light. You feel violated.
The Gemara says that causing someone to feel violated in such a way is causing him or her to lose a part of their lives. There is an element of gazalnu every time you cause a person to feel violated. Having a conversation with someone and you cut them off. That’s gazalnu. You’re talking in Shul and you make it impossible for someone else to daven. That’s gazalnu. The Gemara says that such insensitivity causes a person to lose a part of him or herself. People lose their effectiveness, famine comes to the world, we lose our connection to Hashem, we forfeit our awareness of what belongs to whom, etc. For example, eating without a bracha. The Gemara considers the urge to steal similar to the urge to commit adultery. That’s because we all have the basic urge to make the world our own. Whenever we want to do that, we are reminded that God is A-donai, adon Hakol, Master of Everything, and therefore when we take something that is not ours, we are rejecting God’s mastery.
In Gazalnu we are acknowledging our misuse of God’s world, and that which belongs to others. Just think – you eat a nice, juicy slice of bacon, wow, it tastes so good. Your using your taste buds, your using you mouth, your enjoying chewing, your tummy is filled, everything comes from God. But you are using what God gave you in a destructive way.
There are two types of Yetzer Hara, by the way. You have a Yetzer Hara that fights openly. Do this. Do that. Constant stimulation. The other hides. It lulls you to sleep until it makes you think that it is no longer there and then makes its way in. The name of this Yetzer is Tzefoni – The one who hides. This Yetzer is like a robber – it sneaks in.
Gazalnu includes those times when we are caught napping. We allow our spiritual senses to be dulled. For example, say you’ve been working on speaking very little gossip. It’s now become a natural part of you, so you lower you defenses a little bit. Your Yetzer is not going to attack you right away, because if you let it, you will overcome it quite quickly. (“Wait, wait, I’m not going to bother you, I’m gone, you’ve killed me, I’m never going to have a yetzer hara.”) BOOM! WHAM! Just like that, he’s in. Anytime when you feel you’re making progress and then you feel it’s not a fight anymore, this is the Tzefoni who gets you.