Parsha Mitzvot-Mishpatim-Mitzvah 50 – Concept 468
“If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep or goat, and slaughter it or sell it, he shall pay five cattle in place of the ox, and four sheep in place of the sheep.” (Exodus 21:37) The court must implement punitive measures against the thief. (Rambam, Hilchot Geneivah – The Laws of Theft)
The Sages (Bava Kamma 79b) explain the difference between an ox and a sheep. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai says that the Torah reduced the payment for a sheep because the thief suffered the embarrassment of carrying it on his shoulders as he made his escape. If the embarrassment of even a thief evokes God’s pity, how much more so should we be concerned with the feelings of innocent people.
Yom Kippur Vidui-Confession:
It is worthwhile to consider that when we struggle with guilt over our sins even while wondering how much of our psychology played a role in our destructive actions, that God takes all into consideration: even the embarrassment incurred while sinning!