By Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski
Towards the end of this week’s Sedra the Torah instructs us regarding a person who stole a possession from his fellow. The Torah discusses a few cinarios, but in all of them the bottom line is that they stole something from someone else. The Torah tells us that on the day of their sin they shall not only repay their theft and its fine, but they also need to bring a Sin offering. The Torah is somewhat ambiguous as to what the day of their sin means. Hence the Targumim differ as to how they interprate “the day of their sin”.
The Targum Yonasson explains it to mean the day that they admit to having sinned; this is a highly plausible and easily understood explanation. However, the Unklus translates literally as on the day of their sin – meaning: the day of their theft. Unklus’s translation leaves us rather open ended as to what that means. If someone has sinned by stealing in some form from his fellow, then why should we assume that he is going to repay him right away? Furthermore we are referring to a case where he is caught and not where he simply confessed and returned the stolen object. This is evident from the fact that the Torah refers to his repaying his theft together with its fine (although the Targum Yonasson explains the day of their sin to mean the day when they admit to having sinned, this isn’t a problem because even when they are caught they are still required to confess verbally as part of their Teshuva process). There is no reason to assume that the theft, the trial, the conviction and the retribution all would occur in the same day.
Perhaps the Torah and even the Targum Unklus aren’t being so literal, but rather are coming to teach us a lesson for sinners: Hashem doesn’t expect that there should be no sinners amongst Klal-Yisroel. Hashem doesn’t even expect that Klal-Yisroel’s sinners will admit on their own accord right away. What Hashem does expect is that somehow we the community of Klal-Yisroel should worry that justice is achieved in the shortest and most instantaneous way possible. That the “day” a theft is committed it should be dealt with immediately.
It is our job to make sure that in our communities’ justice prevails.