Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi
"God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me for the earth is filled with robbery through them; and behold, I am about to destroy them from the earth.’"
Rashi explains that the judgment of the generation of the Great Deluge (Maboul) was sealed because of the fact that they stole from one another. Even though the Torah also tells us that there was great sexual degradation between mankind, animals, and beasts – robbery is what decided mankind's fate.
Despite these heinous acts, it was the fact that people stole from each other, that Hashem decided to destroy the earth in a great Maboul. As we see in the Gemara, the Rabbis point out from here how grave the sin of theft is in the eyes of Hashem (Sanhedrin 108a).
What type of theft was it?
The verse calls the theft "Hamas". Midrash Raba explains that Hamas is when one steals less than a "perutah" – or a "penny" in our terms. It is upon this form of theft, the stealing of less than the value of a penny, which the world was destroyed 4107 years ago!
We see in Masechet Baba Qama (119a) that anyone who steals a penny from a poor person, steals his soul. There is an argument in the Gemara whose soul is actually "stolen"- the victim's or the theif's. Because the individual is poor we can understand how stealing a penny from him is like stealing his soul. The more interesting opinion tells us that the soul of the thief is considered stolen in the eyes of heaven! The thief's sin is so grave that it affects his nefesh or soul.
This Man to Man concept- to behave with honesty in business and life when dealing with others- is something that is very lost in our generation. Unfortunately, we must invest time to re-evaluate how we behave and make sure that we are not skimming off a couple of pennies in our daily lives from people we deal with. We have so many opportunities in our complex lives to cheat others. We should turn those opportunities to sin into opportunities to make Qidoush Hashem.
-Hashem contemplated destroying Niniveh (sefer Yonah) because of Hamas
-Hashem did destroy Sedom and Amora because of Hamas
-Hashem did bring the Maboul because of Hamas
In fact, we can learn from Rashi that the generation of the Maboul was worse than the generation that followed it. In the generation after the Maboul, they revolted against Hashem- an entity that they could not see or touch. In the generation of the Maboul, the people sinned against one another, despite being in physical contact with one another. It is harder to understand how one can sin behind the back of a person that they know is there, while it is understandable for one to stumble in their belief in God, that one does not see.