Contributed by: Rabbi Haim Shaul
Our sages say that one of the crimes of that generation was the fact that they would deceive and lie to each other.
The Talmoud says that "at the head of the list of thieves are those who steal the minds of others". The expression "stealing the mind of others" (Genevat Daat) refers to a person who deceives.
The term is a very unusual choice of words from our Rabbis.
If a person believes you, he gives you his trust. IF you are truthful, you return that trust. IF you are untruthful, you have taken his trust and returned nothing. This is a form of theft. We can see how our sages chose their words wisely.
This insight is very profound. We may not realize that "shading the truth" is like theft, but that is how it registers in our subconscious minds, and the effects can be far-reaching. Once you commit theft of any kind, your resistance to theft is weakened and compromised, which can lead to actual physical stealing.
But of even greater importance is the effect it can have on our children. Such behavior can set a dangerous precedent for our children that is very difficult to undo. If we discover our children being dishonest, we have to examine ourselves and see if we are the one's who established and founded such behavior.