A thief is regarded as one of the most despicable of creatures. A thief is anyone who takes something that belongs to another without his consent!
Therein lies the explanation. To obey this Commandment rightly, a man need do nothing more than always to distinguish clearly what belongs to the other person! Everyone will immediately say to himself that this is not difficult. And with that he already dismisses the matter. Certainly, it is not difficult, just as it is not really difficult to obey all of the Ten Commandments, if only one genuinely wishes to do so. But the condition always remains in place, that man really knows them properly. And it is in this that many fall short. In order to obey this Commandment, have you ever truly given thought to what actually is the property of another, from which you must not take anything?
There is his money, jewellery, clothes, perhaps also a house and farm, with cattle and all that goes with it. But the Commandment does not state that it concerns only gross material, earthly goods! Indeed, there are values far more precious still! A man's property includes his reputation, the esteem in which he is held in public, his thoughts, his individuality, as well as the confidence he enjoys from others, if not from all, then at least from this or that person! Having come this far many a prideful soul will become rather less self-confident with respect to the Commandment. For ask yourself: have you never attempted, perhaps in good faith, to shake or completely undermine someone’s confidence in another through cautionary warnings? If you have done so, you have quite literally robbed the one who enjoyed this confidence! For you have taken it from him! Or at least you have made the attempt to do so.
You have also robbed your neighbor if you know something of his circumstances and pass on this knowledge without the permission of the one concerned. You can recognize from this how gravely entangled in the net of guilt are all those who seek to profit from doing such things, or make them their business, such as credit agencies or the like. The self-entanglements as consequence of such activities in continual transgression of the Divine Commandment entail a net so enormous that these people can never free themselves and remain abandoned to damnation; for they are all more heavily burdened than gross material burglars and thieves. Guilty, and akin to receivers of stolen goods, are those who support and encourage such “businessmen” in their sinful activity. Every upright and honest man, whether private individual or businessman, has the right and the duty to demand disclosure and, if necessary, records directly from anyone who comes to him with a request, whereupon he can decide how far he can trust him and comply with his wishes. All else is unsound and reprehensible.
Fulfillment of this Commandment at the same time also has the effect of awakening the intuitive perception more and more, and of developing and uncovering its abilities. Man thereby obtains the right knowledge of human nature, which he lost only out of indolence. Gradually he will lose his dead, mechanical traits, and will become a living human being once more. Genuine personalities arise, whereas the herd-animal that is bred today must disappear.
Take the trouble to reflect deeply about this, and see to it that in the pages of your debt register you do not after all find this Commandment much transgressed indeed!