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The Torah or Talmud uses two terms for a thief -- the "Gonif", (which is the more familiar term) and the "Gazlin", and two corresponding terms for robbery "Genaiva" and "Gezaila". What is the difference between the two?

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David, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for this question! Please consider registering your account, to give you access to all of the site's features, and to help the site keep track of your contributions. –  Isaac Moses Oct 10 '11 at 15:18
    
I don't know if it's connected with the Halachik meaning, but my father, from Belarus, tells me that in Yiddish, "Ganavim" was used for Jewish thieves, while "Gazlonim" was used for non-Jewish thieves. Interesting note. –  Efraim Jan 16 at 23:52
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2 Answers

A Gazlan is someone who steals openly (a robber), a Ganav is someone who steals quietly (a thief).

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I think that's backwards? –  Alex Oct 10 '11 at 15:38
    
@Alex fixed.... –  Shmuel Brin Oct 10 '11 at 15:46
    
+1. But: While g'zela is robbery, I don't think g'neva is theft: theft is I think a more general term including robbery also. I don't know of a one-word English translation for g'neva, personally. Also, a source would be nice. –  msh210 Oct 10 '11 at 16:29
    
Thank you. Let me refine my question a bit. If someone takes money from you and promises you a service, eg. mowing your law, and then fails to do what he promised, is that person a gazlin or a ganif? On the one hand, there is no force here, on the other hand, it is not secretive. –  David Oct 10 '11 at 18:12
    
@David, or, perhaps, it's neither. In any event, if that's what you mean to ask, then please edit your question so it asks that — or ask another question. –  msh210 Oct 10 '11 at 20:41
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This well-sourced article proposes the logic behind Shmuel Brill's distinction. It concludes that a ganav is one who steals while concealed from view such that he deprives the owner of property without even an objection. The use of force that characterizes a gazlan is comparatively less serious a concern because in such an action no insulting presumptions are made by trying to maintain complicity or subterfuge; objections are simply rebuffed by the use of force. Thus subversive means of depriving people of their property are considered g'neva while blatant ones are considered gazlanus.

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