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Rashi to Exodus (21:6) quotes the Mechilta which connects the drilling of the ear of the slave to hearing "don't steal" at Sinai. The obvious question asked by the Moshav Z'keinim (there) is that Rashi and the Mechilta themselves write that this refers not to theft but to kidnapping (Rashi commentary to Exodus 20:13; Mechilta there and here)!

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    But according to Rav Saadia that includes stealing of properties. – user6591 Feb 10 '15 at 22:17
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    Does the Moshav Z'keinim give an answer? – Ypnypn Feb 10 '15 at 22:18
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    Exegetically, chazal say this refers to kidnapping, but the p'shat reading also includes regular theft. – Fred Feb 10 '15 at 22:18
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    @Ypnypn ואע״ג דלא תגנוב מדבר בגונב נפשות דוקא מדבר הלמד מעניינו, ואותו גנב אינו נרצע, והיה לו להביא מלא תגנובו (ויקרא י״ט י״א) שכתוב בגונב ממון. וי״ל משום דכל שם גניבה אחת היא ולא דק בלישניה, ולישנא קלילא נקט. – mevaqesh Feb 10 '15 at 22:22
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    You can also say that "kidnapping" means making a slave of someone and the ear that heard that someone should not make a slave of another went and made a slave of himself. Since I do not have a source for this, I cannot make it an answer. I will check Rav Hirsch when I can. – sabbahillel Feb 10 '15 at 22:23
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Apparently although the Mechilta understood the prohibition to be kidnapping it still recognizes the literal meaning of theft. This is implied by this mechilta and also somewhat implied by this mechilta.

  • I like this answer better than other proposed answers because rather than conjecture, it is based on internal evidence from the Mechilta. – mevaqesh Feb 10 '15 at 23:22
  • You’ve answered for the Mechilta, but how do you answer Rashi? – DonielF Jan 19 '18 at 4:34

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