My friends and I are debating whether or not stockpiling disposable utensils from our university dining hall would be considered גזלה (eg taking 10 spoons at once to use for cereal in your own room).

Can anyone think of any מקורות that would shed light on this either way?

  • 2
    When you do it, do you hide the spoons away so nobody sees you taking them out of the dining hall?
    – Daniel
    Jul 16, 2015 at 14:46
  • 1
    Not necessarily. But it's not as if someone is standing and guarding the utensils, so conceivably when the utensils are taken, no one would now.
    – ekom12
    Jul 16, 2015 at 14:53
  • 2
    It sounds like it is. The intention of the utensil supply is for the purpose of eating your current meal, not for saving for future meals. Unless, the owner doesn't mind or expects people to take extras (and, perhaps, the cafeteria owner DOES expect this - in which case, taking a reasonable supply of extras may be OK.) That's a tough call, as you don't really know for certain. Safest idea is to ask someone in charge if you can take a few extras. If you want to act as a Chasid go above the plain rule and only take what you need, even if they DO allow taking extras.
    – DanF
    Jul 16, 2015 at 14:59
  • 2
    Welcome to the site! To learn more about it consider taking the following short tour.
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 16, 2015 at 15:01
  • 1
    @ekom12 Is the "use for cereal in your own room" one of the uses intended by the cafeteria? Jul 16, 2015 at 16:51

3 Answers 3


It presumably depends on the policy of the institution. E.g. my yeshiva expressly prohibited it. If you ask the person in charge and they say it is ok, then you have permission


The Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 359) writes:

אסור לגזול או לעשוק אפילו כל שהוא בין מישראל בין מעכו"ם. ואם הוא דבר דליכא מאן דקפיד ביה שרי, כגון ליטול מהחבילה או מהגדר לחצוץ בו שיניו. ואף זה אוסר בירושלמי ממדת חסידות:

It’s forbidden to steal or exploit (even) any amount, whether from a Jew or a non-Jew; And if it is an object that is not concerning, it is permitted; such as to take [a straw] from a package or [taking a splinter] from the fence to brush his teeth with; and even this is prohibited by the Jeruselamite (Talmud), as a quality of fervency.

The Sema explains the reason to not allow taking even a negligible amount:

ואף זה אוסר בירושלמי הטעם כתב הנ"י דאלו עושה כן כל אחד נמצא החבילה כלה והגדר נהרס עכ"ל:

The reason is, writes the Nemukei Yosef, if everyone would do this, the package would be exhausted and the fence would be ruined.

So, in this case, if the university would never be bothered by the amount of disposable utensils being taken, it is strictly speaking permissible, but recommended not to take any (more than the expected one for that meal, of course). A larger amount (10 at once) that is not necessarily overlooked is forbidden. This is true even if in the particular case the university doesn't care, so long as it is an amount that they might reasonably be strict about (three maybe?); until receiving clear permission. (BTW, the person behind the counter might not be the one who can give permission.)


There's a simple principle of proving it (Mishnah BM 6,2) "כל המשנה ידו על התחתונה", meaning "Whoever changes the established conditions has the lower hand".

As in this case you unanimously behave against the established conditions, the burden of proof (of your innocence) is on you, until then it's Safek Gezel.

EDIT: "the established condition" is considered either by "אזלינן בתר רובא" - "the majority of use/rs" principle, or "אנן סהדי" - "we/everybody would testify" by a Bet Din.

  • 2
    What do you mean by "established conditions" and how do you know what they are here?
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 9, 2017 at 16:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .