There are many items that are no longer tracked by the corporation. If there is an audit they would rather get rid of these items than try to track them now. In addition, aside from audits this equipment will most likely be destroyed if they do find it.

Can it be taken for personal use without explicit permission from the company?

  • why was this voted down ? – DES Apr 19 at 21:29
  • Perhaps because the question isn't worded very clear. I'd suggest editing and making what you're trying to say easier to understand. I understand, and I give a +1 – ezra Apr 19 at 22:35
  • 2
    Has the company given employees permission to take the items or do they require that it be kept and used until it is completely unusable? If the company knows and disaproves, then it is gezel. – sabbahillel Apr 19 at 22:59
  • Isn't it easier to go to your superior and ask? – Kazi bácsi Apr 20 at 5:08
  • In one of my past lives, I worked for an international corporation that, in order to avoid the import/export headaches of returning samples/prototypes to the country of origination, would do something known as "destruction drawback". This involved a witness watching us smash up the items with a sledgehammer-good fun after lunch!-in order to avoid taxes/duty/shipping expenses on the objects. Sometimes, however, the item was listed as destroyed, but put to use(usually temporary, as it was a well used or experimental item) by one of the higher ups. This question reminded me of those days. – Gary Apr 20 at 16:22
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Rambam Hilchot Gneivah 1:2

אָסוּר לִגְנֹב כָּל שֶׁהוּא דִּין תּוֹרָה. וְאָסוּר לִגְנֹב דֶּרֶךְ שְׂחוֹק אוֹ לִגְנֹב עַל מְנָת לְהַחְזִיר אוֹ עַל מְנָת לְשַׁלֵּם הַכּל אָסוּר שֶׁלֹּא יַרְגִּיל עַצְמוֹ בְּכָךְ:

According to the law of the Torah, it is forbidden to steal the smallest amount. It is likewise forbidden to steal in jest, or to steal with the intention of returning the object or paying for it. All this is forbidden, lest one may become addicted to it.

אֵיזֶה הוּא גַּנָּב זֶה הַלּוֹקֵחַ מָמוֹן אָדָם בַּסֵּתֶר וְאֵין הַבְּעָלִים יוֹדְעִים. כְּגוֹן הַפּוֹשֵׁט יָדוֹ לְתוֹךְ כִּיס חֲבֵרוֹ וְלָקַח מְעוֹתָיו וְאֵין הַבְּעָלִים רוֹאִין. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה.

Who is a thief? One who takes a person's property secretly without the owner's knowledge, as when he puts his hand into someone's pocket and takes money out without the awareness of the owner, and so on.

It's apparent from the above, that one is not allowed to take something even if the owner doesn't need the product. While it might not say those words specifically, I believe it's obvious that if one is not allowed to take something from a store even if he has in mind to pay later, then obviously one cannot take something that might not be needed, unless there's explicit permission from the company.

The previous, accepted answer is too simplistic albeit the sources are true.

  1. The main problem in your answer is to establish ownership because the main question here and in all other cases of monetary disagreements is who's called מוחזק of the stuff. There are two possible solutions:

    • the stuff is owned by the company at all times.
    • the stuff is owned by the company as long as it is usable, and when declared unusable it is considered abandoned.
  2. The answer about stealing fits the first scenario but not the second (see the clarification below). The second scenario can be regarded generally as "אבידה מדעת" or "הפקר". It can be also divided into two sub-scenarios:

    • the stuff is explicitly declared as waste by the management
    • the stuff is unanimously considered as waste without the management's confirmation.
  3. Once the stuff is declared as waste by the management it surely bears the status of "אבידה מדעת" and can be taken without their specific permission on every item.

  4. Once the stuff is declared not usable but is not officially declared as abandoned, but everybody knows that it is - that's the tricky situation. This is similar to what the Gemmoarah discusses in BM: the questionable property such as fruits of a tree that fall outside the fence - are they still considered their owner's or אבידה מדעת.

  5. There are different approaches to resolving such a situation:

    • consult the local laws (דינא דמלכותא) including the corporate's internal regulations - will you be incriminated for such behavior - if yes, it's wrong with the Torah also.
    • take it to yourself and wait until claimed. It's not a steal if you claim it was abandoned, so the other party must prove otherwise.
  6. Clarification on stealing (גניבה or גזל): It has two parts: the monetary (בין אדם לחבירו) which is a subject to repay and ethical (בין אדם למקום) which is the wrongful thought of stealing. So theoretically one who takes something legal (postfactum) but fells that's a steal also transgresses this commandment. On the other hand, if he takes it rightfully but he's proven that the item was not הפקר, he only transgresses the first part בשוגג and postfactum.

The fineprint: the last distinction applies to non-J, גזל גוי is forbidden only because of the second part, as it "deforms the Jewish soul", but the monetary part is forgiven, כמו אחד שלוח מקל מכלב.

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