If a child lives in his parent’s home, and uses the stuff in the house, eats the food in the house, etc, what can be used to say that he is not stealing?

For example, how can a child live in his parent's house and use everything and Halacha doesn’t consider this stealing?

Is it because the parents bought everything such as the snacks with an intent for the child to eat them?

How is this explained halachicaly? Thanks!

  • 4
    As you mentioned in your question, it's not stealing if the parent allows the child to freely partake of the items. It's no different than if a random guy on the street allows you to use an item (albeit with a lot more items being allowed by 'default'). Of course, a parent has the right to restrict permission on the child using specific items, and if the child would use it, then it would be considered stealing. Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:36
  • Great question! I agree with @Salmononius2's comment to a point. I would assume that if the parent tells a child "Don't eat this", but they do it anyway, isn't that stealing? What about the mess that kids leave in the bedroom and all the other rooms in your house and you have to clean up after them? Isn't that "time stealing"?
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


The concept of stealing from one's parents does exist.

We see it by Ben-Sorer, who only qualifies once he steals from his parents. (Sanhedrin Mishna 8:3 - אֵינוֹ נַעֲשֶׂה בֵן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה, עַד שֶׁיִּגְנֹב מִשֶּׁל אָבִיו)

We also have Mishnayot that discuss how to return stolen goods from one's parents after their demise. (E.g. bava Kama Mishna 7:2 - גָּנַב מִשֶּׁל אָבִיו וְטָבַח וּמָכַר וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵת אָבִיו)

So you cannot simply go around your parents' house using their private property.

Unless, of course, they give you explicit or implicit permission to use certain items. I think that these 2 paragraphs in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch - סימן קפב - הלכות גנבה וגזלה sum it up:

:סעיף י"ג אָסוּר לֵהָנוֹת מִשׁוּם דָּבָר שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתּוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבָּרוּר לוֹ שֶׁכְּשֶיִוָּדַע לִבְעָלָיו יִשְׂמְחוּ וְיָגִילוּ מִפְנֵי אַהֲבָתָם אוֹתוֹ. מִכָּל מָקוֹם אָסוּר. לְפִיכָךְ הַנִּכְנָס לְפַרְדֵּס אוֹ לְגִנַּת חֲבֵרוֹ, אָסוּר לוֹ לִלְקֹט פֵּרוֹת שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעַת הַבְּעָלִים. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבַּעַל הַפַּרְדֵּס וּבַעַל הַגִּנָּה אוֹהֲבוֹ וְרֵעוֹ אֲשֶׁר כְּנַפְשוֹ, וּבְּוַדַּאי יִשְׂמַח וְיָגִיל כְּשֶׁיִוָּדַע לוֹ שֶׁנֶּהֱנָה זֶה מִפֵּרוֹתָיו, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁעַכְשָו אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ מִזֶה, הֲרֵי הוּא נֶהֱנֶה בְּאִסּוּר. וְצָרִיךְ לְהַזְהִיר לָרַבִּים, שֶׁנִּכְשָׁלִין בָּזֶה מֵחֲמַת חֶסְרוֹן יְדִיעָה. ‏

Roughly: "One may not use other people's property without their knowledge, even if you know for a fact they will be thrilled once they find out."

So, once they know you're using their stuff, and they don't make an effort to keep it out of reach o put it in a room you're not expected to enter (e.g. their bedroom or private study) then one can use it even without explicit knowledge.

:סעיף י"ד וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם מֻתָּר לְבֶן בֵּיתוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם לִתֵּן פְּרוּסָה לְעָנִי אוֹ לִבְנוֹ שֶׁל אוֹהֲבוֹ שֶׁל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתּוֹ, לְפִי שֶׁכָּךְ נָהֲגוּ בַּעֲלֵי הַבָּתִּים. וְאֵין זֶה נִקְרָא שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעַת הַבְּעָלִים, כֵּיוָן שֶׁכָּךְ נָהֲגוּ, וְהַבְּעָלִים יוֹדְעִין מִזֶּה הַמִּנְהָג. וּמִטַּעַם זֶה, מֻתָּר לְקַבֵּל צְדָקָה מִן הַנָּשִׁים דָּבָר מֻעָט שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעַת הַבְּעָלִים, הוֹאִיל וְדַרְכָּן בְּכָךְ, וְיוֹדְעִין הַבְּעָלִים שֶׁדַּרְכָּן בְּכָךְ. וְכֵן בְּפַרְדֵּס, אִם הוּא רָגִיל בּוֹ לֶאֱכֹל מִפֵּרוֹתָיו מִדַּעַת הַבְּעָלִים, מֻתָּר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיוֹצֵא בָזֶה. ‏

"Household members may away give small amounts of food, since this is accepted (and expected) behavior"

So anything that is a normal way to behave is considered not stealing. Noshing on food lying around is OK, but helping yourself to a choice piece of frozen meat to BBQ with your buddies may not be.

"Eating from your buddy's orchard with his knowledge is permitted" - as we assumed above.

To summarize: Anything that's normal (in that day & age & society) for a child to be using is not stealing - the child is allowed to use it unless explicitly told not to.

Anything the child is not expected to be touching would be stealing if they used it.

  • 1
    +1. I was literally halfway through wrting an answer that expanded my comment using very similar sources to what you have here (the only differences I had were I was going add Kitzur 182:11 as the proof that there are certain things that don't fall under 'implied permission' in a household, and bring in 182:2 to contrast the very minimum 'implied permission' in most scenarios). But you beat me to it, well done! :) Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 13:51

Danny's answer is almost perfect, I need to clarify the summary paragraph:

To summarize: Anything that's normal (in that day & age & society) for a child to be using is not stealing - the child is allowed to use it unless explicitly told not to.

This statement is generally true, but we hold that "אין הולכים אחר הרוב בממון", therefore it IS up to the parents to decide what's allowed and what's prohibited in the house - the majority cannot override personal rules.

In other words, the kid can not claim - "all of my friends eat all the food from the fridge without asking - you can't tell me what to do" - WRONG, the majority does not decide in ממונות.

On the other hand, there are two "sorts" of stealing - לכתחילה and בדיעבד.

  • Stealing a-priori means the kids know for sure it is explicitly forbidden, e.g the father told him not to eat that ice cream it's for Mom.

  • Stealing a-posteriori means we don't know if it is stealing unless we find out all the necessary information. In such case, there's a חזקה which IS based on the majority. In other words, the kid CAN take the ice-cream as the חזקה is that he's allowed to eat it, it will only be revealed retroactively that he UNINTENTIONALLY stole it.

THe next step is to discuss if it IS stealing is the kid obligated to pay and how?

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