“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Tell the children of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins against man to act treacherously against G-D, and that person is found guilty, they shall confess the sin they committed, and make restitution for the principle amount of his guilt, add its fifth to it, and give it to the one against whom he was guilty” (Bamidbar 5:5-7).
says: “Tradition teaches that this pasuk refers to stealing from a convert in the days of the Bei HaMikdash. For indeed, if one robs him he is making a chillul Hashem (profanes the Name of G-D) in the eyes of the convert who came to find protection under His wings. Therefore, he is called ‘one who trespasses against the sacred’ and is required to bring a guilt offering as is the law regarding all who trespass against Him.” (Click here
for Hebrew text.)
The Sforno is teaching us that there is a tradition, dating all the way back to Har Sinai, that these verses are referring to a specific transgression
of stealing from a convert. This, in turn, is more severe than normal stealing, since it creates an incredible chillul Hashem, and is therefore treated as if one is מועל בקודש
, meaning it is as though a person actually used holy property, which has its own set of rules and severe punishments.
However this is a bit puzzling; because in reality, what was stolen was not הקדש; rather it was belonging to a convert, and was not designated to be used in the Beis HaMikdash. So how can it be treated in the same manner, even bringing the same sacrifice for committing such a sin?
We see from here how special a convert is in the eyes of Hashem. He sacrificed everything to accept the yoke of Heaven, so Hashem literally takes him under His wing and treats him and his property as literally His own.
Similarly, we find in Gemara Berachos 34b: “Rebbe Abahu said, ‘In a place where baalei teshuva (the penitent) stand completely righteous people don’t stand.” The Chidushei Geonim
in the Ein Yaakov
clarifies that Rebbe Abahu must be saying baalei teshuva are better than the complete righteous only if they repented out of love of Hashem, as it says in Gemara Yoma daf 86 that his willful sins are transformed into merits but if one repented out of fear then his willful sins are only downgraded to accidents, and if so it does not make sense that this type of baal teshuva is better than a completely righteous person.” (Click here
for Hebrew text.)
In any event, we see that when one changes one’s own lifestyle, Hashem will change the world, turning sins into reward (or at least accidents). Those who repent out of pure love for Hashem and realize that they did wrong and want to be better because they realize how much Hashem loves them and they love Him back, andso only want to express that love for Him – they are treated better than those who never sinned and are completely righteous.
A person born Jewish who repents out of love for Hashem and a convert have something in common, for a convert is not allowed to convert out of fear. They have made significant changes to their lives for the love and Sake of Heaven. Hashem in turn takes great strides to treat them with extra special attention.