OPPRESSION


OPPRESSION
OPPRESSION (Heb. עָפְרָה), an offense against property, standing midway between theft and robbery and fraud and often overlapping with either of them. The injunction, rendered in English as "Thou shalt not oppress thy neighbor" (Lev. 19:13), really means (like the injunction immediately following: "nor rob him") that you must not try to enrich yourself by, or derive any material benefit from, any violation of your neighbor's rights. The exact dividing line between oppression (coercion) and robbery gave rise to a discussion among talmudic scholars: where a man failed to restore property to its lawful owner, some held that it was oppression if he admitted the other's ownership, and robbery if he denied it; others held it to be oppression if he asserted that he had already returned it, and robbery if he refused to return it; a third opinion was that it was oppression if he denied that he had ever received the property, and robbery if he asserted that he had already returned it; a fourth scholar held that oppression and robbery were essentially identical terms (BM 111a). The proximity in the Bible of the offenses of stealing, deceit, perjury, oppression, and robbery (Lev. 19:11–13) led an ancient authority to observe that he who steals will eventually commit deceit, perjury, oppression, and robbery (Sifra 3:2); and it is in reliance on the same authority that oppression per se has been held by some to be limited to the crime of withholding a laborer's wages (ibid. 3:2; cf. Rashi to Lev. 19:13). The particular oppression of laborers, in withholding their wages, is the subject of a special prohibition, accompanied by a mandatory injunction   that the payment of such wages may not be delayed even for one night (Deut. 24:14–15; see labor law ). The definition of oppression, as it eventually emerged, is given by Maimonides in the following terms: "Oppression is the forceful withholding and not restoring of money which had been received with the owner's consent, as, for instance, where a man had taken a loan or hired a house and, on being asked to return the same, is so violent and hard that nothing can be got out of him" (Yad, Gezelah va-Avedah 1:4; and cf. ḤM 359:8). Although it is in the nature of a criminal offense, no punishment can be inflicted for such oppression, as the proper remedy is an order for the payment of the money due, and civil and criminal sanctions are mutually exclusive (see flogging ). But the guilt before God subsists even after payment, hence a sacrificial penalty is imposed on the oppressor (Lev. 5:23–26). Oppressors are also regarded as criminals so as to disqualify them as witnesses before the court (Sanh. 25b; Yad, Edut 10:4). As against strangers, the prohibition of oppression is extended to cover also intimidations and importunities (Ex. 22:20; 23:9), even where no violation of monetary rights is involved (BM 59b and Rashi ibid.). Monetary oppression has frequently been denounced as one of the most reprehensible of offenses (Jer. 21:12; 22:17; Ezek. 22:29; Zech. 7:10; Mal. 3:5; Ps. 62:11; 72:4–5; et al.), and its elimination as one of the conditions precedent to national and religious survival (Jer. 7:6). In the State of Israel, the offense consists of taking advantage of the distress, the physical or mental weakness, or the inexperience or lightheadedness of another person in order to obtain something not legally due, or profiteering from services rendered or commodities sold (Sect. 13, Penal Law Amendment (Deceit, Blackmail and Extortion) Law, 5723–1963). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Elon, Ha-Mishpat Ha-Ivri (1988), III, 1464; Ibid., Jewish Law (1994), IV, 1739; Section 431 of the Penal Law, 5737–1937; C.A. 719/78, Ilit Ltd et al v. Alko Ltd, 34 (4), 673, 686–187. (Haim Hermann Cohn)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • oppression — [ ɔpresjɔ̃ ] n. f. • déb. XIIIe; plur. « violences, dommages » XIIe; lat. oppressio 1 ♦ Action, fait d opprimer. Oppression du faible par le fort. ⇒ domination; joug. Oppression des minorités. Absolt Action de faire violence par abus d autorité.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • oppression — op·pres·sion /ə pre shən/ n: an unjust or excessive exercise of power: as a: unlawful, wrongful, or corrupt exercise of authority by a public official acting under color of authority that causes a person harm b: dishonest, unfair, wrongful, or… …   Law dictionary

  • Oppression — Op*pres sion, n. [F., fr. L. oppressio.] 1. The act of oppressing, or state of being oppressed. [1913 Webster] 2. That which oppresses; a hardship or injustice; cruelty; severity; tyranny. The multitude of oppressions. Job xxxv. 9. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • oppression — mid 14c., cruel or unjust use of power or authority, from Fr. oppression (12c.), from L. oppressionem (nom. oppressio), noun of action from pp. stem of opprimere (see OPPRESS (Cf. oppress)). Meaning action of weighing on someone s mind or spirits …   Etymology dictionary

  • Oppression — (lat.), Unterdrückung, Beklemmung (z.B. der Brust); oppressīv, unterdrückend; opprimieren, unterdrücken, bedrücken …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • oppression — [n] misery, hardship abuse, abusiveness, autocracy, brutality, calamity, coercion, compulsion, conquering, control, cruelty, despotism, dictatorship, domination, fascism, force, forcibleness, hardness, harshness, injury, injustice, iron hand*,… …   New thesaurus

  • oppression — Oppression, Oppressio …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • oppression — [ə presh′ən] n. [OFr < L oppressio] 1. an oppressing or being oppressed 2. a thing that oppresses 3. a feeling of being weighed down, as with worries or problems; physical or mental distress …   English World dictionary

  • Oppression — Oppressed redirects here. For the Welsh band, see The Oppressed. For other uses, see Oppression (disambiguation). Oppression derives from the concept of being weighted down, and is often depicted as such. Here, a cartoon Jew labors under the… …   Wikipedia

  • oppression — (o prè sion ; en vers, de quatre syllabes) s. f. 1°   État de ce qui est oppressé.    Terme de médecine. Oppression des forces, état dans lequel le malade, loin de manquer de forces, est embarrassé de leur excès ; c est ce que l on observe au… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré


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