Protecting Our Children: Does a Bakery Have a Soul?

There is a verse in Devarim/Deuteronomy Ch 19 v 14 “you shall not move a boundary of your fellow, which the early ones marked out…

This teaches us that we are forbidden to encroach on land owned by our neighbor and not to move his markers so as to enlarge our  portion. Although this refers to the biblical land of Israel it has become universally understood to not encroach on your neighbors house or business. It is known by the term ‘masig gvul’ the crossing of a boundary.

Say a small businessman wishes to open a bakery in a Jewish community. 

He spends much time scoping various Jewish neighborhoods to determine where there is a shortage of bakeries and he could earn a living. He then invests a good sum of his time and life savings to open his store.

Immediately thereafter another person opens a bakery down the street within earshot of the other bakery.

The first bakery owner then summons this second bakery owner to a a bais din a Jewish court citing this verse of masig gvul.

His contention is this encroachment will prevent him from earning a decent living and petitions the court to remove this obstacle by requiring the new bakery to close.

Countless such examples of encroachment have been brought before bateii dinim Jewish courts, throughout Jewish communities.

These courts have issued rulings be it in favor of the plaintiff or not. Not only have small business owners brought these claims before these Jewish courts so too have yeshivas, and shuls (schools and synagogues).

Such issues are litigated in Jewish Courts as well as in secular Courts.

Disputes of encroachment in business are as old as history itself. So too are disputes of encroachment in land.

Wars have been fought over the ‘disputed territories’ of the West Bank in Israel, in Chechneya, The Falkland Islands, Turkey and Armenia, North and South Korea.

The establishment of boundaries are taken very seriously by businesses and by countries and consequential encroachment of same often results in seeking legal remedy to repel intruders or in the case of nation states a war.

This is a concept easily understood.

We need to follow a similar argument when a boundary is crossed on a child.

The single most important creation in this world bar none is a human life.

Certainly more important than a bakery or land.

When a child’s boundary is intruded upon physically or sexually the very same repelling actions taken by a business owner that are countenanced to protect his assets should be similarly supported when initiated by this child’s parents to protect his body.

The remedy the parents seek is the immediate removal of the intruder who is ‘masig gvul’ of this childs body and soul.

Responsa in Jewish law dealing with financial disputes is voluminous. Consequently Jewish courts have for many centuries and to the present day successfully mediated such disputes. The concept of ‘masig gvul’ has extended into many societal mores a respect for another’s property, for a business and even his employees. Executives upon leaving a company sign a non disclosure agreement involving copyrighted patents. Think Coke, Apple and the like. All done in the interests of protecting a company’s ‘boundaries’.

Genome research has proven that every human has a distinct DNA. Our bodies are copyrighted and each of us is an owner.

Any unwanted encroachment, any infringement is a violation and should similarly grant us a right to protect our G-D given DNA.

Just as a small business owner protects his livelihood or a nation protects its borders and citizenry so too we as parents have an obligation to protect our children from any person who encroaches upon his/her body.

S/he has every legal and moral right to repel this intruder through every remedy available to them bar none.

A bakery owner may take immediate action to protect his business. A nation may take years or decades to protect its borders.

Until G-D takes back a persons soul every child, adolescent and adult has a right to protect themselves from intruders.

Saving a child’s soul is more important than saving a bakery irrespective of how long it takes.

About the Author
David Mandel is Chief Executive Officer of OHEL Children's Home and Family Services in New York