White Collar Criminals and the Guilt Offering

Parshat Vayikra ends with the concept of the Guilt Offering: “And it shall be, because he had sinned and is guilty, that he shall restore what he took violently away or the thing which he deceitfully acquired, or that was delivered him to keep or the lost thing which he found, or all about which he has sworn falsely, he shall even restore it in the principal and shall add the fifth part more to it…and he shall bring his Guilt Offering to the Lord, a ram without blemish…(Vayikra 5:23-25)”
Nechama Leibowitz points out that before bringing his guilt offering he must first redress the wrong by paying his debt.
It is taught in Bava Kama 9:12: He who made restitution before bringing his Guilt Offering has complied with the law. He who brought his guilt offering before making restitution has not complied with the law.
The Rambam stresses (Hilchot Gzeilah va-Avedah) the fact that the Guilt Offering is not to be brought before the robber has returned the principal to the owner.
In Masechet Yoma 85b we find a similar concept: For transgressions committed against God, Yom Kippur effects atonement, but for transgressions committed against one’s fellow Yom Kippur does not effect atonement until he has appeased his fellow.
Unfortunately when a ‘religious’ person turns out to be a criminal people say: “How can he be a criminal, we see him praying in the synagogue every week?”
Sure he was in the synagogue- after all he had plenty of guilt that he was trying to get off of his chest!
It is hypocritical for a person who has wronged other human beings to go directly to God to ask for forgiveness.
Every day of the year, not just on Yom Kippur, we must be diligent in performing the mitzvoth ‘ben adam lechavero’, between a person and their fellow person as well as the mitzvoth ‘ben adam lemakom’, between a person and God.

White collar criminals (people of respectability and high social status who commit a crime in the course of their occupation) must also be aware that if they steal, they must return the stolen item(s) plus more to the rightful owner or in God’s eyes (no matter how hard they pray) they will never be off the hook.