Character Traits - Falsehood and Depletion

Midrash Shochar Tov says by way of metaphor:

”Two by two they came to Noach in the Ark” (Bereishis 7:9). “Falsehood” came and wanted to enter the Ark. Noach told it, “You cannot enter unless you bring along a mate.” Falsehood then met Depletion [the capacity for man’s possessions to become damaged or lost to him]. Depletion asked Falsehood, “Whence do you come?” Falsehood replied, “From the Ark, for I desired to enter it, but Noach would not permit this unless I bring along a mate. Will you be my mate?”

“And what will you give me in return?” Depletion asked.

“I will arrange with you,” said Falsehood, “that whatever I prepare [for a person to acquire through dishonesty], you will take away.”

The agreement was made, and together they entered the Ark. When they left the Ark, whatever a person acquired through Falsehood, Depletion took away. When Falsehood protested this, Depletion retorted, “Was it for naught that we made our agreement?” Falsehood had nothing to reply. This is what is meant by, “He is pregnant with evil schemes and gives birth to falsehood” (Tehillim 7:15).

There is a simple explanation as to why the Midrash associates the connection between falsehood and depletion with Noach and the Ark. Until the Flood, the attribute of slow to anger, was dominant as HaShem did not exact punishment from generations that were steeped in sin — including the sin of robbery, which usually involves much lying and deception. Wicked people saw that money which they had accumulated through dishonesty remained in their families over the course of generations. As a result of their apparent successes, they embraced the sin of robbery wholeheartedly, engaging in it throughout their lives, and the world became filled with it.

However, after the Flood, HaShem conducted the world differently. From then on, whatever would be earned through falsehood and deception would be lost through depletion, as it is written, “ who amasses wealth unjustly, in the middle of his days it will leave him” (Yirmiyahu 17:11). People take note of this and learn a lesson.

Moreover, the money which a person earns through lying and deception will bring about the loss of the money which he had earned honestly. Masechta Derech Eretz Zuta states: “If you take what is not yours, then what is yours will be taken from you.” All that one will be left with are the sins of lying and deception.