The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with robbery. (Genesis 6:13)
The generation of the flood committed countless sins, but as Rashi explains, their sentence was not sealed except on account of the Gezel (robbery) they committed.
Additionally, as the Midrash explains (Bereishis Rabbah 31:5), their thievery took place in small and petty amounts that were beyond the reach and enforcement of the law and court system (ie. less than the value of a perutah).
I believe that there’s a crucial lesson to be learned here.
A Jew must ask himself, “What does Hashem want from me? What are the standards and levels He wishes for me to reach? How can I modify my current lifestyle so as to best conform to His vision?”
Instead – and very sadly – many people ask a different type of question, “What is the minimum I can do and still get away with and go unpunished?”
This type of talk and thinking is not harmless. In fact, it’s the hallmark of the generation of the Flood.
The Talmud (Eruvin 6b) says that one who always adopts for himself what’s understood to be the lenient position in each and every Halachic dispute is a wicked person.
One whose measuring sticks are the questions of “how far can I push things” and “how much can I get away with” can never be a true servant of G-d.