The first parsha after receiving the Torah addresses a Jew who steals, and is sold into temporary slavery. The Beis Halevi is bothered by this.
The Parsha opens with ואלה המשפטים – And these are the laws… Rashi points out how ו – “and” – is a point that continues something that came first, in this case that these laws are a continuation of the Torah just given at Sinai.
But why then, is this the very first instruction the Torah teaches us on becoming fully fledged Jews; why aren’t we first charged with being good, kind and responsible for society, such as the parsha after, which addresses distributing money to the poor?
The Beis Halevi explains that the Torah has a prerequisite for kindness and charity. The money has to be kosher. When people want to demonstrate their kindness, they have to ensure that the ingredients are properly sourced.
The Jew who steals becomes a slave. Although he must be treated exceptionally well, and is not the permanent property of his owner, he is not a fully fledged Jew. He is devoid of responsibility to Hashem, and is responsible to his master. He is allowed to marry a non-Jew in this state, and create a family of slaves for his master. This is what the Torah proscribes as the solution to theft. The Torah terms these things as less bad than one who steals.
The Torah impresses upon us the severity of theft, that it is a prerequisite to being capable of aiding society. The Torah demands high standards of people involved in society, as a prerequisite for all laws.