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Hakaras HaTov (Gratitude) is a very important trait in Torah. Can the principle of Hakaras HaTov create a situation where what is otherwise prohibited becomes permitted?

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I think one of the words "forbidden" and "prohibited" is not what you meant. – Monica Cellio Dec 21 '11 at 16:07
Short answer, yes, but I can't remember the exact midrash which gives a nice example. – avi Dec 22 '11 at 9:56

In most cases it is prohibited to use flattery or to lie to somebody.

However, there is a case in the gemorah (Sanhedrin 107b and Sotah 47a) where out of hakarot hatov for a fine meal and a good lodging, the rav says to the innkeeper that she is beautiful. His student objects that her eyes are not pretty, to which the rav pushes away his student.

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According to Rashi in Sotah, this is incorrect. The Rabbi was complimenting her actions, not her appearance. – Barry Dec 29 '11 at 17:36
@Barry did the innkeeper know he was doing this when he said it? – avi Dec 29 '11 at 19:33
@Barry, Yes, but wouldn't something like that still be g'neivas da'as in general? – jake Dec 29 '11 at 20:05
The text doesn't say the Rabbi was addressing the innkeeper - it's more likely he was complimenting her to his student in a private conversation. Furthermore, the Rabbi genuinely meant what he said. No lying or misleading going on here. – Barry Dec 29 '11 at 21:16

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