The Talmud (Bavli, M'gila 6 amud 2) states:

ואמר ר׳ יצחק אם יאמר לך אדם יגעתי ולא מצאתי אל תאמן לא יגעתי ומצאתי אל תאמן יגעתי ומצאתי תאמן

And Rabbi Yitzchak said: If someone tells you 'I toiled and did not find', don't believe [it]; 'I did not toil and I found', don't believe [it]; 'I toiled and found', believe [it].

Well, someone told me today that he hadn't toiled and hadn't found. Should I believe it?

I suspect we can answer as follows: If I should disbelieve that someone has toiled and not found, then obviously it's really hard to not find, so I should certainly disbelieve that he's neither toiled nor found. But I'm not convinced my logic is sound, and I seek other arguments or other evidence.

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Yes, your logic is correct. Not finding is incredibly difficult, and one certainly would fail at not finding without exerting tremendous effort. There is abundant Scriptural support to this concept.

Consider Devarim 22:17:

הִנֵּה-הוּא שָׂם עֲלִילֹת דְּבָרִים לֵאמֹר, לֹא-מָצָאתִי

He is making things up, saying he didn't find

Obviously, claiming one did not find is looked at as a preposterous claim.

And, Koheles 7:28:

וְלֹא מָצָאתִי: אָדָם אֶחָד מֵאֶלֶף

"I didn't find" is one in a thousand.

Thus, we see how rare it is to not find.

Now, don't be fooled by the number of people you hear claiming that they didn't find. They're just doing that for the health benefits, for as the Rambam writes (Hilchos De'os 2:4):

ואמרו לא מצאתי לגוף טוב

Saying "I didn't find" is good for the body.


No. You shouldn't believe him.

All these rules follow Boolean logic.

Whenever you have a conjunction (AND), both parts must be true for the whole statement to be true. We'll assign variables:

"I toiled" = A

"I found" = B

The 1st statement is A & ~B - Since B is false, the whole thing is false

The 2nd statement is ~A & B - Since A is false, the whole thing is false

What you state is - ~A & ~B - Since both A & B are false, the whole thing is false

  • I think you’re belying your comment here – DonielF Mar 11 at 1:20
  • @DonielF I'm humble enough to tell everyone that I'm my own biggest hypocrite. – DanF Mar 11 at 2:09

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