6

Many people in the world celebrate and play pranks on each other on April 1.

Is it halachically permissible to play pranks on people or in any kind celebrate April fools day?

  • This Chabad.org article asks and answers the question mostly positively – mbloch Apr 1 at 6:48
  • 1
    Is it permitted to do so on any day of the year? – Double AA Apr 1 at 11:54
  • 2
    Is the main thrust of your question about a possible issue of emulating gentiles, or about halachic concerns with specific pranks? – Alex Apr 1 at 14:59
  • 1
    April Fools Day is an interesting example of Chuqas haGoyim. it originated as a Xian taunt of pagans who had a calendar that started on the Spring Equinox, or the nearby April 1st. So, it's AaNTI avodah zara, but also a custom of the comparatively less pagan. (In particular, if one follows Rabbeinu Tam's lenient ruling on Noachides with trinitarian beliefs.) – Micha Berger Apr 2 at 22:36
6

I think it'll be a bit dfficult to give overall rules about whether 'pranks' are allowed, since what one might consider a 'prank' is quite varied, with some items being forbidden and some being permitted.

With that said, there are still certain things that are forbidden. Once we list all the 'pranks' that are forbidden, we can figure out what is permitted by process of elimination. :)

One category of forbidden 'pranks' is anything that involves stealing an item, even if there is no monetary damage. This is brought down in Kitzur Shulchn Aruch 182:3:

אֲפִלּוּ לִגְנוֹב עַל דַּעַת לְהַחֲזִיר, אֶלָּא שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְצַעֲרוֹ קְצָת אוֹ בְּדֶרֶךְ שְׂחוֹק, גַּם כֵּן אָסוּר.

Even stealing with the intention of returning it, but just for the sake of annoying someone, or to tease someone, is also forbidden.

Note that the above is when there is no damage to the item. If there is actual damage involved, it would clearly be more severe.

There may also be issues of humiliating a person (see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Chapter 63, which while mostly dealing with business-related deceiving, has several non-business applications) and lying (see for example Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 181:7) but those were mentioned in @AlBerko's answer, so I won't focus on them here.

4
  1. Fooling others [Jews] by saddening them even minutely is prohibited Deorayso even if they forgive afterward:

    Mishna Bava Metziyah 58b:

    כשם שאונאה במקח וממכר כך אונאה בדברים:
    לא יאמר לו בכמה חפץ זה והוא אינו רוצה ליקח,
    אם היה בעל תשובה לא יאמר לו זכור מעשיך הראשונים,
    אם הוא בן גרים לא יאמר לו זכור מעשה אבותיך
    שנאמר (שמות כב, כ) וגר לא תונה ולא תלחצנו

    Just as there is a prohibition against exploitation [ona’a] in buying and selling, so is there ona’a in statements, i.e., verbal mistreatment. The Mishna proceeds to cite examples of verbal mistreatment. ...

    See also Shu"A Cho"M 228:

    "אסור להונות בדברים ולגנוב דעת הבריות ולרמות במקח וממכר"

  2. I would definitely add the prohibition of lying (מדבר שקר תרחק), which is less stringent but still important.

  • Would it also have the prohibition of not to act like gentiles? – Rh Haokip Apr 1 at 14:39
  • 1
    Also, How about on purim? – Rh Haokip Apr 1 at 14:42
  • 1
    Some people (not me) like April Fools and enjoy being on the receiving end of jokes. For those people it's more similar to seif 7 ואם הוא עושה כדי לכבדו מותר. And על אחת כמה וכמה if it's a joke in a good way like a surprise birthday party. But you have to know your audience. – Heshy Apr 1 at 15:14
  • As this is not a pagan tradition I didn't include "acting like gentiles", so celebrating the 4th of July or Yom Hatzmaut would be permitted. – Al Berko Apr 1 at 17:55
  • @Heshy We should differentiate חפצא and גברא - this prohibition has two parts: 1. it's forbidden to CAUSE pain to a person (חפצא) 2. It's forbidden to THINK about harming others (גברא). So unless both the surpriser and the surprised are content, there is a transgression, in my humble opinion. See Rambam's אסור לגזול על מנת להחזיר - because it makes you (גברא) bad Midos. – Al Berko Apr 1 at 17:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .