It is my understanding that "turning the other cheek" is a uniquely Christian concept that is alien to Judaism. It appears that we are encouraged to take (legal) action against those who do us harm and not to simply let it go. See Chabad article here: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1791975/jewish/Is-Turning-the-Other-Cheek-a-Jewish-Value.htm

This article states that it is not the Jewish way to turn away from a violent aggressor. The concept of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" is also prominent in Jewish scripture (albeit not interpreted literally but in the context of legal damages.)

However, I'm not clear if this applies all across the board or to just specific scenarios (e.g. scenarios that involve violence.) More specifically, I'd like to know what halakha prescribes for harassment from noisy neighbors.

Let's say that you have some awful neighbors who harass you night and day for 2 years straight by making extreme amounts of noise. Mind you, I'm not talking about people who are simply loud in their day-to-day activities, but someone who is actually maliciously and intentionally creating noise with the explicit intent of harassing you and depriving you of sleep and peace.

If one were to consult with most lawyers or police officers (as I have), they would probably tell you that your best bet is to simply move away and not bother with legal proceedings. However, I am confused as to where halakha stands on this.

Is it OK to just move away without taking legal action against the bad neighbor? Would this be considered "turning the other cheek" and therefore against Jewish law?

If there are any Orthodox Rabbanim here in particular, I'd like to know what you suggest would be the best course of action.

According to Halakha, should you take such neighbors to court or is it ok to just cut your losses and move away without taking any sort of action against them for the damage they've done to you?

Note: I am interested only in the Orthodox interpretation

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    I’m not convinced “turning the other cheek” is necessarily anti-Jewish.
    – DonielF
    Oct 13, 2019 at 20:04
  • @DonielF I'm not suggesting that it is "anti-Jewish", just that it is an alien concept in Judaism. Please see the Chabad article here for details: chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1791975/jewish/…
    – ag415
    Oct 13, 2019 at 20:09
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    You ask, “Would this be considered ‘turning the other cheek’ and therefore against Jewish law?” Where do you see that your “therefore” holds - why should turning the other cheek necessarily mean that it’s against Jewish law? (If there’s anything relevant in that link to your question, I highly recommend editing it into your question rather than leaving it in comments, which are subject to deletion at any time.)
    – DonielF
    Oct 13, 2019 at 20:11
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    Fair enough. You might also consider summarizing the specific parts of the Chabad article in the post itself.
    – DonielF
    Oct 13, 2019 at 20:15
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    I think you're trying to present it as a black-and-white case, fight or retreat. Usually, things are far more complex, and so is our Halachah. First, the Halachah never says you have to sue in any case, you can always forgive the damage, it says if your claim is so and so the result must be so and so. Second, in all common practices, the Halachah relies on local laws anyway, so not much of a consolation.
    – Al Berko
    Oct 14, 2019 at 19:18

1 Answer 1


See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turning_the_other_cheek#Nonviolent_resistance_interpretation

The scholar Walter Wink, in his book Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, interprets the passage as ways to subvert the power structures of the time.

At the time of Jesus, says Wink, striking backhand a person deemed to be of lower socioeconomic class was a means of asserting authority and dominance. If the persecuted person "turned the other cheek," the discipliner was faced with a dilemma: The left hand was used for unclean purposes, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed. An alternative would be a slap with the open hand as a challenge or to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality. Thus, by turning the other cheek, the persecuted was demanding equality

(Sorry this does not fit the format of most answer on this site, but is is a bit long for a comment)

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    Thank you for the contribution, but this appears to be a Christian interpretation from a Christian scholar. I am interested specifically in the Orthodox Jewish interpretation.
    – ag415
    Oct 15, 2019 at 22:09
  • @ag415 and Ian: To turn your left to your right (turning your other cheek) isn't a doormat. In the past, masters would hit peasants away on their right check; Jesus taught the peasants to stand up to their masters. Of course, this act of non-violence in Christianity is not correct and Jesus should have followed Rabbinic teachings of legal action but. yet again, he probably never existed.
    – Jonathan
    Oct 15, 2019 at 23:41
  • @Jonathan I actually think he did exist. Many historians agree that he was a real man, although obviously as a subscriber of the Orthodox Jewish school of thought, I do not believe he was the massiach and was simply a man, nothing more. I am just looking for the Orthodox Jewish take on this, rather than the take of Christian scholars.
    – ag415
    Oct 16, 2019 at 0:14
  • @ag415 I agree with what you wrote about him not being the messiah. However, outside the New Testament, there is no proof that he ever existed. I think the Jesus of the NT is a composite of many individuals. It goes without saying that 90% of what Jesus taught at the Sermon of the Mount can be traced to the Torah.
    – Jonathan
    Oct 16, 2019 at 0:21
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    But I wanted to let you know that the Christian "take" isn't to allow someone to slap you across the face without reparations. It was a front against the attacker because they would "miss" their mark. However, as far as I know, there is no legal consideration. The Talmud most certainly has something on the topic. Did you try reading the Talmud?
    – Jonathan
    Oct 16, 2019 at 0:27

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