This is a subset of the question of "is it permissible to pray for anyone's death?" and "is it permissible to pray for an evil-doer's death?" and goes to the question of whether one may pray for the death (say by illness) of a very powerful evil doer, a national leader who is causing an illness to spread throughout a nation? It certainly seems like it ought to be permitted. This is not about taking the action, but asking the Holy One to work out the wheels of justice so that he who is doing evil (failing to act, ignoring reasonable disease prevention strategies, attempting to profit from human suffering), is taken down by the evil he does. But if it is permitted, who says so?

I don't know where or to whom it might apply, but just in the abstract if such a situation should arise....?

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    – msh210
    Mar 25, 2020 at 14:01

3 Answers 3


A classic one from Berakhot 10a:

הנהו בריוני דהוו בשבבותיה דר"מ, והוו קא מצערו ליה טובא. הוה קא בעי ר' מאיר רחמי עלויהו, כי היכי דלימותו. אמרה לי' ברוריא דביתהו, מאי דעתך? משום דכתיב יתמו חטאים? מי כתיב חוטאים? חטאים כתיב! ועוד, שפיל לסיפיה דקרא, ורשעים עוד אינם. כיון דיתמו חטאים, ורשעים עוד אינם. אלא, בעי רחמי עלויהו, דלהדרו בתשובה, ורשעים עוד אינם. בעא רחמי עלויהו, והדרו בתשובה:‏

There were once some highwaymen in the neighbourhood of R. Meir who caused him a great deal of trouble. R. Meir accordingly prayed that they should die. His wife Beruria said to him: How do you make out [that such a prayer should be permitted]? Because it is written (Psalms 104:35) Let hatta'im cease? Is it written hot'im? It is written hatta'im! Further, look at the end of the verse: and let the wicked men be no more. Since the sins will cease, there will be no more wicked men! Rather pray for them that they should repent, and there will be no more wicked. He did pray for them, and they repented.

Soncino translation

You should rather pray that evildoers would repent and change their ways.

  • 1
    For a weird reason Berakhot 10a is missing from Sefaria. Mar 25, 2020 at 9:37
  • 11a is printed instead! Mar 25, 2020 at 17:21
  • @AvrohomYitzchok Is it possible that it's been fixed by now? An agent of Sefaria is among us? :-) Mar 25, 2020 at 17:31
  • 1
    ולמלשינים (או למשומדים) אל תהי תקוה...וכל אויבי עמך מהרה יכרתו
    – wfb
    Mar 25, 2020 at 19:00
  • Note that the Tzelach there shows that based on the surrounding Gemara, Beruria was not entirely correct.
    – Alex
    Mar 25, 2020 at 21:25

The answer draws extensively on Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin, FOCUS ON TEFILLAH ARCHIVE .

In the blessing in the Amidah of “Velamalshinim” the original purpose was to remove from our midst any and all heretical teachings and thoughts. The author starts with the approach that:

We do not daven necessarily that the evildoers be eradicated.

The Sefer Sifsei Chaim points out that we do not ask for the wicked to perish--but for the wickedness to vanish.

But, when it comes to the enemies …

We conclude the Bracha with the words “Baruch Atta Hashem Shover Oyvim U’Machniyah Zaydim--who breaks enemies and humbles the intentional sinners.” HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, writes that by the breaking of our enemies we mean Ad LeKilyon--to their total destruction. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, points out that enemies must be broken because they want to harm us directly, while Zaydim are broad-based Reshaim and therefore humbling them may be sufficient.

Therefore it seems that not only may we pray for the death of a very powerful evil doer, but that we do it three times every weekday.

  • 1
    Unfortunately this is based on modern versions of this blessing post-censor. The phrase וכל הרשעה כרגע תאבד is an innovation of the censors.
    – Double AA
    Mar 25, 2020 at 17:26
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    Yes. But we are saying it and our Gedolim are explaining it! But I acknowledge your point and if necessary would promote it myself. Mar 25, 2020 at 17:32

one must recognize the hand holding the stick that's doing the beating.

All is from above, and even the evil doers, just like Gd hardened the heart of pharaoh, He also hardens the heart of the wicked, while calling out daily to all to repent and find Him.

What good would it do to pray for evil doers death? Until evil is eradicated with mashiach, ten more will arise in the dead ones place.

See the plague of frogs in Egypt, and today's present enemies of Israel. Kill one, and 20 new ones pop up.

Better to pray for mashiach than for death of an evil doer, it makes us better individuals

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