I heard that there are Mitzvos that forbid certain behaviors toward fellow Jews but allow or prescribe those very behaviors toward gentiles.

What are some examples of such Mitzvos?

  • 2
  • Very similarly, "you have to let a Jewish slave go free after 6 years, but can keep a non-Jewish slave long-term." In both contexts, it's not saying to go out of your way to charge a non-Jew interest, or keep a non-Jewish slave for more than 6 years. Simply that if you do these things to a Jew, you're in extra trouble because you could have done them elsewhere. The Torah also says you can give/sell a kosher animal that wasn't killed via slaughter to a non-Jew ... don't do that to a Jew.
    – Shalom
    Jun 20, 2022 at 10:03

5 Answers 5


Lending with interest for one: "You may not take interest from you brother, neither interest on (a) money (loan) nor interest on (a) food (loan); You may take interest from the foreigner..." Deutoronomy 23:20-21

  • The wording of the verse is very informative. It doesn't imply that lending with interest is immoral. Rather, it's unbrotherly: "You may not take interest from your BROTHER..." Just not something siblings do, and therefore runs against the attitude toward other Jews the Torah wants to foster. Jun 22, 2022 at 21:41

Another two examples are:

  1. Having benefit from a gentile mistake. Although the great majority of poskim forbid to mislead a gentile, if the gentile erred by himself, one is not required to correct his error. This comes with several conditions, for example, (1) there is no hilul Hashem (desecration of God's name) in the act (2) the jew did not make the gentile make the mistake (3) the jew explicity said to the gentile that he is relying in his calculations.

Sources: Aruch Hashulchan Choshen Mishpat 348:2 and Mishne Torah, Robbery and Lost Property 11:3-5

  1. A Lost property from a jew, there is a positive commandment to return it, whether a lost property from a non-jew there is no obligation to return it, although in a case of kidush Hashem one is encouraged to return it and in a case which the non-returning would cause hilul Hashem, one is obligated to return it.

Source: Mishne Torah, Robbery and Lost Property 11:1-3


A very simple rule of thumb for all of those rules.

Anything a gentile is not forbidden in the seven Noachite laws from doing to a Jew, a Jew is likewise not forbidden from doing to a gentile.

For example

A gentile may charge interest to a Jew. A Jew may charge interest to an non-Jew. The laws of interest are internal among Jews.

A gentile may not deceive a Jew. A Jew may not deceive. The prohibition of deception is universal.

A gentile has no Torah obligation to return the lost item of a Jew that he found. Similarly a Jew has no such Torah obligation towards a gentile.

The above is on a Biblical level. Due to the behavior of non-Jews in certain areas things may differ. For example while there will never be a biblical commandment to return the lost item of a non-Jew in a place where non-Jews are very careful to return lost items and the local law requires it would not be so simple for a Jew to keep the lost item of a non-Jew on a rabbinic level either.


Here's a funny one from the very end of the Gemara Meghillah:
אָמַר רַב הוּנָא בַּר מָנוֹחַ מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַב אַחָא בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַב אִיקָא: שְׁרֵי לֵיהּ לְבַר יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמֵימַר לֵיהּ לְגוֹי: שִׁקְלֵיהּ לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְאַנְּחֵיהּ בְּשִׁין תָּיו שֶׁלּוֹ. אָמַר רַב אָשֵׁי: הַאי מַאן דִּסְנֵי שׁוּמְעָנֵיהּ — שְׁרֵי לֵיהּ לְבַזּוֹיֵיהּ בְּגִימֶל וְשִׁין, הַאי מַאן דְּשַׁפִּיר שׁוּמְעָנֵיהּ — שְׁרֵי לְשַׁבּוֹחֵיהּ, וּמַאן דְּשַׁבְּחֵיהּ — יָנוּחוּ לוֹ בְּרָכוֹת עַל רֹאשׁוֹ.

Summarized, you can tell an idolater to shove his idol up his “wild donkey”, and call someone who hooks up too much a son-of-a-[sn]itch.

You can't insult a Jew like that.

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    You may want to consider that there's a reason why Hazal chose to spell the words and allude to them rather than go the more explicit route. Apr 2 at 16:24
  • I didn’t spell them out either. Apr 2 at 19:11

Considering Chullin 115b - Although the Nevelah prohibition [Devarim 14:21] would allow "perished" livestock to be sold to Ger & Foreigners, the Orlah prohibition [Vayiqra 19:23] would not allow farmers to sell the "withered" fruit from 3-yr-old trees to Foreigners, since [Chullin 115b:8] forbids any (nutritional or monetary) benefit.

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