A man fulfills the negative mitzvah of not having relations with his sister perfectly - he never even thinks about doing it. This is because he has no sister. Does he get credit for this?

I would think not, since there is no effort involved in refraining from performing the action. But there is no effort in having a bris milah when one is a baby and one gets credit. So I am not sure.


3 Answers 3


This is equivalent to asking about doing the mitzvot we can't do today, such as because we have no Temple or Sanhedrin.

The answer from Menachot 110a (see Shulchan Aruch Harav, Orach Chaim 1:9) is that we get credit for doing them by studying them.

Also, by the fact that we are all connected on the highest levels, and are all responsible for one another, we fulfil them through proxy for eachother.

Some say we fulfil them all over up to four reincarnations.

We may not get a rock solid answer to this. We have to hope and trust that Hashem puts as much effort into finding ways to credit us, as He promises to find ways to overlook our sins and forgive us.

Thanks for the really good question and may we all be successful in fulfilling the mitzvot as best we can.


You get credit for all mitzvot fulfilled, regardless of how much work it takes. However, as Ben He He said in the Mishnah, the reward will be greater if the effort expended is greater. [Avot 5:21]

  • Here the effort is literally zero. Is the reward zero or just very small?
    – Double AA
    Mar 1, 2023 at 22:16
  • My guess is very small. The Sources say no accounting exists for the value of mitzvot. Mar 1, 2023 at 22:48
  • 1
    Isn't that the essential answer to the OPs question?
    – Double AA
    Mar 1, 2023 at 23:39
  • All commentators say you get credit for mitzvot observed. Nowhere do they add "unless the effort is zero." Mar 2, 2023 at 2:33
  • 2
    They also all say it's proportional to effort and anything times zero is zero. We're not going to get very far here just speculating. At least we can acknowledge this post alone doesn't answer the question.
    – Double AA
    Mar 2, 2023 at 2:39

In Vayikra 18:5, it says:

You shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the L-rd.

The Gemara in Makkos 23b elaborates on this, and explains that:

[...] with regard to one who sits and did not perform a transgression, G-d gives him a reward like that received by one who performs a mitzva.

  • 1
    Blood is still something you can eat even if you don't want to. Do all non-kohanim get merit for never going-into-cemeteries-whilst-a-kohein?
    – Double AA
    Mar 1, 2023 at 19:27
  • Fair enough.... But, according to the Gemara, G-d rewards those who did not perform a transgression.
    – Shmuel
    Mar 1, 2023 at 19:29
  • 3
    All the commentaries to the Mishna explain that it's referring to one who had the opportunity to transgress and nevertheless refrained.
    – shmosel
    Mar 1, 2023 at 20:15

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