Someone told me that you shouldn’t ask a question to someone who won't know the answer to what you're asking. What’s the source of this?

  • 1
    It's not to someone who might not know the answer; it's to someone who clearly DOES not know the answer. It's an example of trying to push someone down. If five doctors and a baker are at a dinner table, and someone asks the baker so, what's YOUR approach to [medical jargon]? -- the intended, and only possible outcome, is for them to feel less-than.
    – Shalom
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 17:57
  • There was the fellow who'd been a White House butler for many decades, and was now invited as a guest to a White House dinner. His wife worried what she could possibly discuss with the other honorees, and finally came up with: so, tell me about your experience with high school...
    – Shalom
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 17:58

2 Answers 2


אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַבִּי חִיָּיא לְרַב: בַּר פַּחֲתֵי! לָא אָמֵינָא לָךְ, כִּי קָאֵי רַבִּי בְּהָא מַסֶּכְתָּא לָא תְּשַׁיְּילֵיהּ בְּמַסֶּכְתָּא אַחֲרִיתִי, דִּילְמָא לָאו אַדַּעְתֵּיהּ. דְּאִי לָאו דְּרַבִּי גַּבְרָא רַבָּה הוּא — כַּסֵּפְתֵּיהּ, דִּמְשַׁנֵּי לָךְ שִׁינּוּיָא דְּלָאו שִׁינּוּיָא הוּא.

Rabbi Ḥiyya said to Rav, his sister’s son: Son of great men, didn’t I tell you that when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi is involved in this tractate do not ask him questions in another tractate, as perhaps it will not be on his mind and he will be unable to answer? The dilemma that Rav asked was not related to the subject matter of the tractate which they were studying. As, had it not been for the fact that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi is a great man, you would have shamed him, as he would have been forced to give you an answer that is not an appropriate answer.



See the Shulchan Arach Choshen Mishpat 228 which discusses onas devorim

228:4 says

אם נשאלה שאלה על דבר חכמה לא יאמר למי שאינו יודע אותה חכמה מה תשיב בדבר זה וכן כל כיוצא בדברים אלו

If a question was asked on a topic that requires wisdom you may not say someone who is unfamiliar with that subject "what would would you answer" on this matter.

This is also written in the Rambam

The Be'er Hagola says that although there is no clear source for this in the Gemora it is self understood based on the other examples of onas devorim given there

  • There might also be an issue of: ואהבת לרעך כמוך Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 19:11

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