Is one punished for sinful thoughts brought upon by one's yetzer hara? Please give sources, thanks in advance.


2 Answers 2


Although it is forbidden to willingly focus one’s mind on sinful thoughts, nevertheless we find in the Talmud the concept of thoughts that come to a person against his will (Bava Basra 164b regarding sinful thoughts; Kiddushin 33a regarding holy thoughts in an impure place), and Tosafos (Chulin 37b) explains that this is why one of the things for which Yechazkel was singled out was that he never had a sinful thought, as the Gemara there says that if those things would be considered a sin, then he would not have been singled out for those things.


The gemara in kiddushin (40a) states:

מחשבה רעה אין הקדוש ברוך הוא מצרפה למעשה שנאמר (תהלים סו, יח) און אם ראיתי בלבי לא ישמע ה' ואלא מה אני מקים (ירמיהו ו, יט) הנני מביא אל העם הזה רעה פרי מחשבותם מחשבה שעושה פרי הקב"ה מצרפה למעשה מחשבה שאין בה פרי אין הקב"ה מצרפה למעשה ואלא הא דכתיב (יחזקאל יד, ה) למען תפוש את [בית] ישראל בלבם אמר רב אחא בר יעקב ההוא בעבודת כוכבים הוא דכתיב דאמר מר חמורה עבודת כוכבים שכל הכופר בה כמודה בכל התורה כולה

HaShem does not connect bad thoughts to deeds (i.e. does not consider it as if one has done the deed)... A thought that comes to fruition is connected to the deed, whereas a thought that does not come to fruition is not connected to the deed... Idol worship is strict (that even a thought is connected to the deed), for one who denies it is considered to admit to the entire Torah

Therefore, one is not punished for any sinful thoughts, unless they lead to action (in which case, he is punished for the thought along with the action). The only exception is Avoda Zara, which one is punished for even if it's only done in thought.

  • 2
    This is about intent to commit a sin, not thoughts that are inherently sinful.
    – shmosel
    Nov 29, 2023 at 2:08
  • @shmosel aren't thoughts that are inherently sinful only inherently sinful because they are thoughts about committing a sin?
    – Lo ani
    Nov 29, 2023 at 7:59
  • No. It's forbidden to indulge lewd thoughts, for example, regardless your intent to act on them or even their permissibility.
    – shmosel
    Nov 29, 2023 at 8:17
  • @shmosel, do you mean to say there are permissible deeds, which are forbidden to think about? Nov 29, 2023 at 12:37

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