There are two commonly known halachic concepts. "Marit Ayin", a bad impression, and "Dan Lekaf Zechut", "Judging favorably". Here is a nice article on the concept of Marit Ayin and it briefly talks about the contradiction between the two concepts.

In the article, it discussing the argument about whether you are allowed to create new situations of "marit Ayin" that were not previously recorded or used in the Talmud. As the use case of Non Dairy Ice cream makes clear, most people don't make new use cases.

However, for those who argue that you can make new use cases for this concept, aren't we violating one commandment to enact another?

To phrase the question more directly, if I assume that somebody will think that I am breaking a halacha by doing a certain action, aren't I also assuming that said person will be breaking a commandment to not judge me favorably? Aren't I commanded to judge the outside viewer favorably, and to believe that he will also follow the commandment and judge me favorably? (This is a different question than the one raised in the article, which is just discussing conflicting halachic principles.)

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    But Maris Ayin is more than just "people will think that you're acting wrongly." It is also that "people will think that it is okay to do the same in a (subtly different) case."
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 26, 2012 at 14:50
  • @Alex read the article I linked to. The cases in the Gemora are mostly NOT that sort of situation.
    – avi
    Commented Feb 26, 2012 at 14:53
  • I have come across an answer, but it has not yet been 24 hours. Should I wait longer before answering my own question?
    – avi
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 6:53
  • @avi - Although the article that you linked article does discuss the contradiction between the two concepts, it seems to assume that marit ayin is the superior concept. In fact, I don't believe that anybody is taking the actual question seriously, and it seems like everybody is just giving terutzim as to why marit ayin trumps dan l'kaf zcut. Why is that? It's obvious that our question is not asking for reasons why marit ayin is superior, but rather for which one should trump the other. Commented May 3, 2012 at 0:23
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    @AdamMosheh The article was not the answer to the question, the article inspired the question. As you can see in the accepted answer, "livnei eiver" is the reason why Marit Ayin trumps Dan 'kaf zcut.
    – avi
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 7:58

2 Answers 2


There is a third Halachic concept which answers the question. This is sort of like when we have 2 psukim which seem to contradict each other, until a third pasuk comes to resolve it.

The third halachic concept, and in this case a mitzvah, is "Lifni Iver", or not to put a stumbling block in front of the blind.

True, we should give our fellows the benefit of the doubt, that they too will act with the benefit of the doubt, but at the same time, we do not want to "tempt our brother to sin." By being careful with Marit Ayin, we are also being careful to remove any and all stumbling blocks from those who are blind to our motives, or situation.

  • It shouldn't be considered lifnei iver! Divrei harav vedivrei hatalmid - divrei mi shomin? Commented May 2, 2012 at 22:58
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    avi - Is this your chiddush? (lifnei iver) Commented May 3, 2012 at 18:18
  • @AdamMosheh No, I saw it hinted at in two different places but in nothing authoritative that I could quote.
    – avi
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 7:24
  1. Not all the time when you see someone doing something wrong you must assume they are doing it Behetter, or there would never be a commandment of "Hocheiach Tocheiach". (For example, one should rebuke a religious Jew who is seen eating pig meat, even though it is possible that he is about to die if he doesn't).
  2. Even if the other should judge you favourably, you should still behave as if he won't. For example, while one should definitely not assume that a Dayan who judged one guilty is out to get him, nonetheless, the Judge should still tell him why he ruled against him.
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    I think your answer captures the essence of the question: there are two people here, one doing something that may appear to be a sin and the other observing. The former must be conscious of maris ayin and the latter must dan lchaf zchus. As you say, though, they must also rebuke... At any rate, @avi the halachos cannot contradict because they apply to two different people and are therefore not mutually exclusive actions.
    – yoel
    Commented Feb 26, 2012 at 22:59
  • @yoel Sorry you aren't understanding the question. I as the person doing the action, should have dan lhaf zhus, that anybody watching me will give be dan lchaf zhus. The question is purely about the person doing the action, not the observer.
    – avi
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 6:34
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    When you rebuke someone, you are supposed to do so in a way that still gives them dan lchaf zchus. "I know, you might be doing this to save your life, but if you aren't, you should know, that you are liable to lashes."
    – avi
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 6:36
  • @avi good point!
    – yoel
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 6:46
  • As for point 2, you are just giving an example of where the question applies. Why does the judge behave as if the litigants will be breaking halacha?
    – avi
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 6:52

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