The Sages (Avos 6:6) teach: ha'omer davar b'shem omro ("one who says something in the name of the person who originally said it"). We have learned that one who says something in the name of the one who originally said it brings geulah (redemption) to the world, as it is stated, "And Esther told the king in the name of Mordechai" (Esther 2:22).

It is not clear whether this applies also to something one heard from a non-Jew.

Anyone knows a source whether one must also do this for something heard from a non-Jew?

  • 2
    "whether one must"? Is there a source that says one must do this for something heard from a Jew? Did you perhaps mean to ask whether doing it for something heard from a non-Jew brings redemption?
    – msh210
    May 13, 2013 at 7:20
  • 1
    Mordechai heard it from a non-Jew and Esther certainly passed on that part of the story.
    – Double AA
    May 13, 2013 at 7:24
  • 3
    but the pirkei avos doesn't cite mordechais' telling as bringing redemption, only esther's.
    – rosends
    May 13, 2013 at 10:58

2 Answers 2


The question of whether or not the Gemara's statement about citing sources applies equally to non-Jews, ought to depend on the point of statement. If it is about giving credit where credit is due, then maybe that is a privileged reserved for Jews. If, however, the point is specifically avoiding earning credit for a statement that is rightfully someone else's, then presumably it doesn't matter who that somebody else is; either way one is unfairly claiming credit for that which is not his.

So which is it?

From the wording or R. Bahye, one could perhaps infer that the point is the latter; that one should not steal credit. He writes the following in the introduction to his Torah commentary:

אזכור דבר בשם אומרו ולא אתעטף בטלית שאינה שלי

I will attribute quotes to their sources, and not garb myself in a cloak that is not mine.

Similarly, the Sefer Hassidim (979) frames the issue in terms of earning false praise:

איש מתהלל במתת שקר זה דומה לשולח צדקה ביד נאמן והוא אומר אדוני שולח את זה אבל ביד איש שקר אומר אני נתתי משלי וכן מי שאינו אומר דבר בשם אומרו. ‏

That being the case, there would not be a distinction between who you heard it from.

Similarly, the Giddulei Terumah writes in the introduction:

כי מנעורי מאסתי פחיתות המדה הגרועה להתלבש בטלית שאינו שלי ולהתפאר בעמל אחרים, וחס ליה לזרעיה דאבא עליו השלום יהי לברכה זכרו להתעלם מלומר דבר בשם אומרו. ‏

That is, he frames the issue if accurate citations as the issue of taking undeserved credit.

An intersting explanation for the importance of citations is given by the Pirkei Moshe in Avot. He explains that the point of citations is particularly when the source cited is viewed as being an inferior source. When others hear the source cited, and realize that even an apparently inferior source merits mention, they will be inspired to pursue their own studies, so that they too will be quoted, in spite of their relative inferiority.

האומר דבר בשם אומרו, והכונה בזה...לא יתבייש מלומר השמועה בשם מי שאמרה, יהיה מי שיהיה, כי מזה ימשך תועלת גדול לכל השומעים, כאשר יראו התלמידים וכל בני אדם שזה השלם עם כל שלמותו אומר שמועה מפי אחר קטון ממנו, ישתדלו כלם ללמוד וללמד, כדי שיזכו גם הם שיאמרו אחרים שלמים דבר בשמם

Accordingly, the more inferior the source is perceived to be, the more of a reason to quote it. Given the stigma around non-Jews, there would be an even greater imperative to quote them!

Surprisingly, however, the Sefer Hassidim (977) writes that one should not quote something in the name of a heretic:

אדם ששומע טעם טוב או קושיא טובה או תירוץ טוב ממין או ממומר או מאדם שמחטיא את הרבים אל יאמר דבר משמו

Accordingly, perhaps one should not cite something in the name of a non-Jew either.

R. Aviner writes explicitly here that it does not apply to non-Jews.

  • A non-Jew isn’t necessarily a heretic, so I’m not sure that the Sefer Chassidim can be taken as a blanket rule not to quote a non-Jew.
    – DonielF
    Mar 12, 2019 at 19:44

Doesn't the answer to the question depend on the content of what's being quoted? The Midrash says: If someone tells you there is wisdom among the nations, believe it... But if he tells you there is Torah among the nations, do not believe it. [Lamentations Rabbah 2:13]

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