I ask this without trying to take a position on any current events.

If someone is found, under halacha, to be guilty of a crime not punishable by death, and he pays whatever the price is (lashes, korbanot, restitution, damages) is the criminal then accepted back into society as if all is complete? If he uses skewed weights and measures, is he later dealt with in business with suspicion or is the idea behind his punishment that he is rehabilitated and gets a clean slate?

Is punishment under halacha punitive or restorative?

As an associated question, if he lives in a time without a Sanhedrin or a religious court so we must have faith that Hashem will mete out proper punishment that is no longer in the hands of man [in a sense I think, similar to a biblical era case which lacked the proper witnesses etc] , how do we deal with the criminal? Do we parse his life and try to see what might "count" as divine retribution? Do we hold the behavior against him, assuming that punishment will take place in Olam Haba and not before? Do we treat him as if, because nothing has been proven, nothing should influence our behavior?

I will try to find the right tags for this but welcome any and all suggestions. TIA.

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    When you say "accepted back into society," you are presupposing that the perpetrator was somehow cast out of society under the aegis of the system you're asking about. Are you sure that's true? For example, is there a formal way in which we sentence a weight-skewer to suspicion?
    – Isaac Moses
    Jul 12, 2013 at 19:14
  • @IsaacMoses I only mean "accepted back" in the sense of "as a complete blank slate/innocent." But the question could actually be applied to a case where someone is put into some form of cherem until a certain point; after that point, when the cherem is lifted because his behavior shifts, is he then fully back (in more than the halachic sense).
    – rosends
    Jul 12, 2013 at 20:41

1 Answer 1


I can give one example where we see that the punishment serves to restore one's status. Certain crimes that a person commits disqualify him from serving as a witness. However, if he receives punishment and, depending on the crime, takes steps to distance himself from what he has done, he returns to his status as a viable witness. The details of these halachot are found in choshen mishpat 34.

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