Is there either a Torah or Rabbinic prohibition against being a hypocrite? Is there any prohibition in and of itself in telling people to keep some Halacha that you don't keep? Or, is there anything wrong with, say, being very midakdeik to wear a davening jacket out of respect for God, but then talk all of davening?

I understand that giving bad tochacha or talking during davening are wrong. But is there anything additionally wrong with the actual hypocrisy itself (that makes these acts even worse)?

  • 2
    What is hypocritical about wearing a davening jacket and talking all of davening?
    – Double AA
    May 4, 2014 at 19:09
  • It is definitely questionable to take on chumras if you aren't keeping the basic halakha correctly. This is why, for instance, the Igros Moshe ruled against Rabbeinu Tam tefillin: because the normal tefillin are already relying on leniency, typically. However, one who doesn't keep a particular mitzvah can still be knowledgeable about it and that knowledge has an independent value.
    – Tatpurusha
    May 4, 2014 at 19:18
  • 1
    @DoubleAA The jacket's purpose is to show respect for tefillah while talking the whole time obviously shows the opposite.
    – WhoKnows
    May 4, 2014 at 19:19
  • 1
    @DoubleAA I don't see how you don't. The Gemara in the Fifth Perek of Berachos suggests wearing nice clothes out of respect for davening. And talking throughout all of davening obviously shows a lack of Kavod for tefillah...
    – WhoKnows
    May 4, 2014 at 19:21
  • 2
    There's nothing "hypocritical" about inconsistency. Hypocrisy is telling people to do one thing while doing another thing yourself. Doing something haphazardly or uncommitedly is only hypocritical if you berate others for those same shortcomings.
    – Shimon bM
    May 5, 2014 at 5:17

4 Answers 4


1. General hypocrisy (e.g. saying "Raw fish is awful" and then enjoying some sushi) is forbidden as Rambam writes (Deos 2:6)

אסור לאדם להנהיג עצמו בדברי חלקות ופיתוי. ולא תהיה אחת בפה ואחת בלב, אלא תוכו כברו; והעניין שבלב, הוא הדבר שבפה.

Idiomatic Translation (mine)

One should not express one thing verbally and another view in his heart. Rather his inside must be consistent with his external [presentation] and the internal feeling is what is verbally expressed.

Religious hypocrisy (e.g. saying "How can talk during davening!" and then talking during davening) includes the above issur and also includes the following:

2. It violates the dictum (Yevamos 65b) "Just as there is a mitzva to say something that will be listened to, so too, is there a mitzva not to say something that will be ignored."

A hypocrite when telling others what to do when personally ignoring what he is preaching will receive the response of "קשוט עצמך ואח"כ קשוט אחרים" ~ בבא בתרא ס', ע"ב" = Fix yourself first before fixing others!

3. Hypocrisy causes Chillul Hashem by disenchanting and alienating those who are exposed to it from Judaism

אביי אמר כדתניא (דברים ו, ה) ואהבת את ה' אלהיך שיהא שם שמים מתאהב על ידך שיהא קורא ושונה ומשמש ת"ח ויהא משאו ומתנו בנחת עם הבריות מה הבריות אומרות עליו אשרי אביו שלמדו תורה אשרי רבו שלמדו תורה אוי להם לבריות שלא למדו תורה פלוני שלמדו תורה ראו כמה נאים דרכיו כמה מתוקנים מעשיו עליו הכתוב אומר (ישעיהו מט, ג) ויאמר לי עבדי אתה ישראל אשר בך אתפאר אבל מי שקורא ושונה ומשמש ת"ח ואין משאו ומתנו באמונה ואין דבורו בנחת עם הבריות מה הבריות אומרות עליו אוי לו לפלוני שלמד תורה אוי לו לאביו שלמדו תורה אוי לו לרבו שלמדו תורה פלוני שלמד תורה ראו כמה מקולקלין מעשיו וכמה מכוערין דרכיו ועליו הכתוב אומר (יחזקאל לו, כ) באמור להם עם ה' אלה ומארצו יצאו

(Yoma 86a)

This portion of the Talmud is codified in Rambam (Yesodei HaTorah end of chapter 5) that behavior that reflects badly on Yiddishkeit is a Chillul Hashem and violates the positive and negative commandments regarding Chillul Hashem. He clearly states that the level of scrupulousness required by each individual is dependent on their level of scholarship (5:11).

It is well known that the Chafetz Chaim said that yeshiva boys are held to a higher standard than the general population and must act accordingly.

Hypocrisy is one of the most blatant forms of insincerity that often results in total disinterest and feelings of disgust by those who are exposed to it and causes people to have a negative attitude towards Torah, Mitzvos and Judaism which creates enormous Chillul Hashem.

Serious Consequences for Hypocritical Acts Committed Even With the Command of a Navi See Targum Yonasan (Hoshea 1:4) who explains that the reason Achav was killed was for serving Avodah Zarah. Yehu and his family also served Avodah Zarah. Because Yehu followed in Achav's ways, he had no right to carry out the prophecy about Achav, and he was found to be deserving of punishment for killing Achav as if he spilled innocent blood.

This is found in much greater detail in Shmiras Halashon ch 17, a small snippet follows enter image description here


While I cannot think of any overt prohibition, two Talmudic sources clearly convey that hypocrisy is frowned upon:

1) The Gemara in Pesachim 113b describes that God despises three types of people. One of these is Echad b'Peh, v'echad b'Lev. This is someone who externally expresses something while he internally feels something different.

2) The second principle is Tocho K'varo: The gemara in Yoma 72b states that a Talmid Chacham (scholar) whose inside does not reflect his outside is not a true Talmid Chacham.

  • בן עזאי אומר כאילו שופך דמים וממעט הדמות שנאמר ואתם פרו ורבו אמרו לו לבן עזאי יש נאה דורש ונאה מקיים נאה מקיים ואין נאה דורש ואתה נאה דורש ואין נאה מקיים אמר להן בן עזאי ומה אעשה שנפשי חשקה בתורה אפשר לעולם שיתקיים על ידי אחרים the meforshim explain how he was permitted,however some believe it is not lechatchila -Yevamos 63
    – sam
    May 4, 2014 at 21:13
  • #2 just says he is not a talmid chacham. how does that show it is forbidden?
    – ray
    May 4, 2014 at 21:20
  • @ray: It doesn't. Just that its frowned upon... (If you are willing to accept that one should be a Talmid Chacham)
    – Yehuda
    May 4, 2014 at 21:21
  • @Master_Yoda in fact Rambam (deos 2:6) writes this for everyone. See my answer below
    – Yoni
    May 7, 2014 at 0:03

Basically whatever you wouldn't want someone to conduct himself towards you, you should not conduct yourself towards G-d. This is not explicitly written in the torah because it can be easily derived from reason. See the Chovos Halevavos for many examples. Here's one from the Gate of Trust ch.3:

But, If one trusts in G-d and rebels against Him, how foolish is he, how weak is his intellect and his understanding! For he can see in this world that if an employer appoints a man to do something or refrain from doing something and the man disobeys the instruction, this will be the strongest factor in the employer's refusing to fulfill his side of the deal. All the more so, for one who disobeys the commandments of G-d, for which G-d Himself testified that one who trusts in Him and disobeys Him will have his hopes foiled and his trust will be considered hypocritical. Rather, he will be like that of who it is written "For what is the hope of the flatterer who deceives, when G-d casts off his soul? Will G-d hear his cry when trouble comes on him?" (Iyov 27:8-9), and "Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, offer up to idols, and follow other gods that you know not. And will you come and stand before Me in this house, upon which My Name is called, and say, 'We are saved,' in order to commit all these abominations? Has this house upon which My Name is called, become a den of thieves in your eyes? I, too, behold I have seen it, says the L-ord." (Yirmiyahu 7:9-11).

Nevertheless, one who prays hypocritically is closer to being "real" than the one who does not pray at all. For most people you have to start with ulterior motives and eventually work your way up to higher motives.


Look at the Koren Kinot pages 283-284. Rabbi Soloveitchik says that the source for the prohibition of hypocrisy is Numbers 33/35 ולא תחניפו את הארץ. He then says that the Rambam derives it from from Yeshaya 66/17 (הפטרה for shabbos rosh chodesh) people who publicly look pious and privately eat swine - אוכלי בשר החזיר השקץ והעכבורו.

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