I know from the gemarah Bava Basra 7b-8a that learning (being a talmid chacham) or doing many mitzvos can protect oneself from enemies (such that when a city is taxed for a wall that was built to protect the residents, talmidei chachamim are exempt from paying since they do not require protection). I do not recall where, but I remember seeing quotes of the Zohar to a similar effect.

My question is, can someone learning Torah or doing Mitzvos protect others from the harm of enemies?

If the answer is yes, is the protection location based?

  • 1
    R' Elchanan Wasserman wrote a letter to the Tz'irei Yisrael youth group in the Spring of 1939 indicating that Torah study provides protection from physical harm and therefore involves lo sa'amod al dam rei'echa (see the introduction to Koveitz Shi'urim): במכתב... הוא מבאר כי סיבת הסיבות של כל הצרות הבאות עלינו היא שכחת התורה ושלכן חיזוק לימוד התורה הוא הצלה גם במובן גשמי ושהעמידה מרחוק בענין הזה יש בו משום לא תעמוד על דם רעך כפשוטו.
    – Fred
    Jul 22, 2014 at 20:40
  • See Sotah (21a) where it talks about this issue. Jul 22, 2014 at 23:48
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    @Fred Maybe we should move the Mir to Sderot. :/
    – Double AA
    Jul 23, 2014 at 15:03
  • Does anyone think the Gemara in Makkos 10a is pertinent to this discussion? Jul 26, 2014 at 19:05
  • @DoubleAA If one of these sources do demonstrate that learning Torah or doing mitzvos protect others from physical harm and that this works geographically, it would be an interesting question if we should transfer people to an area of active danger and harm. (I.e. that would be an entirely different conversation).
    – Gavriel
    Jul 26, 2014 at 19:42

3 Answers 3


Bal Haturim - Devarim 1:3 says that a Torah scholar protects 40,000 people in his location from their enemies.


The Talmud (Ta'anis 21b) indicates that the merits of Rav and Rav Huna were more than sufficient to protect their respective neigborhoods from danger, except that their neighborhoods were in fact protected by the kind deeds of other righteous locals - a man who loaned hoes and shovels for burials and a woman who allowed needy individuals to use her heated oven:

בסורא הוות דברתא בשיבבותיה דרב לא הוות דברתא סברו מיניה משום זכותיה דרב דנפיש איתחזי להו בחילמא רב דנפישא זכותיה טובא הא מילתא זוטרא ליה לרב אלא משום ההוא גברא דשייל מרא וזבילא לקבורה בדרוקרת הוות דליקתא ובשיבבותיה דרב הונא לא הוות דליקתא סבור מינה בזכותא דרב הונא דנפיש איתחזי להו בחילמא האי זוטרא ליה לרב הונא אלא משום ההיא איתתא דמחממת תנורא ומשיילי לשיבבותיה


I would venture to say that the protection is not a direct result of doing Mitzvot.

We have an explicit Mishna we say every morning that [only] specific Mitzvot have some reward in this world - besides for the reward all Mitzvot have in the world to come.

See the Gemara in Kidushin 39b and Chullin 122a for a discussion about שכר מצוה בהאי עלמא; rewards for Mitzvot in this world.

However, the Gemara in Kidushin (40b) says::

ר' אלעזר בר' שמעון אומר לפי שהעולם נידון אחר רובו והיחיד נידון אחר רובו עשה מצוה אחת אשריו שהכריע את עצמו ואת כל העולם לכף זכות

Doing a Mitzva makes you better (as in: more of a Tzadik) and as a result the world is a better place.

Thus, every Mitzva done has the potential of averting disaster - as we already learned that the world is continuously being judged.

So, to answer your question: Doing Mitzvot can help protect you, those close to you and to a lesser degree "everybody". It's not location based; it's based on Hashem's view of you and the world at any given moment.

(Since you are the one being judged, the more the tragedy affects you, the greater chance your merit will avert it.)

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