Ive read that when it comes to din / punishments, one may only be punished for physical actions (including speech / lashon hara) but never because of thoughts and emotions.

However, what about the concept of ayin hara? in the zohar its descibed how sara / hagar was a subject to ayin hara, in so that an "evil" thought can create an happening. is there really no punishment for this?

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for bringing your question here! I suggest that you edit your profile and give yourself a name. Could you please edit into this post as much as you can about where you've seen the concept in your first paragraph?
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 18, 2015 at 19:53
  • You also have the cases in the Gemara where Rabbis would look at people and turn them to bones (end of Berachos, 2nd chapter of Shabbos regarding a few people) Feb 18, 2015 at 22:18

1 Answer 1


I believe this is addressed in Rabbi J David Bleich's article in Tradition, "Liability for Harm Caused by Metaphysical Forces"

The Talmud in Bava Kama has plenty of cases where our courts can't punish someone, but Heaven will demand punishment (e.g. various cases of psychological damage); there's also talk about if you render your friend's wine or cow non-kosher: it still looks like perfectly-fine wine or or a perfectly-fine wine, but metaphysically it's no longer the same.

Presumably you're asking about the punishment for employing metaphysical means to physically damage someone. If I recall correctly, Rabbi Bleich says it depends how those metaphysical means work -- are you asking God to cause the damage (but He may say no), or is it no different than shooting someone with a physical gun, just with different mechanics (where if God allows things to follow their normal course, damage would occur). He cites both interpretations; in the former interpretation, one would certainly be exempt, at least from the justice our courts can render.

  • Thank you for a great answer, I will look into the article and the Bava Kama. About your question, yes, I was thinking more along the lines of the last option - if you want to harm by thinking negative about a person, lets say for example due to jealousy and envy.
    – Levi
    Feb 18, 2015 at 19:24

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