In shema we say:

And they shall be tzitzit for you, and when you look at them you will remember all of the Lord's commandments and do them and not follow after your heart and after your eyes which lead you astray.

With that being the case if one finds, say, a competent mechanic that he feels will do a great job but the person speaks using profanities and has immodest posters on the walls, should he avoid such an environment and seek a more "kosher" mechanic instead - one that might not do as a good a job?

  • 4
    It seems to me that which mechanic one should choose in such a situation would depend on many, many factors that are specific to the particular situation, including the type and severity of the modesty breaches, the expected degree of required exposure to them, whether anything could be done to mitigate the exposure, the expected benefit of using the "better" mechanic, one's sensitivity to that benefit, the modesty environment which one generally inhabits otherwise, etc. I don't think it's possible to diagnose this trade-off in general. If one has this concern, one should consult one's rabbi.
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 15, 2015 at 14:17
  • Rabbi is on Bein Hazmanim break... :(
    – Ani Yodea
    Apr 15, 2015 at 14:23
  • 7
    Sorry, but Mi Yodeya is not a substitute for your rabbi.
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 15, 2015 at 14:24
  • The question was not intended to be that. It's just "research".
    – Ani Yodea
    Apr 15, 2015 at 14:25
  • @IsaacMoses - fuhneee... What if the rabbi who's on break asked the same question?
    – DanF
    Apr 15, 2015 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


The first source for such discussions is the Talmud Bava Basra 57b.

ועוצם עיניו מראות ברע א"ר חייא בר אבא זה שאין מסתכל בנשים בשעה שעומדות על הכביסה היכי דמי אי דאיכא דרכא אחריתא רשע הוא אי דליכא דרכא אחריתא אנוס הוא לעולם דליכא דרכא אחריתא ואפ"ה מיבעי ליה למינס נפשיה

" ... and closes his eyes from seeing evil" (Yishayahu 33:15) Rabbi Chiya Bar Abba said "This is one who doesn't gaze [When he is walking at the river's edge - Rashbam] at women when they are standing at the laundry." What is the case? [The implication is that if he fails to close his eyes, he is neither righteous nor wicked - Rashbam]. If he had another way to walk [to avoid seeing it] - he is wicked [even if he closed his eyes - Rashbam], if he had no other way to walk, he is an Oneis. Actually it is a case where there is no other way to walk, nevertheless he should turn himself away [look in a different direction, then he is pious - Rashbam].

So the implication is it is completely forbidden to get into a situation where a person could see immodest things if there are alternatives, but otherwise one does not need to be trapped.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shut Even Haeizer Vol. 1 #56) says that the issue here is that whether or not one actually looks, the knowledge of what is there itself creates bad thoughts, therefore there is no real distinction between looking and not looking in that situation and then goes on to suggest reasons why still keeping ones eyes averted is pious behavior.

As a practical matter, it will depend on what options you have and what would rise to the equivalent of "having another route". This in regards to immodest things. Beir Mayim Chaim - Hilchos Loshon Hara Rule 6 says that the Talmud here is specifically speaking about matters of immodesty which a person naturally has an outsized desire for. In other matters, taking another route would not be necessary.


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