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Board games have absolutely no value - there is nothing won and nothing lost.

In such a situation is it permissible according to halakhah to cheat?

I am asking, not to find a reason to be deceitful with the permission of the Torah, but to see if this is one of those things (perhaps like saying "Oh my God") that we are raised to think is a sin but isn't really.

Thanks.

  • we are not allowed to play gambling games not even with minors without money so as to not teach them middoth ro.being deceitful even in a board game is a middo ro and can cause you to be deceitful in more important things like business transactions. therefore it is forbidden in my opinion – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Jul 6 '15 at 21:28
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    Come on, ahhi. Candyland is not a "gambling game" and I need you to bring a source for the games that are. Frankly, I agree that it is certainly a middah ra but sources are the order of the day. Kol tuv wa-hasslahhah. – user3342 Jul 6 '15 at 21:34
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    That sounds like גניבת דעת – Emilios1995 Jul 6 '15 at 21:53
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    I think that playing board games with your kids can teache them discipline, patience, sharing as well as other important skills depending on the board game. Certain types of cheating, I think, are definitely against halacha. E.g. - small kids aren't as good at spelling as adults (that's debatable, of course ;-) So, even if you have good intentions to help your child win in Scrabble, you would be misleading them ("Lifnei Iver") if you let them intentionally misspell a word or worse put down a non-existing word. That makes them think that the word is a valid word. – DanF Jul 6 '15 at 21:53
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    Children mimic their parents. Even if it may be permissible, by halacha, it's horrible mentoring! One of my relatives used to cheat when I played games. Kids can figure it out pretty quickly. Guess what? I never played board games with him again, even as an adult. As a kid, I wonder, why does this person have to have such an ego to cheat in chess? Does he need to win that badly? – DanF Jul 6 '15 at 21:55
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The Talmud (Art Scroll Yevamot volume 2 63a4) PDF of actual gemara page states:

Rav's wife would aggravate him. When he would tell her, "Prepare me lentils." she would [instead] prepare chimtzei (Rashi - possibly peas) [If he said, "Prepare me] chimtzei", she would [instead] prepare lentils. (Meiri states that she would do the opposit of what he asked in other matters as well). When his son Chiya grew up [and would relay his father's request to his mother], he would reverse [the requests] to her, [so that his father would en up receiving exactly what he requested]. [Upon receiving the desired dish and not realizing Chiya's subterfuge,] he (Rav) said to him (Chiya) "Your mother has improved [her ways]!" He (Chiya) replied to him "It was actually I who reversed [you request] to her." He (Rav) replied to him, This bears out the popular saying: '[The child] who comes from you will educate you' [I too should have thought of this trick]. [However] you should not do this, for it says (Jeremiah 9:4) they train their tounge to speak falsehood, striving etc. (to be iniquitous)

Similarly, you would be training the children (as well as yourself) to cheat As we see from the medrash, this is not allowed even from "good" motives. Even when there are circumstances in which one is allowed to lie (such as Yosef's brothers saying "our father said") it is strictly limited and would not apply to the case you mention.

Additionally I saw in Tradition

The Talmud (Shevuot 3 I a) presents two interesting cases which may serve as the basis of an inquiry concerning the parameters of truth.

A. How do we know that a disciple sitting before his master, who sees that the poor- man is right and the wealthy man wrong, should not remain silent? Because it is said: "From a false matter keep far" (Exodus 23: 7).

B. A disciple to whom his master says, "You know that if I were given a hundred manehs, I would not tell a lie; now so-and-so owes me one maneh . . . rand) I have definitely one witness; you come and stand there, but you need not say anything, so that you will not be uttering a lie from your mouth; - (But the debtor will think you have come to give evidence and wil perhaps admit the debt of his own accord). Even so, this is prohibited because it is said: "From a false matter keep far."

The Sephardic author of Ben Yehoyada suggests (Yevamot 65b) that the general rule permitting truth to be altered for purposes of peace has a basic limitation: i.e., the rule relates only to a situation where there is - a preexisting problem where an untrue statement may. maintain calm and harmony. However, where no prior problematic condition exists, the general rule is not applicable and additional reasons must be developed to sustain any alteration of truth.

  • "Smackeroos!" I heard this story from my Rav a few months ago. Offhand guess where this is from - Avot D'rav Natan? I think it's near the beginning. – DanF Jul 6 '15 at 22:32
  • @DanF Found and adde3d the Yevamos reference – sabbahillel Jul 6 '15 at 23:20
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Cheating your opponent at chess (as an example) by using (without their knowledge) a software program that helps you pick the right moves would almost certainly be "G'neivat Daat" - stolen knowledge.. i.e. you are withholding the fact he is playing against a program.

Similarly using such help with scrabble (words with friends) etc. would be too.

This is assuming you are not playing for money in which case it would be proper theft too.

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Messilat Yesharim 12:46:

Truth is one of the pillars upon which the world stands (Pirkei Avot 1:18). Speaking falsehood, then, is comparable to removing the foundation of the world; and, conversely, if one is heedful of the truth it is as if he maintains the world's foundation. Our Sages of blessed memory told us (Sanhedrin 97a) of a community which was watchful of truth and in which the Angel of Death was powerless; but because the wife of a certain teacher altered her language, even though her intentions were good, the Angel of Death was loosed upon it. After she had been driven away because of this, the old serenity returned. There is no need to dwell further upon this because it is dictated by intelligence and borne out by reason.

Cheating is a form of lying. Thus, you can easily relate this to the principle stated above.

If parents cheat while playing board games with their children, this principle is destructive, sometimes beyond repair! Children think the "world" of their parents. So, if the above principle states that falsehood is like destroying the world, if you cheat in front of your own children, it's as if you destroyed their world and their relationship with you!

In terms of practicality with the board games, I would discourage cheating even if the intention is to help your child win the game and make him / her happy. First of all, since children mimic their parents, you teach tem that cheating is permissible, and they may learn to cheat when they play with their friends. Secondly, it sends a wrong perception of life that you always have to win! Reality of life is that you need to learn how to lose and deal with it properly.

Note that I stated that you should not cheat to let your child win. That's different from following the rules but playing poorly so that your child can win. That's not cheating, but, even that sends the wrong message.

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Proverbs 26:18-19 says:

Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death

is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”

Lying in a game is like playing with a rifle. Although it is only a "game", a bullet might inadvertently come out of the rifle and kill somebody.

When a person gets used to lying, even if only in a game, this becomes a habit, and this habit might be used in a harmful way in another situation.

See my article (Hebrew) for details.

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    Would you please summarise the main points here and provide the link only for further reading? Link only answers aren't generally helpful. – CJ Dennis Jul 7 '15 at 8:15

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