Is the word zakai (exempt) (as opposed to hiav, guilty) different from the word mutar (permitted) or the word patur (actually a phrase, patur aval assur, without penalty but prohibited)? If so, how are these terms used differently, and when is the word zakai used rather than these other terms. (I noticed the word zakai on page 4A of TB brachot).

  • 1
    In addition to the answers below, "zakai" is related to "zoche" which means "to merit" or "to deserve (something)". An innocent person is "worthy" or "meritorious" (i.e. - he did nothing wrong.)
    – DanF
    Aug 13, 2015 at 16:24
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    Seems off-topic as Hebrew language
    – DonielF
    Dec 11, 2017 at 19:58

2 Answers 2


Zakai refers to a person who wins a court case; mutar refers to something (or someone) being permitted; patur means exempt from an obligation.


Zakai means innocent or worthy. It refers to a person who is either innocent or guilty; good or bad.

Mutar means permissible. It refers to an act, which can be permitted or forbidden.

Patur means exempt or discharged. Like zakai, it refers to the person, but it does not speak to the character of the person as zakai does; it simply discharges the person from liability or obligation.

The Jastrow Dictionary is a useful source.

  • So the word hiav is used in two ways, to mean a guilty person or an action liable for punishment, while zakai is only used to mean an innocent person and a different word, mutar, is used to mean a permitted action.
    – Yehuda W
    Aug 13, 2015 at 14:45
  • @YehudaW That is correct.
    – Dov F
    Aug 13, 2015 at 18:17

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