We all live amongst non-Jews. Sometimes we meet a non-jew and befriend him because he shares the same values that we do.

Is one allowed to befriend a non-Jew?

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    what do you mean by "sharing values"? values are not things we choose. we believe God gave us the torah and commanded us to follow it. how does the nonjew share this?
    – ray
    Jun 6, 2016 at 21:18
  • @ray, I took the question to mean that the gentile believes the same as us (and thus follows the mitzvos b'ne Noach). But the question could certainly be clearer.
    – msh210
    Jun 6, 2016 at 22:03
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    Is there a hava amina that we can't?
    – rosends
    Jun 6, 2016 at 23:17
  • @msh210 it's ray. most nonjews amongst us are not noachides. i dont think this is what he meant
    – ray
    Jun 8, 2016 at 10:51
  • @ray it is possible to be a non-jew and share some values with us jews. For example, one of the Ten Commandments is to "Honor your Father and Mother," which is a value any non-jew could very easily agree with.
    – ava
    Nov 30, 2021 at 21:20

5 Answers 5


הֱוֵי מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן, אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְרוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה

Be of the students of Aaron: Loving peace and pursuing peace, loving mankind and bringing them close to the Torah.

(Tractate Avoth 1:12)

  • Whose translation is that? בְּרִיּוֹת are creatures, and if you're going to take it non-literally as meaning humans, then why not take it even more non-literally as meaning Jews?
    – msh210
    Jun 7, 2016 at 19:01
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    That said, if you have a chiyuv to love a turtle, certainly you have a chiyuv to love non-Jews. But I find it hard to believe that you can bring a turtle close to Torah.
    – DonielF
    Jun 7, 2016 at 19:06
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    @msh210, in Rabbinic literature, briyoth is generally used to refer to all mankind and occasionally to all living creatures, for example in medrash rabba e.g.:ויהי עשו איש יודע ציד, צד את הבריות בפיו; יקבוהו לאום, זה פרעה שגנז התבואה בשני רעבון והיו הבריות מקללין אותו, ;והיה מלסטם את הבריות, שנא׳ והוא יהיה פרא אדם; or most explicitly: (Shemoth Rabba 20:6) כל הימים שהיו הבריות רואים את ישראל, היו משבחין אותן.ומי היה משבחן?בלעם הרשע, שנאמר מה טובו אהליך יעקב כנחלים נטיו. בלעם ראה אותן ותמה, פרעה ראה אותם שורות שורות, ...! לכן נאמר: ויהי בשלח פרעה: daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/raba2/20.htm etc.
    – Loewian
    Jun 8, 2016 at 14:47
  • @msh210 (as I pointed out to DanF here: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/56415/…)
    – Loewian
    Jun 8, 2016 at 14:47
  • @msh210 and as DonielFilreis notes, contextually, this is clearly an example of the rule, not the exception (and as I also noted to DanF, I've never heard a drash "atem kruyin briyoth...")
    – Loewian
    Jun 8, 2016 at 14:50

@Aaron: Yes, there is a negative commandment to contradict it.

The Passuk says (Devarim 7:2) "lo sechaneim (לא תחנם)." The Gemara (Avodah Zarah 20a) gives three translations: "do not give them occupation in the land (לא תתן להם חנייה)," "do not grant them favor (לא תתן להם חן)," and "do not give them free gifts (לא תתן להם מתנת חנם)."

The translation I'd like to focus on is the second one, not to grant them favor. The Gemara in Erchin (14a), in the process of its discussion regarding the Tanna of the Mishnah, brings down the ruling of Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav, that one is not allowed to say how wonderful a non-Jew is. Rashi says that the above passuk from Devarim, according to the second translation of the Gemara in Avodah Zarah, is his source.

Based on this, it may very well be prohibited.

On the other hand, there's also an Issur against a Chillul Hashem. Turning down another's efforts to befriend you might be considered a Chillul Hashem. Perhaps one could reconcile the two sources by saying that although the first Issur says that you can't go out of your way to befriend him, the second Issur would obligate you to befriend him if and only if he approaches you first. (It's perhaps for this reason that there are leniencies regarding the Issur of Lo Sechaneim. Please note that I'm not a Rav; I'm just giving what I feel is a logical reason that may very well be entirely wrong.)

As for your passuk, the Mefarshim seem to equate that positive Mitzvah with the negative one written in Shemos 22:20 - "a geir do not insult and do not oppress, for you were geirim in Mitzraim." Although I haven't gone in-depth on your passuk, the Mishnah in Bava Metzia (58b, and Gemara there) deals with the prohibition carried by the passuk in Shemos, and it clearly holds it's referring to converts: "If a person is a child of converts, don't tell him, 'Remember the deeds of your forefathers,' as the passuk says, 'a convert do not insult and do not oppress.'"

As for your problem with the second half of the passuk, don't worry; you're not the first to have posed that issue. Rashi to that passuk in Shemos says, "If you insult him, he's able to insult you and say to you, also you came from converts; any blemishes you have, don't say about your friend. Any use of 'geir' [refers to] a person who was not born there, but rather came there from somewhere else to live there." So although you're right in interpreting the second half of the passuk as referring to a stranger, not a convert, the Gemara still interprets the first half, the actual prohibition, as referring to converts. Thus, the geir's response would be: "You're insulting me because I'm spiritually a stranger? You guys were physically strangers back in Mitzraim!"

EDIT: In Kiddushin (68a), the Gemara, attempting to find a source that Kiddushin doesn't take effect between a Jew and a non-Jew, settles on the passuk of "lo sischanein bam," do not marry them (Devarim 7:3). Rashi doesn't seem to have an issue with equating the Seven Nations, of whom the passuk is speaking, and other non-Jewish nations. Tosfos, however, take issue with this point, and thus they answer that since the passuk concludes "do not give your sons to their daughters or take their daughters for your sons," we can learn two things, since the remainder of the passuk is extraneous. (Tosfos later point out that ultimately we learn it from a different passuk; this entire discussion is in the Gemara's Hava Aminah.)

According to Rashi, our passuk, too, should be able to be applied to all non-Jews. According to Tosfos, though, how can we include the Seven Nations in the prohibition of lo sechaneim?

Funny you should ask. I didn't see this the first time through, but Tosfos actually address this question in their comments to the Gemara in Avodah Zarah. He says that by any Mitzvah that you could theoretically come up with a reason that they should only apply to the Seven Nations (beyond the fact that the Seven Nations are written in the passuk) you need a special inclusion for other nations. Thus, since we have an obligation to wipe out the Seven Nations, one might think that it's only by them that there's no Kiddushin.

As for your question about killing out all non-Jews? Tosfos address that one, too. Following his above thesis, they write that it's only by the Seven Nations that we have an obligation to kill; all other nations we come across the chiyuv isn't to kill but to enslave (Devarim 20:11).

  • It's "sichonneim" with a kamatz katan
    – Double AA
    Jun 7, 2016 at 0:00
  • Yeah, I know. I just chose a different English vowel to represent it.
    – DonielF
    Jun 7, 2016 at 1:42
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    @DonielFilreis Your pasuk doesn't make contextual sense. If we were to follow your pasuk, then we are also obligated to kill all non Jews. Deuteronomy 7 clearly ONLY refers to the 7 nations of Kanaan, which have no relation to gentiles of today
    – Aaron
    Jun 7, 2016 at 5:15
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    This is clearly wrong
    – Dude
    Jun 7, 2016 at 6:59
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    @Aaron "If we were to follow your pasuk" Indeed, such I suspect is the practice of Karaites. Chazal were obviously aware of what you point out when they recorded the cited laws.
    – Double AA
    Jun 7, 2016 at 15:32

some sources. Rabbi Chaim Vital writes in Shaarei Kedusha Part 1 gate 5:

"be joyful, even during times of suffering, love all people even gentiles, don't be jealous for anything because like the shadow of the day is our time on the land".

and regarding befriending (Berachot 17): "No one ever greeted R. Yochanan ben Zakai (he always greeted first), even a Nochri (non-Jew) in the market".

On the other hand, the Rabbis forbade drinking the wine of nonjews so as not to mingle with them excessively leading to intermarriage. one has to know how to balance this. many intermarriages started out by just being friendly.


'because they share the same values as we do'

Because it is advantageous for you to be associated with people who share the same values there is no issur of lo sechanem.

Otherwise you would ostracise yourself from society.

Many Jews were saved in the holocaust due to friendships with local gentiles.

  • 1
    "Because it is advantageous for you to be associated with people who share the same values there is no issur of lo sechanem." How do you know this?
    – Double AA
    Jun 9, 2016 at 1:42

Yes! It's even a miswah to do so!

Deuteronomy 10:19

יט וַאֲהַבְתֶּם, אֶת-הַגֵּר: כִּי-גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם, בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. 19

Love ye therefore the stranger; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Note: This usage of ger cannot be convert, for we were not converts to the land of Egypt. So contextually, we must love the foreigner/ the stranger. This is agreed to by the Ramban

The correct interpretation appears to me to be that He is saying: do not wrong a stranger or oppress him, thinking as you might that none can deliver him out of your hand; for you know that you were strangers in the land of Egypt and I saw the oppression with which the Egyptian oppressed you, and I avenged your cause on them, because I behold the tears of such who are oppressed and have no comforter, and on the side of their oppressors there is power, and I deliver each one from him that is too strong for him. Likewise you shall not afflict the widow and the orphan for I will hear their cry, for all these people do not rely upon themselves but trust in Me. And in another verse he added this reason: for you know what it feels like to be a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt. That is to say, you know that every stranger feels depressed, and is always sighing and crying, and his eyes are always directed towards G-d, therefore He will have mercy upon him even as He showed mercy to you, as it is written, and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up to God by reason of the bondage, meaning that He had mercy on them, not because of their merits but only on account of the bondage [and likewise He has mercy on all who are oppressed.]

Source: http://www.rabbisacks.org/covenant-conversation-5768-mishpatim-loving-the-stranger/

  • 2
    Aaron @mevaqesh : "a valid interpretation nonetheless" What does "valid" mean in that phrase, and how do you know it applies here? If you mean "given the words of the verse in this quote you can't prove it wrong" then that's an incredibly weak form of validity, and in particular one which is of nearly no use to the community here.
    – Double AA
    Jun 6, 2016 at 22:10
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    The Sefer HaChinuch clearly says it means a convert: שנצטוינו לאהוב הגרים, כלומר שנזהר שלא לצער אותם בשום דבר... והגרים הם כל מי שנתחבר אלינו משאר האומות שהניח דתו ונכנס בדתנו, ועליהם נאמר (דברים י, יט): "וַאֲהַבְתֶּם אֶת הַגֵּר כִּי גֵּרִים הֱיִיתֶם". The geirim are everyone who joined us from the other nations... who left behind his religion and entered our religion.
    – Miriam
    Jun 7, 2016 at 18:41
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    And so does the Rambam (Hilchos Deos 6:4) אהבת הגר שבא ונכנס תחת כנפי השכינה, שתי מצוות עשה: אחת מפני שהוא בכלל ריעים, ואחת מפני שהוא גר והתורה אמרה "ואהבתם, את הגר" (דברים י,יט). That it is a ger who enters under the wings of the Shechinah.
    – Miriam
    Jun 7, 2016 at 18:45
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    You would need to justify in your post that ger here means a gentile. You don't quote that part of Rabbi Sacks's column. And the part of his column that's relevant to that claim states that one way to read the word ger in general -- he doesn't even say that this is an accepted l'halacha way to read it in this verse! -- is that some gentiles are included.
    – msh210
    Jun 7, 2016 at 19:05
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    Absolutely! You're welcome to represent your solitary opinion in an answer. But then you can expect it to be downvoted.
    – msh210
    Jun 7, 2016 at 19:13

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