If a person plans to do something that they know is an aveira, should they daven to be successful?

I think one of the main things this question is exploring is how a person should relate to God vis-a-vis purposefully wrong actions.

  • See the end of g'moro brochos. – newcomer Jun 7 '16 at 20:49
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    @newcomer it's not in the gemara but in the Ein Yaakov – ertert3terte Jun 7 '16 at 21:36
  • That gemara is the main source of the Rashbatz brought in the answer below. – Gavriel Jun 9 '16 at 19:08
  • It was originally in the Gemara but was removed at some point in our history. – Mark A. Sep 2 '16 at 20:39

The Rashba”tz, in Magen Avot on Pirkei Avot, chapter 21 says that even a sinner have in mind “leshem shomayim” and brings the example of the thief who prays that Hashem should give him success in his breaking-in to the house and the oath that Saul took in the name of Hashem when he enquired of the familiar spirit in Ein Dor and another example.

הרשב"ץ‏‏ קובע שגם אדם חוטא יש לו לכוון לשם שמים, וכדוגמה הוא מביא את סיפור הגנב המתפלל לה' שיצליח בפריצה שלו, ואת השבועה שנשבע שאול בשם ה' כאשר ביקר אצל בעלת האוב בעין דור, שמדומה במדרש תנחומא לאישה נואפת שנשבעת בחיי בעלה

It seems therefore that one should daven for success in an aveira, amazing as it sounds.

1. Found in a footnote to the Wikipedia article on Aveirah Lishmo

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    Slight misrepresentation here. He is specifically referring to someone who due to extraneous circumstances must sin, such committing an act of stealing or witchcraft in order to save their life. In that situation one should make sure that they're 'sin' is done with good intent. – user6591 Jun 8 '16 at 1:10
  • @user6591 Your comment clarifies this scenario a lot. Perhaps you should move your comment into the above answer? I think several readers, including myself, were confused with the premise of the original question. I can't imagine any rav / chacham encouraging a sin. – DanF Jun 8 '16 at 14:10
  • @DanF I think an edit like that would be better performed by Avraham Yitzchok. Also of note IIRC correctly, Tosafos mentions that when someone must steal in order to save their life, it is only allowed with the precondition that they have intention of paying the owner back. – user6591 Jun 8 '16 at 14:14
  • @user6591 Re last sentence - What if someone is too poor to pay back the owner? If I infer correctly from the above, a poor starving person may not steal in order to save his life? That doesn't sound right. If you can refer me to the location of the Tosfot, perhaps, we can save a good bit of exchanging comments. Chag Same'ach.. – DanF Jun 8 '16 at 16:11
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    If you look in the Rashbatz himself you'll see that he does discuss someone doing an aveirah with no positive objective in mind and says that even he should pray to God to be successful in doing the aveirah. His source is gemara brachos 63a (IIRC). I don't think the original post has to be edited at all. – Gavriel Jun 9 '16 at 13:01

There is a Baal Shem Tov story about a robber who got brachos from the Besht. When questioned about why he associated with the thief, the Besht replied that the commandment "make for youurself a rabbi" (pirkei avot) was not only given to the rigeous. Even the wicked need rabbis.

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