Is there any situation whereby a Pinchas-style execution would be justified nowadays?

I am particularly interested in whether a 'zealous act' against a public sexually problematic sin is possible in theory nowadays. If so how would one judge alone during this moment (as did Pinchas). How would one know how and when to act?

(Major disclaimer: this question is not meant to be provocative and NO ONE should take the law into their own hands!)

  • 1
    For the record, per Rashi, Pinchas' "zealotry" occurred after confirming with Moshe that it was the proper course of action (i.e. not a brash, spur-of-the-moment decision). (Don't remember where I heard this next part, but I recall hearing it from somewhere) Additionally, G-D Himself had to let people know that what Pinchas did was appropriate, as people were upset at what he did and wanted to punish him for his actions. And this was even with the plague ending due to his actions. So long story short, it's not that simple to do a Pinchas-style action. Jul 24, 2016 at 13:09
  • @Salmonius2 How could he have conferred with Moshe? He killed Zimri in the middle of the act
    – SAH
    Oct 10, 2018 at 17:04
  • @Salmononius2 It’s a machlokes Amoraim. Rashi follows Rav, but Shmuel learns that what Pinchas “saw” was exactly the opposite, that he specifically shouldn’t ask, but rather go ahead and do the action.
    – DonielF
    Aug 20, 2019 at 2:40

1 Answer 1


The mishna says הבועל ארמית קנאין פוגעין בו. This is a limited law for only one specific case of a sexual sin.

The gemara limits further and says that one can only kill the perpetrators in the case where they are in the middle of the act and when the act is performed in public (as in the case of Pinchas).

The Rambam brings this law in Mishneh Torah Sefer Shoftim Chapter 18 and the Shulchan Oruch and Rema mention this law in Even Haezer Chapter 16.

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel was asked about the applicability of this law today and answered: "It appears this law no longer applies as no benefit comes from killing the perpetrator. Rather it is the opposite, doing so would cause more harm than good."

  • Following from the first 3 paragraphs, id there anyone who DOES therefore permit this nowadays for a public sexual sin?
    – bondonk
    Jul 26, 2016 at 19:24
  • First of all don't forget this is only for one specific type of sexual sin. If any Rav in Israel would permit something like that I am almost positive he would be put in jail. I'm not sure what would happen in other countries. Jul 27, 2016 at 9:21
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    Can you summarize how Rabbi Ariel concludes that this law wouldn't apply nowadays?
    – Chaim
    Jul 29, 2016 at 13:25
  • @Chaim I translated everything he wrote. Seems like a svara. Jul 31, 2016 at 6:30

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