There is a Biblical commandment to stand before the wise or elderly. Nevertheless, one full of sins is considered to have forfeited his honor and one is therefore absolved of the requirement to stand before such a person (Sefer HaHinukh, Mizwah 257).

Let's assume a large percentage of a given population either conspires to, aides to or gives support to killing Jews (e.g. publicly honors those who kill Jews).

If a Jew sees an elderly person from said population - but, is not certain that that individual conspires to, aids to or gives support to killing Jews - is he (the Jew) required to stand in front of such an elderly person?

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    @Lee I can't say what is impossible, but I'd say it's highly likely you are just spreading negative stereotypes and hatred unnecessarily.
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 22:21
  • Potential killer... תקום מיד אפילומאם הוא צעיר, תקום ותברח
    – kouty
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 0:33
  • IDK if this mitzvah applies to honoring Gentiles. As for standing up before a Jewish anti-Semite, it may be required anyway. One general concept is that the end of the verse says to revere the face of a "zaken" which many translate as "zeh shekinah chachmah" - one that acquired wisdom. Are these 2 attached or are they separate mitzvoth? E.g. do you have to stand before an elderly idiot?
    – DanF
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 14:23
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    For most of the past 5000 years, most non-Jews (in the vicinity of Jews) have been haters of Jews. The fact that no one noted this when detailing the need to honor the elderly is telling. Living among non-Jews who want to kill you is not a new phenomenon in the slightest.
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 20:31
  • I asked one of our community Rabbis today and he said there is no hiyuv; but, that it's the proper thing to do even if one is not required by Halakhah.
    – Lee
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


The line in the Chinuch that you're referring to is:

וזה שאמרו (סנהדרין פה, א) בתנאי שלא יהיה בעל עברות, שאם כן מנע עצמו מכבוד.‏

And this is what [the Sages] said (Sanhedrin 85a): On condidtion that [the elder] is not a person of transgressions, for if so, he has removed himself from honor.

(My translation; better translations of "בעל עברות" welcome.)

This passages appears to be explicitly talking about an individual and his transgressions. It seems quite a stretch to extend this concept to the attitudes and transgressions of some percentage of a population the individual is a member of.

As a matter of general conduct, I would recommend generally erring on the side of giving honor. As Ben Zoma says in Avot 4:1:

אֵיזֶהוּ מְכֻבָּד, הַמְכַבֵּד אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת

Who is honored? He who honors the created beings

Giving honor to another human, whether required by a particular commandment or not, confers honor upon you, so I'd say it's in your best interest to err toward doing it. It may even help make a difference in the target's future choices in associating or not with the sinning portion of the population that he's a member of.

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    While every human demands a degree of dignity, showing special respect for the the undeserving, detracts from the meaningfulness of the gesture when applied to those who rightfully deserve it.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 20:38
  • It seems quite a stretch to extend this concept to the attitudes and transgressions of some percentage of a population the individual is a member of. Its not a stretch at all, if nothing else, standing up for the elderly is likely rabbinic (cf. Rambam), and safek d'rabanan l'kula.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 20:39
  • @mevaqesh There's no basis established here for "undeserving."
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 20:39
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    Even if it were biblical, there are rules governing how we deal with doubts, and the degrees of certainly necessary in different contexts; this is the question of the OP. It requires no stretch whatsoever.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 20:40
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    @mevaqesh it sounds to me like you ought to either edit some additional principles into the question or write an answer. I stand by this one.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 21:11

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