Where in the Torah does it say this? What is the Lashon Haqodesh for this? How do I know when I'm fulfilling this and when I'm just being a jerk?

  • books.google.com/…
    – rosends
    Nov 21, 2016 at 2:20
  • Someone told me that he asked R. Aryeh Levin how to properly spread observance where it was lacking. R. Levin told him that he must remember that "Thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour" (Lev. 19:17) is sandwiched between "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart" (19:17) and "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (19:18).
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 21, 2016 at 2:56
  • If you are interested, I will post the above as an answer. Along with the Hebrew הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת-עֲמִיתֶךָ.
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 21, 2016 at 2:58

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure what the downvote was for. I think this is an excellent question.

The source is in Leviticus (Vayikra) 19:17, הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך ולא תשר עליו חטא - you should surely rebuke your fellow Jew and you should not bear a sin because of him. The Gemara expounds upon this passuk in Erchin 16b-17a, which is the primary source about this chiyuv. Among the main points:

  • There is a dispute whether you should continue rebuking him until he slaps you, curses you, or is merely upset at you. The Rambam paskens like the first opinion (not sure where off the top of my head, though Ein Mishlat to that sugya will tell you).
  • The Gemara in BM 33a adds that you should rebuke him even 100 times otherwise, and even if he is your Rebbe (though respectfully - see Kiddushin 30a).
  • People don't know how to rebuke properly anymore; those who say "remove that thorn from between your eyes" are responded to with "remove that beam from between your eyes." I understood that line in the sense of devarim shevev nichnasim lelev - as they gave an insincere rebuke, possibly for selfish purposes and not because they actually want to help the other person, the rebuke wasn't effective. (see Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 16b)


: אמר רבי טרפון: תמה אני אם יש אדם בדור הזה שיכול להוכיח אם אמר לו: טול קיסם מבין עיניך, והוא אומר לו: טול קורה מבין עיניך. אמר רבי אלעזר בן עזריה: תמיהני אם יש בדור הזה שיודע להוכיח. אמר לו רבי עקיבא: תמיהני אם יש בדור הזה שמקבל תוכחה ואמר רבי יוחנן בן נורי: מעיד אני עלי שמים וארץ שהרבה פעמים לקה עקיבא על ידי שהייתי קובל עליו לפני רבן גמליאל וכל שכן שהוספתי בו אהבה לקיים מה שנאמר ‘אל תוכח לץ פן ישנאך הוכח לחכם ויאהבך’

  • taken from mattersofinterest.info/tarfonbavlijesussermon
    – Michael16
    Nov 21, 2016 at 13:40
  • "I think this is an excellent question." You think people presenting random text and asking where it says it in the Torah is a good question?? I'm flabbergasted.
    – Double AA
    Nov 21, 2016 at 15:21
  • @DoubleAA The OP asked about the source and laws of Hocheiach Tochiach. What's the problem with that?
    – DonielF
    Nov 22, 2016 at 23:35
  • @DonielF Just because you can write a question which isn't too bad and the OP might enjoy reading, doesn't mean this is it. (And you know that already.)
    – Double AA
    Nov 23, 2016 at 3:36

I believe the sources say that rebuke is only obligatory/fulfillable when it's potentially constructive, in other words when there's a chance he will actually listen to you. For instance, if you speak to him in a very non-threatening way that conveys respect and goodwill, and he feels that you are on his side and only trying to help him, he is likely to consider what you're saying. If, however, you confront him with hostility or condescension, not only isn't that the rebuke required by the Torah, it is probably Onaat Devarim, a very serious transgression. I recall hearing in the name of a recent Gadol that nowadays we don't know how to give rebuke, and therefore (generally speaking) we shouldn't.

  • Could you name this gadol? Declaring the entire world unfit to perform a biblical commandment, is certainly a tremendous claim, and one would like some strong evidence...
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 21, 2016 at 5:35
  • @mevaqesh the evidence is all around you, just observe people rebuking each other. Does anything good usually come from it?
    – Jay
    Nov 21, 2016 at 5:46
  • I dont like the word rebuke much. But I have personally been the recipient of positive criticism, which I assume is the intent of the verse. I am sure many others have as well. || FWIW constructive criticism has about 12 million hits on google. Apparently its "a thing".
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 21, 2016 at 6:03
  • Let's say there was such an epidemic of poor social skills making it difficult to ever provide positive criticism; a biblical mitsvah. Rather than throwing up our hands in despair (Although this would be a thoroughly understandable reaction), we ought to to rally at least all of the resources we devote to P'til tekhelet, which seeks to allow people to better perform a hiddur in a mitsvah kiyumit, and channel it into the the effort of performing this mitsvah d'orayta hiyyuvit.
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 21, 2016 at 6:03
  • @mevaqesh go for it :) Seriously, I didn't intend that quote as an absolute rule, but rather to underscore my earlier point that great caution and honesty is required here. I do think that empirically most of the rebuke that is given is ineffective and often counterproductive, sometimes because of the delivery, sometimes because of the intentions of the one giving rebuke, sometimes because of the sensitivity of the rebukee, sometimes a combination. But I also agree that it can theoretically be done right, and sometimes - sometimes - is.
    – Jay
    Nov 21, 2016 at 6:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .