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The torah commands us to distance from a false thing. I would like to know if any halachic authorities have discussed whether or not this commandment may be put aside when dealing with a terminally ill child (or a similar situation) where one may wish to lie in order to provide comfort to the sick person.

  • Didn't Rabbi Akiva Eiger lie to prevent embarrassment to an old man at the seder? – ezra May 25 '17 at 14:57
  • Are you asking specifically about a child or any sick person (kind of implied in the last clause)? – Monica Cellio May 25 '17 at 15:07
  • I'll see if I can find sources, but something similar came up in a shiur that I attended recently. This might conflict with Western medical ethic's autonomy/self-determination ethic, but in Jewish law one might not be allowed to tell a patient about his own condition, under certain circumstances. (CYLOR) – Shokhet May 26 '17 at 0:14
  • Lie about what? – Shokhet May 26 '17 at 0:14
10

The Shulchan Arukh (YD 337) writes:

חולה שמת לו מת -- אין מודיעין אותו, שמא תטרף דעתו עליו. ואין קורעין חלוקו, ואין בוכין, ואין מספידין בפניו שלא ישבר לבו. ומשתיקין את המנחמין מפניו.‏
A sick person whose relative died -- we don't inform him lest he lose his mind. And we don't rip his clothing nor cry nor eulogize in front of him so his heart won't break. And we silence comforters in front of him. (my translation)

So yes we do lie if we expect the anguish might be dangerous to his health.

We even forgo the sick person's saying Kaddish for his now deceased parent (because he doesn't know to) or the honor of the deceased (by moving the body and comforters elsewhere) if need be since danger to life (Pikuach Nefesh) trumps all (Arukh haShulchan ibid.).

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    אין מודיעין אותו doesn't mean that we lie to them – Shmuel Brin May 25 '17 at 16:17
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    @ShmuelBrin What if he asks how they're doing? – Double AA May 25 '17 at 16:17
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    Change the topic? – Shmuel Brin May 25 '17 at 16:19
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    Although the Aruch Hashulchan (Pikuach Nefesh) is a source. – Shmuel Brin May 25 '17 at 16:20
  • @ShmuelBrin under halacha, are lies of omission the same as lies of commission? – rosends May 25 '17 at 17:31

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