Is there not a principle that one should not tell another Jew or group of Jews the Halacha if he or she knows for certain that the Jew or the group of Jews will violate it?

If there is such a principle (I thought I read this once), what is the term for it?

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    Sidney76, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! I hope you get helpful answers to this question, and that you explore other material on Mi Yodeya, perhaps starting with some of our other Q&A on rebuke-tochacha. See you around!
    – Isaac Moses
    Jul 10, 2017 at 13:40
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    – MTL
    Jul 10, 2017 at 17:23
  • The Chofetz Chaim in the introduction to his Sefer bearing the same name has a discussion on that principle (I believe using the source @Loewian quotes). Jul 10, 2017 at 18:20

3 Answers 3


The Sefer Hachinuch Mitzva 239 - רלט. מצות תוכחה לישראל שאינו נוהג כשורה - does mention such a concept.

ומכל מקום, אמרו זכרונם לברכה (שם) גם כן, שאם יראה המוכיח שאין בדברי תוכחותיו שום תועלת נמצא, מתוך גדל רשע החוטא, או שהוא אלם ורשע ביותר ומתירא ממנו שלא יעמד עליו ויהרגנו שאינו חיב במצוה זו באיש כזה, וזהו אמרם זכרונם לברכה (יבמות ס"ה:) כשם שמצוה לומר דבר הנשמע, כך מצוה לשתק במקום שאין הדבר נשמע, לפי שיהיה בענין קלון למוכיח ולא תועלת לאשר הוכח. ומכל מקום יש להתישב לכל בר נפש ולהשגיח הרבה בענינים אלה, ולחשב ולראות אם יהיה תועלת בדבריו אל החוטא, שיוכיחנו ויבטח בשם יתברך, כי הוא יעזרנו במלחמו עם שונאיו, ואל ירך לבבו ולא יירא, כי השם שומר את כל אוהביו ואת כל הרשעים ישמיד, ואם ישוב החוטא יהיה לו בזה שכר גדול, ומי שבידו להשיבו ולמחות בו ולא מחה הוא נתפש על חטאו, וזה דבר ברור מדברי רבותינו (שבת נ"ה א'), גם מן הכתוב (ישעיהו ג' י"ד). ועוד אמרו זכרונם לברכה (שם) שאפילו הקטן חייב להוכיח הגדול אם יראה הגדול הולך בדרך לא טוב.‏

Roughly translated as:

Nevertheless (despite the Mitzva to rebuke), the rule is that if one is convinced that the sinner will not listen to the rebuke - either because of his wickedness, or you're afraid of his violent tendencies - then one is exempt from rebuking.

As the Rabbis Of Blessed Memory have said: "the same way it's a Mitzva to say what will be heard, so it is a Mitzva to refrain from saying things that will be ignored".

However one shouldn't take this exemption lightly, rather one should be brave and attempt to rebuke them, and Hashem will help you in your quest to vanquish evil from the world.


The phrase you're looking for may be

אלא הנח להם לישראל מוטב שיהיו שוגגין ואל יהיו מזידין

But leave the Jews alone. It is better that they be unwitting sinners and not be intentional sinners.

which comes from the Talmud - Beitza 30a and Bava Batra 60b.

This principle is employed frequently in Halachic works, when determining whether it's worthwhile to try to correct a popular, but incorrect practice. Of course, this consideration is not dispositive on its own; it's part of the mix along with, among other principles, the Commandment of rebuke cited in Danny Schoemann's answer.

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    Thank you very much, Isaac Moses. That is an extremely helpful response. And thank you, also, for your extremely kind welcome to the site. I appreciate your graciousness and assistance. Kol tuv.
    – Sidney76
    Jul 10, 2017 at 14:08

Perhaps you are refering to the Talmudic principle of mutav sheyihyu shoggegin v'al yihyu meizidin" (better that they be unwitting [sinners] and not be wanton [sinners]) found for example, in Beitza 30a:

א"ל רבא בר רב חנין לאביי תנן אין מטפחין ואין מספקין ואין מרקדין והאידנא דקא חזינן דעבדן הכי ולא אמרינן להו ולא מידי אמר ליה ולטעמך הא דאמר (רבא) לא ליתיב איניש אפומא דלחיא דלמא מגנדר ליה חפץ ואתי לאתויי (ד' אמות ברה"ר) והא הני נשי דשקלן חצבייהו ואזלן ויתבן אפומא דמבואה ולא אמרינן להו ולא מידי אלא הנח להם לישראל מוטב שיהיו שוגגין ואל יהיו מזידין הכא נמי הנח להם לישראל מוטב שיהיו שוגגין ואל יהיו מזידין והני מילי בדרבנן אבל בדאורייתא לא ולא היא לא שנא בדאורייתא ולא שנא בדרבנן לא אמרינן להו ולא מידי דהא תוספת יום הכפורים דאורייתא הוא ואכלי ושתו עד שחשכה ולא אמרינן להו ולא מידי

Rava bar Rav Ḥanin said to Abaye: We learned in a mishna: The Rabbis decreed that one may not clap, nor strike a hand on his thigh, nor dance on a Festival, lest he come to repair musical instruments. But nowadays we see that women do so, and yet we do not say anything to them. He said to him: And according to your reasoning, how do you explain that which Rava said: A person should not sit at the entrance to an alleyway, next to the side post that has been placed at the edge of an alleyway in order for it to be considered a private domain, as perhaps an object will roll away from him and he will come to carry it four cubits in the public domain, thereby transgressing a biblical prohibition? But don’t these women take their jugs, and go, and sit at the entrance to an alleyway, and we do not say anything to them? Rather, the accepted principle is: Leave the Jews alone; it is better that they be unwitting sinners and not be intentional sinners. If people engage in a certain behavior that cannot be corrected, it is better not to reprove them, as they are likely to continue regardless of the reproof, and then they will be sinning intentionally. It is therefore preferable for them to be unaware that they are violating a prohibition and remain merely unwitting sinners. Here, too, with regard to clapping and dancing, leave the Jews alone; it is better that they be unwitting sinners and not be intentional sinners. The Gemara comments: There were those who understood that this principle applies only to rabbinic prohibitions but not to Torah prohibitions, with regard to which the transgressors must be reprimanded. However, this is not so; it is no different whether the prohibition is by Torah law or whether it is by rabbinic law, we do not say anything to them. For example, on the eve of Yom Kippur, there is an obligation that one begin the fast while it is still day, before sunset, as the extension of Yom Kippur. During this time, one must observe all the halakhot. This mitzva of extending Yom Kippur is by Torah law, and yet people eat and drink until darkness falls but we do not say anything to them, as we know they will pay no attention.

This principle is used by later halachic authorities (such as by the Rosh and Ramo with regard to the already widespread consumption of chodosh) and is also mentioned by the Maharatz Chiyus in his Darkhei Hahora'a.

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    Thank you, Loewian. I believe that is the principle that I read. I very much appreciate your kind assistance. Many thanks!
    – Sidney76
    Jul 10, 2017 at 14:07

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