These are two concepts in Judaism:

עשה דוחה לא תעשה - that if there is a Mitzvah Asei in the Torah, and a Mitzvas Lo Sasei, we say that the Asei overrides the Lo Sasei, and one should do it.

For example: Attaching woolen Tzitzis to a Linen garment.

מצווה הבאה בעבירה - that if there's a Mitzvah and one does it "through" an Averiah, we say that it's not a Mitzvah, and one should not do it.

For example: Eating stolen Matzah on Pesach.

These two ideas seem similar. What makes us decide where to apply the 1st idea vs. the 2nd? What's the underlying difference?


3 Answers 3


If all conditions are right for the Asei to override the Lo Sasei, then it is permitted. Otherwise, it is a Mitzva haBa bAveira.

Among the conditions that must be met:

  • Fulfillment of the mitzva must occur at the same time (or with the same action) as the Aveira (Beitza 8b: בעידנא דקא מעקר לאו קא מוקים לעשה)
  • It isn't possible to avoid the conflict by performing the mitzva some other way (Kesubos 40a)
  • The Aveira mustn't be accompanied by another Mitzva (Shabbos 25a: אין עשה דוחה את לא תעשה ועשה)
  • The Aveira cannot be a serious one; e.g. punished by Kareis (Yevamos 3b)
  • The situation doesn't involve the Temple (Zevachim 97b: אין עשה דוחה לא תעשה שבמקדש)
  • The Asei isn't evadable via another person's forgiveness, such as a monetary matter (Bava Metzia 30b, Kesubos 40a)
  • What about being makriv a korban with a mum? I thought that in the Bar Kamtza story they should have brought it anyway. Jun 11, 2012 at 18:07
  • @barry what's your source for #3 (The Aveira mustn't be accompanied by another Mitzva)? (and 4 and 5)
    – eliyahu
    May 7, 2017 at 21:22
  • @AdamMosheh: the situation in that story involved mortal danger to the Jewish nation -- namely, incurring the wrath of the Romans -- and as such overrides most prohibitions.
    – Barry
    May 9, 2017 at 0:34

The principle of עשה דוחה לא תעשה tells one how to act when there two conflicting imperatives or obligations from the Torah. For example on one hand the Torah is commanding you to attach wool tzitzit to the four cornered garment. On the other hand the Torah is commanding you not to mix wool and linen. These are two conflicting imperatives that you must reconcile. It is the obligation itself that places you in the situation of conflict. Halacha provides a method of reconciliation. Perhaps it is really reconciling an internal conflict in the system itself.

In the situation of a מצוה הבאה בעבירה it is not two conflicting imperatives that place you in a situation of conflict. The Mitzvah can be done in different manners. You choose to fulfill the mitzvah in a manner that violates one of the prohibitions in the Torah. Parenthetically, even if you feel the violation is the only way to complete the performance, such as a situation where you have no Matzah, Halacha provides a category of Ones Rachmonei Patrei (if it is beyond your control you would be exempt from the performance).

  • 3
    Tzitzis is also something that can be done without sha'atnez, but is allowed to be done anyhow. I believe a major component of עשה דוחה לא תעשה is that it is something in which both the aseh and lo ta'aseh are happening simultaneously, which is not so for מצוה הבאה בעבירה.
    – jake
    Jun 24, 2011 at 7:16
  • Jake is correct; aseh docheh is only when they occur simultaneously.
    – Shalom
    Jun 24, 2011 at 14:03
  • Couldn't the Aveirah and the Mitzvah occur simultaneously as well?
    – RCW
    Jun 24, 2011 at 16:08
  • 4
    @jake, the mitzva couldn't be performed with this garment without trangressing; therefore, it is unavoidable. Tosfos Kesubos ch. 3.
    – Barry
    Jun 24, 2011 at 17:11
  • 1
    This post could be improved with sources edited in.
    – mevaqesh
    May 7, 2017 at 21:53

R' Shimon Shkop (Nedarim, siman 1), if I remember correctly, answers that we use aseh docheh lo saaseh only when it doesn't negatively impact someone else (e.g. stealing).

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