Across the street from the shul in Woodridge, NY, there is this sign

Rabbi's Parking Spot

Is someone allowed to place such a "threatening" sign if he will not carry out the penalty, anyway? In this case, I think that most people reading the sign will find it humorous and know that this will not be the penalty. But, what if a sign says, "No parking, violators will have the car towed," and the property owner never tows a car?

Is that a case of lying since you're threatening action that you don't plan on carrying out? What about some form of deception (geneivat da'at)? Does it matter if the reader sees humor or assumes lack of enforcement, as in the first sign, or if he assumes that it will be enforced but sees that it isn't?

  • 1
    Is that a case of lifnei iver What does this possibly have to do with lifnei iver? What do you think lifnei iver is that would make you suspect this is included? Consider improving the question with this clarification.
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 4 '17 at 14:57
  • @mevaqesh possibly b/c it leads people to think that the penalty will occur when it actually doesn't. Maybe that's not specifically lifnei iver but is a different category? I could use a suggestion.
    – DanF
    Oct 4 '17 at 15:02
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    Maybe genevas da'as. By analogy, the FDCPA prohibits such conduct in the debt collection context. Not that Federal law has anything to do with halacha.
    – Dov F
    Oct 4 '17 at 15:09
  • This question shows no research effort as you did nothing to research lifnei iver to give you any reason to think this is included. This is particularly important with these sorts of questions, since everything is permitted unless is it forbidden. Thus, the only way to prove something is permitted is to survey every possible prohibition and determine whether any apply; a prohibitive task for an answer.
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 4 '17 at 15:15
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    My assumption in the humorous sign is that the first part is serious (I.e. the space is reserved for the rabbi and others shouldn’t park there) while the second part is humorous. Is the other case also one where you intend people not to park there but not really to tow them? Maybe a better analogy would be “violators will be towed to Mars” or somewhere else far away that car won’t really be towed. Dec 6 '19 at 20:58

I think one problem you might be having is that you do not define the term "threaten" accurately. In my mind, giving a devar torah on shabbat would be an honor, not a punishment.

I think that the sign is a manifestation of a sense of humor. It's Sukkot, a joyous holiday. Lighten up!

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya. You may have missed the focus of my question. I gave two examples, one humorous and one not. My question was focused on the general scenario. Perhaps, the term "threaten" may not be the best term. But, my question asks if one is allowed to "say" (or write) a penalty on a sign when he has no plans to deliver the penalty. BTW, delivering a D'var Torah can be quite severe punishment if the deliver is insufficiently educated or is a poor speech deliverer. It can be immensely embarrassing to look foolish in public.
    – DanF
    Oct 8 '17 at 1:51
  • Regardless on the definitions he uses, the focus of the question still remains: is such a sign, in which one claims he will retaliate in some fashion against the perpetrator of some action, an issue of geneivas da’as, falsehood, or any other issue you can think of? -1.
    – DonielF
    Oct 8 '17 at 3:21

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