I recall reading a Mishna that disparages one who looks down while walking in public and as a result bumps into obstacles. I believe the commentaries explained (Bartenura?) that his display of display of righteousness (avoiding looking at women?) is considered haughty.

Where is this Mishna? Or is it a figment of my imagination?

Thank you!

  • On the other hand, looking down can also help you avoid obstacles, and is at times expected: הניח את הכד במקום שיש לו רשות להניחה שם כגון מקום הקרנות של גיתות וכיוצא בהן ונתקל בה ושברה חייב ואם הוזק בה המהלך בעל הכד פטור מפני שהיה לו להסתכל (Rambam Hilchot Nizkei Mamon 13:6)
    – Alex
    Jul 24, 2018 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


It's a Mishna in Sota 3:4 where it says:

הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, חָסִיד שׁוֹטֶה, וְרָשָׁע עָרוּם, וְאִשָּׁה פְרוּשָׁה, וּמַכּוֹת פְּרוּשִׁין, הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מְכַלֵּי עוֹלָם

As Sefaria translates:

He [Rabbi Eliezer] would say: A foolish pious man, a cunning evil man, an [excessively] abstinent woman, and the self-flagellations of ascetics, all these destroy the world.

And as you recalled, the Bartenura says:

וּמַכּוֹת פְּרוּשִׁים. שֶׁמַּכֶּה עַצְמוֹ לְהַרְאוֹת שֶׁהוּא עָנָו וְצָנוּעַ, כְּגוֹן שֶׁמְּהַלֵּךְ עָקֵב בְּצַד גֻּדָּל וְאֵינוֹ מֵרִים רַגְלוֹ מִן הָאָרֶץ וּמִתּוֹךְ כָּךְ מְנַקֵּף אֶצְבְּעוֹתָיו בָּאֲבָנִים, וְהוּא שֶׁנִּקְרָא בַּגְּמָרָא פָּרוּשׁ נַקְפִּי. אוֹ מִי שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה עַצְמוֹ כְּעוֹצֵם עֵינָיו שֶׁלֹּא לְהִסְתַּכֵּל בַּנָּשִׁים, וּמִתּוֹךְ כָּךְ מַכֶּה רֹאשׁוֹ בַּכֹּתֶל וְיוֹצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ דָּם, וְהוּא הַנִּקְרָא פָּרוּשׁ קוֹזָאִי, כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁמַּקִּיז דָּם מֵרֹאשׁוֹ מֵחֲמַת פְּרִישׁוּתוֹ‏

  • For further reading Rav Moshe has a teshuva on this topic ,OC 1:40 hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=916&pgnum=100
    – sam
    Jul 24, 2018 at 14:28
  • 3
    Not to diminish from the answer (as OP recalled a Bartenura), though probably worth noting that Bartenura's explanation is taken from the Talmud (Sotah 22b).
    – Oliver
    Jul 24, 2018 at 16:31

As a sidenote to Danny's answer, there is an interesting story with R' Tam and his brother Rashbam, recounted by the Mordechai (Additions to Eiruvin end of 1st perek). The Rashbam being ever so modest, pious and carful would not raise his eyes while walking in the street. Unknowingly the Rashbam ascended a wagon that was harnessed to a horse and donkey (or mule), which Jewish law forbids to ride on (kilayim). Luckily, his brother R' Tam passed by and noticed what was going on and said to his brother in Hebrew,

"אל תהי צדיק הרבה, שא מרום עיניך, והנה סוס ופרד לקראתך"

"Do not be overly pious, raise your eyes to the heavens, behold there is a horse and a mule in front of you."

Apparently the R' Tam mocked his brother for being overly pious by looking down and not being aware of his surroundings, which instead of preventing him from sin almost brought him more trouble than protection.

  • 1
    Would you mind to explain why you edited one of my edits, yet your source states explicitly that Rashbam never ascended?
    – Oliver
    Jul 25, 2018 at 3:18
  • @Oliver frankly I didn't notice that. In any case, I don't think his words are to be taken literally (he wanted to ascend but didn't), the main thing is that he was going to ride in it if not for the intervention of his brother, whether he was going to ascend or he already ascended is not an important detail, since the prohibition is to ride not to ascend.
    – Bach
    Jul 25, 2018 at 13:48
  • 1
    I agree that whether or not he ascended is more peripheral, but once I edited it I don't see the rationale in insisting to narrate the story inaccurately, unless you assumed I sucked that detail out of my thumb and therefore didn't either ask where I got it from. (Besides, why do you think the words aren't meant to be taken?)
    – Oliver
    Jul 25, 2018 at 14:16
  • 1
    "Apparently the R' Tam mocked his brother for being overly pious..." Perhaps "chastised" would be a better word choice. Jul 25, 2018 at 16:10

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