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Are we allowed to wish ill on someone or some organization that is doing harm to others?

Are we allowed to wish ill on someone or some organization that is doing harm to others?


The Talmud tells1 how Rabbi Meir had wicked neighbors who caused him harm and much anguish. He prayed to G‑d to wipe them out. When his wife, Bruria, heard him praying this way, she scolded him. (Rabbi Yeshaya Horowitz writes in his classic Shnei Luchot HaBrit that if your wife scolds you, even if she is wrong, you should listen--otherwise she may not scold you when you really are wrong.)

Bruria said, "King David wrote,2 'May the sins cease from the earth!' Not the sinners, but the sins!"

So Rabbi Meir changed his prayers and in fact, the sinners eventually reformed their ways.

Our purpose on this earth is to heal and repair, not to vanquish and destroy. Yes, there is evil that must be entirely wiped off the face of the universe. Most of our work, however, is in searching out whatever is good, bringing it out of the background and into the foreground.

Furthermore, when we wish ill on someone, there is always a danger that this negative energy might return to us.

The main thing is that our minds should be focused on the light, not the darkness, on those rare but delightful sparks of good and not the mud in which they are buried. Leave the garbage collecting for others--there are plenty of volunteers.

To quote King David once again,3 "Turn away from evil and do good, seek out peace and pursue it."

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman for


Brachot 10a.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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KarenJoyceChayaFradleKleinmanBell Riverside, CA USA August 3, 2016

question, then... So, then why do we go to war? Reply

April Trout September 20, 2008

Proverbs 25:21-22 "If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the LORD will reward you." Reply

Stephen Weinstein Camarillo, CA via November 18, 2007

Exception that proves the rule? Following your line of reasoning, was it wrong in 1944 to pray for the sucess of the soldiers who were sent to kill the Nazis?

As a general rule, praying for anyone to suffer harm is wrong, but there are cases when it is right. Reply

Anonymous toronto, ON September 16, 2007

The thought of a good person helps.
Therefore, if someone is really an enemy, like those who engage in terrorism, it's good to imagine their destruction because when many people do this it has an effect.

Of course there's a time for everything. In general most of one's thoughts should be positive.
But having positive thoughts that such people repent won't work, because there's no good inside of them at all.

But one needs to distinguish between the really evil ones, and those good who are merely enticed towards evil. Reply

Shmuly bklyn, ny September 7, 2007

Tapestry A famous kabbalist once said that in heaven, you see the other side of the tapestry and it all makes sense. If you're looking at the tapestry down here, maybe the back of it -- sure, bullies win. But do you truly know how all the scores are tallied up, or how the Divine makes up its ultimate art work? Reply

Anonymous dallas, Texas August 26, 2007

Psalm 44

5. You are my King, O God; command the salvations of Jacob.
6. With You, we will gore our adversaries; with Your name, we will trample those who rise up against us.

It would appear that from time to time, Israel as a nation, with G-d, must "gore our adversaries". What are the conditions which need be fulfilled in our time to justify Israels again arising against the heathen raging around us and in our midst? Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, NY August 23, 2007

I totally agree with this article! There are 2 people who have hurt me in many painful ways, causing me public embarassment, and in one case finacial ruin, yet I don't wish these people any ill will, I feel that gG-d remembers and sees all, and he wil deal with them as he sees fit. So there is no need for me to look like a bitter person, and venegful person, by wishing bad to them. I am by no means noble in this thought at all, and it takes alot of faith and strenght for me to accept this.
But why should I let these people ruin my life anymore, or have them turn myself into a person who I won't want to be, or like. Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, N.Y. August 22, 2007

Not fighting back while this is a noble righteous way in which the rebbe followed, it doesn't work.
I see even in the religious communities the bullys win. good people finish last because thay don't fight back. Reply

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