More Discussions for this daf
1. Separating Chalah on Yom Tov 2. I'm a bit lost 3. Tosafos regarding Challah
4. Mar'is ha'Ayin 5. Ladders

Jesse Rasowsky asked:

Here is another question in the meantime: What is the reason for the rabbinic decree of Maris Ayin?

Let's take an example. Don't eat soy milk with chicken because onlookers will think that it's real milk, and hence they'll be led to believe that you are eating chicken and milk, which is asur. Is it that we're worried other people will copy your apparent behavior and thus come to eat chicken with real milk? Or is it simply that we don't want you to be subject to suspicion by onlookers, i.e. they shouldn't think you are sinning?

(Uh oh, maybe this is not such a good example, because Maris Ayin is already a d'rabanan, so do we apply a gzerah onto the rabbinical issur of not mixing chicken with milk?)


Jesse Rasowsky, Haifa, Israel

The Kollel replies:

This is an excellent question and, in fact, Rashi in different places in Shas appears to mention both of the possibilities that you suggest.

1. Rashi in Avodah Zarah (12a, DH Kol) explains that Mar'is ha'Ayin refers to an act which is permitted but Chazal prohibited it because the onlooker suspects him of committing an Aveirah.

2. On the other hand, the Gemara in Kerisus (21b) states that if one collects the blood of fish in a vessel, one is not allowed to drink it. Rashi (DH she'Kinso) explains that fish blood can easily be confused with animal blood, and the onlooker will assume that it one is permitted to drink the blood of animals.

3. The Keser Yeshua on Maseches Kerisus points out that Rashi's explanation there differs from the normal interpretation of Maris ha'Ayin. The Keser Yeshua cites as an example the Gemara in Shabbos (65a) which says that if a person falls into water on Shabbos and his clothes became wet, he should not hang them out to dry in a public place. Rashi there (DH Aval) writes that the reason he may not hang them up in a public place is so that people not say that he laundered his clothes on Shabbos. Why, then, does Rashi in Kerisus give a different explanation and write that onlookers might mistakenly assume that one is permitted to eat animal blood?

4. The Keser Yeshua answers that in the case of the fish blood, there are actually two distinct problems: the usual problem of suspicion, and the additional problem that people might imitate the conduct of the person they see eating the fish blood. The reason why we are more concerned about people imitating his behavior with the blood is based on the opinion of Tosfos in Chulin (109a, DH ha'Lev) that blood that was cooked is forbidden only mid'Rabanan. (Tosfos there disagrees with Rashi who maintains that cooked blood is forbidden mid'Oraisa). Since there is an opinion that it is forbidden only mid'Rabanan, it is possible that others will mistakenly think that it is permitted entirely.

5. Hence, it could be that when a prohibition is less severe (such as an Isur d'Rabanan), this is actually a reason to be more stringent with regard to Mar'is ha'Ayin (this is the opposite of the logic you mentioned), because it is more likely that people will come to make a mistake in the case of a less severe prohibition.

6. Finally, it is not so clear that Mar'is ha'Ayin is only mid'Rabanan, as you assume. Moshe Rabeinu told the sons of Gad and Reuven that they should first cross the Yarden and conquer the Land together with their brethren and only afterwards return to their homes, "And you shall be clean from Hash-m and from Yisrael" (Bamidbar 32:22). This verse teaches that a person must conduct himself not only in a way that finds favor in the eyes of Hash-m, but also in a way that finds favor in the eyes of other people. The Mishnah in Shekalim (3:2) learns from here that when the Kohen enters the chamber in the Beis ha'Mikdash where the public funds are kept, he should not wear clothing with pockets or creases, lest people think that he pocketed some of the coins for himself. Since this Halachah is based on a verse in the Torah, it may be that Mar'is ha'Ayin is mid'Oraisa.

Thank you again for a very perceptive and important question.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

Follow-up reply:

I found two more places in Shas where Rashi writes that the reason for Mar'is ha'Ayin is so that people should not come to think that the suspected activity is permitted. On the basis of these two sources, I have made the following modifications to the answer I wrote above.

1. The Mishnah in Chulin (41b) states that if one slaughters a non-sanctified animal outside the Beis ha'Mikdash with intent that it should be a Korban Olah, the Shechitah is invalid. Rashi there (DH l'Shem) writes that an onlooker may assume that the owner was now Makdish the animal and will conclude that one is permitted to slaughter sanctified animals outside the Beis ha'Mikdash. Since the Torha forbids slaughtering sanctified animals outside the Beis ha'Mikdash (Kodshim ba'Chutz; Vayikra 17:3-5), the interpretation I cited above -- that Rashi mentions this reasoning behind Mar'is ha'Ayin (so that onlookers not think that the activity is permitted) only with regard to Isurim d'Rabanan -- is problematic.

2. The Gemara in Menachos (40a) states that one who puts linen strings of Techeles on his woolen garment causes onlookers to think that he is wearing Sha'atnez. The Gemara explains that the onlookers are not aware of the Derashah that teaches that Sha'atnez is permitted for Tzitzis. Rashi there adds that, as a result of this lack of knowledge, the onlookers will say that Sha'atnez is allowed in all garments, not only in Tzitzis. Sha'atnez is an Isur d'Oraisa, and yet Rashi there writes that the concern of Mar'is ha'Ayin is that people may come to think that it is permitted. (See Teshuvos Maharsham 5:46.)

3. Therefore, in light of the above sources, it appears that we must say that in fact both reasons for Mar'is ha'Ayin generally apply simultaneously: there is both a concern that a person might be wrongly suspected, and a concern that people might get the mistaken impression that the activity is permitted. Sometimes Rashi mentions the first reason and sometimes the second, but they are both equally valid.

4. I saw a penetrating insight on this issue in Shevus Yitzchak (by Rav Yitzchak Darzy shlit'a, of Ramot, Yerushalayim), in the volume on "Shehiyah v'Chazarah b'Shabbos" (p. 226). We mentioned above that if one's clothes became soaked on Shabbos, one may not hang them up in public to dry, and Rashi writes that the reason is so that people not say that the person laundered his clothes on Shabbos. However, another reason is given by the Eliyah Rabah (his words on this subject are cited in brief by the Mishneh Berurah OC 301, in Sha'ar ha'Tziyun #204). The Eliyah Rabah writes that the reason why one may not hang his clothes up on Shabbos to dry is a Gezeirah that if one is permitted to hang them up, he may come to wash them. Another major authority, the Ma'amar Mordechai, writes that he is very surprised by the Eliyah Rabah's reason, as the prohibition of Mar'is ha'Ayin is not based on the concern that others will perform the permitted act, but rather it is due to the concern that people will think that somebody already did the act. The Ma'amar Mordechai finds the Eliyah Rabah's reasoning so difficult that he suggests there must be a printing error in the latter's words.

5. Based on the statements of Rashi mentioned above, the Shevus Yitzchak defends the words of the Eliyah Rabah. Part of the prohibition of Mar'is ha'Ayin is also so that people not think that the prohibition does not exist at all. Hence, the reason indeed for why one may not hang up his wet clothing is also because of a Gezeirah that if one does so, he may come to think that the act of laundering itself is permitted. Rashi gives one reason for the prohibition and the Eliyah Rabah gives a different reason, but both are valid.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

M. Deutsch comments:

The way i learn pshat is maras ayin is the following:

People will think you are doing a maaseh issur and therefore are wrong on both fronts .. they will think you are a rosho and will think it is permitted..

HOWEVER, they may only suspect this if they see you do something which is korov l'issur

For example, if you go in to a treifa restaurant (in my shiur in Queens i say McDonalds but in EY im not sure); you may go to the men's room, because all someone will see you do is going to the men's room or buying a coke for the same reason ... People have no right to think just bec you are going to bathroom there or drinking a coke that there is any issur involved and must be done you lkaf zchus.

However, you may not bring your kosher burger into the place and eat cause people may rightfully since it is not so far-fetched to say that you are eating a treifa burger.

L'Aniyas Daati, if you learn the first several simonim in shulchan oruch hilc shabbos this is the only pshat which with you can learn consistently throughout.

kol tuv

Moshe Deutsch

The Kollel replies:

Reb Moshe, thank you for another valuable and interesting comment on this subject.

1. I do not understand what you mean when you say that people will both think that the person they see doing the questionable act is a Rasha and think that the act is permitted. Is this not a contradiction in terms? If they think it is permitted, then why should they think that he is a Rasha for doing something permitted?

2. I also have a question about what you write with regard to entering a non-Kosher restaurant. My question is from the Gemara in Avodah Zarah (12a), where Rebbi Meir states that one may not enter a city where an idol-worship festival is taking place. The Chachamim agree that if the road leads only to that city, one may not go there. This implies that even though not everyone who goes to such a place goes there in order to worship Avodah Zarah, nevertheless the act of entering a city of Avodah Zarah (where one is clearly not using it merely as a transit stop for a different destination) is forbidden. Even though there might be many permitted reasons to enter the city, we say that since the city is specifically dedicated for Avodah Zarah, one may not go there. What is the difference between this case and the case of a non-Kosher restaurant, which is specially dedicated to the consumption of non-Kosher food? Why would one be allowed to go there to use the restroom or to buy a drink?

3. I have a new explanation to answer the apparent contradictions in Rashi that I mentioned in my previous answer. To recap: Rashi in Avodah Zarah (12a, DH Kol) writes that the problem about Mar'is ha'Ayin is that the onlooker suspects him of doing an Aveirah. Similarly, Rashi in Shabbos (65a, DH Aval) writes that if one's clothes become wet on Shabbos, he may not hang them on the washing line, so that people not say that he laundered them on Shabbos. These comments of Rashi suggest that the problem is suspicion. On the other hand, Rashi in Kerisus (21b, DH she'Kinso) writes that one is forbidden to eat fish blood because people will think that one is permitted to eat animal blood. Similarly, Rashi in Menachos (40a, DH Eino) writes that one may not have wool and linen in a Tzitzis garment, even though a Derashah teaches that this is specifically permitted for Tzitzis, because people might err as a result of this practice and conclude that Sha'atnez is always permitted.

4. My suggestion to reconcile these contradictions is that there is a difference between the laws of Shabbos and Avodah Zarah, which are the very foundations of Jewish observance and which everyone is expected to know about, and the laws of eating blood and wearing Sha'atnez. It is possible that people might become confused about blood and Sha'atnez, but they will not become confused about Avodah Zarah and Shabbos. (See Shitah Mekubetzes (printed at the end of Kerisus, page 58, halfway down the first column), who writes that someone who does not know that Avodah Zarah is forbidden is not a Jew. See also Shulchan Aruch OC 386:3 who writes that one who desecrates Shabbos in public is considered like a Nochri.)

5. In conclusion, there are two possible reasons behind the concept of Mar'is ha'Ayin. When it is possible that people may err and say that the practice is permitted, Rashi gives this as a reason. However, in a case where this concern is highly unlikely, Rashi writes that onlookers will suspect that the person doing the act is committing a transgression.

6. I found that Rav Moshe Feinstein zt'l (in Igros Moshe OC 2:40, last paragraph) discusses entering a restaurant which sells forbidden foods, when one's intention is to eat only Kosher items. He writes that even to enter the restaurant to eat items which are known to be permitted is forbidden because of Mar'is ha'Ayin and suspicion.

7. However, he adds that if a person is extremely famished and is in great distress and there is nowhere else to eat, he may enter the restaurant in order to eat items which are known to be permitted. The source for this Heter is the Gemara in Kesuvos (60a) which teaches that in cases of physical distress, the Chachamim did not impose their Gezeiros. Since Mar'is ha'Ayin is an Isur d'Rabanan, one may be lenient under such circumstances. Rav Moshe Feinstein adds that one must enter the restaurant in an inconspicuous way. One also must make sure that no one who knows him is outside the restaurant who might notice him going inside. In a case where he does know people outside, he must tell them that he is in great distress and that this is the only reason why he is entering, and that he will buy there only items which are known to be permitted. He concludes that one who is not in great distress may not enter the restaurant at all.

8. We see that even to enter the restaurant to use the restroom or to get a drink is forbidden (with the exception of cases of great Tza'ar).

9. You mentioned in your question that people have no right to think that the person is doing an Isur when he drinks a coke in the non-Kosher restaurant, and that they must judge him favorably. In fact, the two concepts of Mar'is ha'Ayin and Dan l'Chaf Zechus seem diametrically opposed! I found that the Sedei Chemed discusses this problem (vol. 3, p. 43b, Ma'areches Ches #65). He resolves this difficulty in a practical way. Even though we are obligated to be Dan l'Chaf Zechus, nevertheless in real-life scenarios many people are not. We are concerned that the average person will suspect his fellow-man of doing an Isur. It is only if the permitted aspect of what he is doing is widely known that there is no concern for suspicion. In short, since our world is not an ideal one, we are concerned about "Chashad" even though people really should be Dan l'Chaf Zechus.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

The Kollel writes further:

Here is another way to understand how the two seemingly contradictory concepts of Mar'is ha'Ayin and Dan l'Chaf Zechus can be reconciled.

1. The Rambam (Hilchos De'os 5:7) writes that one of the good traits that a Talmid Chacham should be particular about is to judge everyone l'Chaf Zechus, to give the benefit of the doubt. The fact that the Rambam writes this as one of the qualities of the Talmid Chacham suggests that this is not obligatory on everyone.

2. The Rambam writes something similar in his commentary to Avos (1:6). The Mishnah there states that one should judge everyone l'Chaf Zechus. The Rambam explains that when one does not know the person who performed the questionable action and it is unclear whether his act was a good one or not, it is a pious deed ("Midas Chasidus") to give the benefit of the doubt. Again, it is evident from the Rambam's words that it is not obligatory to Dan l'Chaf Zechus, but it is meritorious to do so. The Bartenura on the Mishnayos also writes that this is a Midas Chasidus.

3. Now we understand why there is a prohibition of Mar'is ha'Ayin on the person who does the action. Since people who do not know him are not obligated by law, but only as a Midas Chasidus, to give the benefit of the doubt, it follows that there may be many onlookers who are observant Jews but who do not do more than is expected of them, but rather only what is required by law. These people might suspect the person, whom they do not know personally, of acting wrongfully. Therefore, the Gemara states that a person must be careful not to do things which may be misinterpreted by people who do not know him.

4. It should be added that the Chafetz Chaim, in the introduction to Sefer Shemiras ha'Lashon (Mitzvos Aseh #3), writes that the abovementioned Halachah -- that one is not obligated mid'Oraisa to give the benefit of the doubt -- applies only applies to someone whom one does not know. If a person who is known to be a "Beinoni," an average person, neither a Tzadik nor a Rasha, does an action which can be judged positively or negatively, one is obligated mid'Oraisa to Dan l'Chaf Zechus.

Dovid Bloom

P.S. I just found yet another way to resolve the seemingly different explanations given by Rashi concerning Maris Ayin, that was given by one of the Gedolim when this question was posed to him.

In fact one can say that the concern about "Chashad" and the concern that people might come to think that the practice that they are witnessing is actually permitted, is actually one and the same thing. The reason we are concerned that people might suspect that someone is performing a forbidden act is ultimately because the end result is that others may in the course of time erroneously come to believe that this action is in fact permitted.

M. Deutsch replies:

I think we are saying the same thing based on the teshuva of reb moshe bec in your last paragraph you mentioned dan lkaf zchus & maras ayin but human nature being what it is .....

obviously if you have a choice to go into a clothing store or mcdonalds to go to the bathroom you should go into the clothing store but if i see you in mcdonalds i cannot immediatley be choshed you unless i see you doing a masseh which could be construed as an issur.

in avoda zorah i think the situation is also different, bec there the whole city is involved ... how would u put it,, the whole city is a cheftza of avodah zara..

so if a store which sold only treifa stuff (no sodas etc) surely would not be permitted, but if you are making a very narrow interpertation of maras ayin then you would be unable to enter a supermarket (such as we have costco here in NY) where they are giving out free samples of treif... which is surely not the case

moshe deutsch

The Kollel replies:

Reb Moshe, thank you again for your important comments on this subject.

1. I want to argue that the Tereifah restaurant is comparable to the Avodah Zarah city and differs from the supermarket which sells some Tereifah products. My contention is that just as you said that the Avodah Zarah city is a "Cheftza" of Avodah Zarah, so, too, the mcdonald's restaurant is a Cheftza of Tereifah. This is because most people who enter a Tereifah restaurant do so in order to eat Tereifah food. Although there is a minority of people who enter a Tereifah restaurant to do permitted activities (like drink a soda), nevertheless it is very likely that people who see someone in a Tereifah restaurant will think that he is eating Tereifah food because that is what most people do there. Therefore, the Jew who enters is transgressing the precept of "You shall be clear of Hash-m and of Yisrael" (Bamidbar 32:22).

2. On the other hand, the average supermarket sells a lot of permitted products and only a minority of forbidden items. This means that it is not reasonable that people should suspect him of bad behavior, and thus he is allowed to enter.

3. Now I would like to present a Chidush. If one enters a Tereifah restaurant, the Mitzvah of "You shall judge your fellow man righteously" (Vayikra 19:15) does not apply. I will explain what I mean.

The Chafetz Chaim writes in the opening to his Sefer (in Mitzvos Aseh #3) that one who speaks Lashon ha'Ra also transgresses "b'Tzedek Tishpot Amitecha". The Chofetz Chaim explains this Mitzvah as follows. If an average person, who is not known to be a Tzadik, but on the other hand is not suspected of transgression serious Aveiros, does an action which could be judged either favorably or unfavorably, there is a Mitzvah d'Oraisa to judge him favorably. However, if this average individual does something which seems more likely to be a transgression, then one should look upon this as a doubtful act. One should not decide in his mind that the person did an Aveirah, but he also does not have to assume that the act was permitted.

I suggest that this applies to someone who enters a Tereifah restaurant. Since it is more likely that this means he was eating Tereifah, there is no longer a Mitzvah to assume that his behavior was permitted. On the other hand, one should not decide that the person was doing a forbidden act until he has more information.

4. However, if the person who did the questionable act is well-known as a Yarei Shamayim, then there is a Mitzvah d'Oraisa to judge him favorably, even if the act apparently leans more towards suspicion. It follows from this that if a Tzadik goes into the Tereifah resaurant, there is a Mitzvah d'Oraisa to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he entered only in order to use the bathroom.

Once again, many thanks for your insights.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom