May I pray to G-d to punish someone who wronged me?

  1. Question: [Monday, 16th Teves, 5783]

Our upstairs neighbors are a group of dorm students who are causing us to lose our sleep and our sanity. They blast music, stomp the floor, scream, at all hours of the night. We have tried in every way possible to speak with them and they simply don’t care. We have called the police, but it has been to no avail. We are very angry and fed up with them. I was mentioning this to a friend and said “May Hashem punish them for what they are doing.” However, my friend told me that it is forbidden to Daven for another Jew to be punished. Is this true?



It is forbidden for you to pray to Hashem to punish your neighbor unless they will refuse to listen to a Beis Din. Even then, however, it is proper to avoid, and it is certainly not a Chassidic trait to Daven to Hashem to punish someone who hurt you.

Explanation: The Talmud rules in numerous places that it is forbidden for one to pray G-d to punish his friend for an evil that he did to him [i.e. Moser Dino Lashamayim], and if one does so, then he will be punished first. This is learned from Sarah who handed over the judgment of Avraham to Hashem and ended up dying before him. This ruling is recorded by the Rama in the Shulchan Aruch. However, the Rama explains, as rules the Gemara, that this only applies if one is able to take the claim to a Beis Din. If, however, he is not able to bring his case to a Beis Din, then it is permitted for him to cry to G-d about his predicament. However, concludes the Rama, that the Ran rules that even if there is no Beis Din to bring him to, he must first inform the individual that he will pray to G-d about the situation prior to doing so. If, however, he knows that the person will not listen to any Beis Din, then he may pray to Hashem to punish him. This is all according to Halacha, however, the Sefer Chassidim implies that one should never Daven to Hashem to punish his friend as this can backfire on him. In his words “do not punish any Jew, and do not curse him. Rather, one should pray That G-d should help the person repent. One should not hand over the judgment to G-d by saying that my Rock will take vengeance from me, from his hand, and will return evil to those who do evil, as whoever hands over judgment on his friend the attribute of judgment comes before G-d and complains “Master of the world. It is this man who is befitting of Judgment as he is deserving to be punished for such and such.” The general rule is, do not curse any person, as sometimes the curse will return and fall upon the person’s own head or descendants, as so we find regarding all the curses that David cursed Yoav, that they became fulfilled with his own descendants.”

Sources: Rama C.M. 422:1; Bava Kama 93a; Gittin 7a; Brachos 55a; Rosh Hashanah 16b; Ran on Rosh Hashanah ibid; Tosafus Gittin 7a; Ritva Rosh Hashanah 16b; Sefer Chassidim 76; Aruch Hashulchan 422:3 [If Lo Tzayit Dina may pray]; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 29:14; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 231; Yalkut Yosef 280

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