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Praising a Non Jew

Category: // By Rabbi: הרב עופר עוזרי // Answer date: 13.01.2021

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Question:

The United States elections are coming up soon and I am a big fan and supporter of President Trump. I think his polices have been great for the Jews and I see he really respects religious Jews. I have been campaigning a bit from him and I have been telling everyone who he is such a great and nice person so they should get involved and vote. One of the people I spoke with tole me that it is forbidden to praise him so much because he is not Jewish. How could that if there are Chasidei Umot Haolam?

Answer:

He was half correct. It is forbidden for you to praise him on a personal level he is great person and a great guy. That is a transgressing the prohibition of Lo Techannem, you are not allowed to praise a No Jew. However you are allowed to praise Hashem for his policies and actions and deeds. So you may extol his policies towards Jews and morality etc. and Chasidei Umot Haolam are is called that for their attitude towards Jews.

The Gemara in Avoda Zara 20a says: “You should not show them mercy [Lo Tecḥonnem]” (Deuteronomy 7:2), which is understood as meaning: You should not give them a chance to encamp [Hanayah] in, i.e., to acquire land in, Eretz Yisrael. The Gemara asks: This phrase: “You should not show them mercy”; isn’t it necessary to teach that this is what the Merciful one is saying: You should not give them favor [Cḥen] by praising them?
The Gemara answers: If that were so, let the verse say: Lo Tecḥunnem, with the letter vav, as then it would be evident that this is a form of the root ḥet, vav, nun, which means favor. What is the reason that the verse instead states: Lo Tecḥonnem, without the letter vav? Conclude two conclusions from it, that one may not praise them and also that one may not allow them to acquire land.
The Gemara asks: But still, isn’t the phrase “You should not show them mercy” necessary to teach the halakha that this is what the Merciful One states: You should not give them an undeserved [Hinnam] gift? The Gemara answers: If that were so, let the verse say: Lo Tecḥinnem. What is the reason that it is spelled without the letter yud, as: Lo Tecḥonnem? Learn from it all of these three halakhot…
Here the Gemara understands it is forbidden to give Chen, praise to Non-Jew. It is considered a serious transgression of the Torah. Just as forbidden as selling them land in Eretz Yisrael. The Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah 151:14 rules: It forbidden say who praiseworthy they are to say ,”How handsome or pretty that gentile is or to say praise about his worthy deeds or how great his qualities are.
So you cannot praise a Non-Jew’s qualities. So you may not say President Trump is great. So what are you allowed to say?
The Gemara continues: It is taught in the baraita cited earlier: Another matter: “You should not show them favor”; this teaches that you should not give them favor by praising them. The Gemara notes that this supports the opinion of Rav. As Rav says: It is prohibited for a person to say: How beautiful is this gentile woman!
The Gemara raises an objection from a baraita: There was an incident involving Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, who was on a step on the Temple mount, and he saw a certain gentile woman who was exceptionally beautiful and said: “How great are Your works, Hashem!” (Psalms 104:24). And Rabbi Akiva too, when he saw the wife of the wicked Turnus Rufus he spat, laughed, and cried. He spat, as she was created from a putrid drop; he laughed, as he foresaw that she was destined to convert and he would marry her; he cried, as this beauty would ultimately be consumed by dirt.
And how would Rav explain the incident involving Rabban Gamliel, who praised the beauty of a gentile? The Gemara answers: Rabban Gamliel was giving thanks to G-d for creating such beautiful people rather than praising the gentile herself.
The Gemara say the if you are praising Hashem that he created such a good person or for creating a person with such good manners.
As the Shulchan Aruch there writes: if you praise Hashem for creating someone like that is is permitted.
The Poskim also say that as long as you are praising their actions that that is a good idea or a good policy etc. it is permitted. For example if you a sports player that he is great, it would be a problem. If you say Aruch Hashem he plays sports so well it wud be fine. So to here by the President. If you say Baruch Hashem he knows how to be a great president or that if you call him an Ohev Yisrael it would be fine. A Chasid Umot Haolam is praising a gentile for his relationship with Yisrael.

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