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07 September 2013 @ 05:03 pm
Is it better to know or not?  
Somewhat prompted by real events that have since been resolved.

So, I was reading a book on Judaism a couple weeks ago, and there was an interesting story in there that really struck me. It was about one of the old rabbis who opined that if people were sinning in ignorance, but have no choice about their actions, it was better to not tell them. The reason being that if the people really can't do anything about it, then telling them what they're doing is wrong won't change their behavior. All it will do is cause unnecessary suffering as the people have to keep doing things they now know are wrong but have no choice.

That's very different from the tack I usually take, which is that it's better to know even if there's nothing you can do about it. But the point about suffering is a good one, I think--what's the benefit to knowledge if it doesn't change anything but just causes more pain? Is it actually worth knowing then? I would have said yes, but I don't know. It's worth thinking about.
 
 
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marianlhmarianlh on September 7th, 2013 11:26 pm (UTC)
Is that a situation that would actually come up very often? Doing something you don't know is bad, but couldn't stop doing if you did? I can't think of any examples off the top of my head.
dorchadasdorchadas on September 8th, 2013 01:30 am (UTC)
Well, I expect it comes up more often in an agricultural society composed of a despised minority group. :p

But it strikes me as more likely to be argued as the basis for other rulings. Looking around, it looks like the original wording was about Shabbat observance, and (translated) says, "Leave the Jewish people alone, and do not rebuke them. It is better that they be unwitting in their halakhic violations and that they not be intentional sinners, for if they are told about these prohibitions they may not listen anyway," which is a bit more limited than the other book I was reading made it out to be.