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In the Jewish tradition flattery as a real vice applies only to any attempt to win the favour of a wrongdoer by justifying his evil deeds or by lauding him and paying him respect. The medieval authors refer especially in this connection to the verse: ‘But what I see in the prophets of Jerusalem is something horrifying: adultery and false dealing. They encourage evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness’ (Jeremiah 23: 14). It is the encouragement of wrongdoing that is chiefly condemned. Insincere praise of a neighbour or praising a neighbour for virtues he does not possess or simply ‘buttering him up’ is not forbidden by the strict letter of the law. Nevertheless the moralists frown on such activities as well, but much depends in this grey area on the aim and purpose of the flattery and on its social effects.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.

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