Crime and Punishment in Jewish Law: Essays and Responsa

By Walter Jacob; Moshe Zemer | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Professional Secrecy and an Illegal Act

Contemporary American Reform Responsa ( New York, 1987), 4

Walter Jacob

QUESTION: A lawyer has discovered that a fellow attorney is providing a client with advice which will lead to an illegal act and the possibility of considerable financial loss. The lawyer asking the question has gained this information in a confidential relationship. Should he break that confidence and inform the client in question?

ANSWER: It is clear that privacy and information gained as part of a professional relationship can generally not be divulged ( Lev. 19.16 Yad Hil. Deot 7), yet this prohibition is not absolute. For example, if knowledge of certain medical information might change a marriage, such information should be presented ( Israel Kagan , Hofetz Haym, Hil. Rekhilut 9). The decision is based upon the principal of the "need to know." Such facts must not be given lightly or simply to complete existing information or for any personal gain. If such information would lead to the protection of lives or prevent personal injury and financial loss, it must be divulged in accordance with the Biblical injunction of Leviticus, "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" ( Lev. 19.16). If an individual's life is endangered, immediate action to remove that danger must be undertaken. This was also the interpretation provided for our verse by tradition ( San. 73b; Yad Hil. Rotzeah 1.13 f, 15; 4.16; Hil. San. 2.4, 5, 12; Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 425.10, 426.1). Maimonides considered it necessary to move in this direction in cases of idolatry ( Yad Hil. A. Z. 5.4) and rape ( Yad Hil. Naarah 3.1). This would apply, however, only if the client's life is endangered; that is not the case here.

Maimonides and some others go further through the exegesis of anothe r verse from Leviticus (19.14), "Thou shalt not place a


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Crime and Punishment in Jewish Law: Essays and Responsa


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 142

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?