for fear of bodily harm, encouraged ruffians in their thrashing of his fellow, R. Yose, despite the fact that it was the latter’s halakhically correct position which precipitated the ruffians’ actions. Although R. Dustai consciously misrepresented halakha to save himself, the Talmud concludes this account with R. Ahi’s approval of R. Dustai’s behavior, which, as explicitly stated by several rishonim (Meiri, Gittin, 14a, s.v. “Kevar ramaznu”; Tosafot Hakhmei Anglia, Gittin 14b, s.v. “Arda ve-arta”) refers to his words of encouragement as well. A similar story is recounted in Nedarim 22a (see Ran and Rosh ad loc., s.v. “uFra”): the well-traveled amora, Ula, found himself witnessing the murder of one of his traveling companions. Fearing for his own life, Ula not only expressed his approval of the murderous action, but even encouraged the murderer to finish the job! Furthermore, the Talmud records R. Yohanan’s approval of Ula’s action in light of the potential danger to Ula’s own life, despite the fact that Ula clearly misrepresented Jewish law in implying that this heinous crime is permissible. Indeed, Tosafot, Sota 41b, s.v. “Kol ha-ma-hanif,” and other posekim, cited in Part 2 of the Addendum section of this paper, refer to the story of Ula as evidence that one may misrepresent Jewish law in times of danger. (See also Tiferet Yisrael, Pe’a 1:1, Boaz note a.) All this presumably contravenes the view of Maharshal that martyrdom is called for where ziyyuf haTorah may result. As noted in the text, R. Feinstein limits the prohibition to explicit—not implicit—changes in Jewish law.
132.It is significant that R. Feinstein’s distinction between explicit and implicit misrepresentation finds precedent in a related law of martyrdom. Jews are bidden to martyr themselves rather than deny their Jewishness or declare themselves idolaters, for this is equivalent to denying God (ke-kofer beElokei Yisrael). Nevertheless, double entendres are permitted. Thus, the Talmud (Nedarim 62b) permits one to declare that he is a “fire worshipper” since God is referred to as “a consuming fire” (Deut. 9:3). This is permissible even if the only purpose is to save oneself from a discriminatory tax. See Shulkhan Arukh, Y.D., sec. 157, no. 2 and Kenesset haGedola, s.v. “Assur le-adam”; Beit Lehem Yehuda, s.v. “Lashon de-mi-shtamei’a”; and Pit’hei Teshuva (n.18) ad loc. It is noteworthy, however, that misrepresentation, even by implication, which involves flattering or encouraging the halakhically forbidden action of a wicked individual (as in the cases of Ula, R. Dustai or Agrippas, mentioned in note 131 and Addendum section of this paper, Part 2) is still forbidden because of hanufa (as discussed in Addendum, Part 2); however, this does not require martyrdom. See, though, R. Judah David Bleich, supra, note 123 and Addendum, Part 3o.