(m) For additional examples and discussion, see Resp. Yabia Omer, O.H. I, sec. 28, nos. 5,6; I, sec. 39, no. 12 ff.; and V, sec. 43.
Part 2: The Prohibition of Hanufa—Sycophantic Misrepresentation of Jewish Law.
Related to the issue of misrepresentation in halakha (text at note 123) is the general prohibition of hanufa (alternatively referred to as hanifa)—currying favor by flattering a wicked individual or his/her halakhically improper actions. Mishna Sota 7:8 (41a) recounts that King Agrippas was publicly encouraged by his Jewish subjects to continue as king despite his non-Jewish lineage. The Talmud criticizes their behavior by stating that for such sycophancy, they were worthy of destruction. Tosafot, Sota 41a, s.v. “Kol ha-ma-hanif,” argues that they were worthy of punishment not because they misrepresented halakha, for that (based on the incident of Ula, note 131) is permitted in cases of mortal danger—but because there was no compelling reason for them to say anything at all! Many other posekim, rishonim and aharonim, agree with the above Tosafot and permit hanufa in cases of danger. See Yerei’im haShalem, 248 ; Magen Avraham and Pit’hei Olam uMatamei haShulhan, O.H., end of sec. 196; Shulhan Arukh haRav, O.H. sec. 196, no. 18, Mishna Berura, O.H., end of sec. 196; Yad haKetana (unknown aharon), Hilkhot De’ot, sec. 10, nos. 13 and 14, Minhat Ani, notes 15 and 16.
The above posekim clearly take issue with Rabbeinu Jonah Gerondi, Sha’arei Teshuva, Gate III, secs. 187-188, who derives from the asperity of the Talmud’s censure (Sota 41b) that one is forbidden to praise non-halakhic actions even if it means placing oneself in “danger” (generally understood to mean “mortal danger”). Furthermore, in light of the incident of Ula (note 131), several later authorities who cite R. Jonah or agree with his position feel it necessary to make several important distinctions which have the effect of attenuating R. Jonah’s ruling: 1) In Menorat haMa’or, ner 2, kelal 3, helek 1, perakim 1 and 2, secs. 44 and 45, R. Isaac Abuhav permits praising a wicked individual in a life-and-death situation, provided he does not justify his wicked actions. 2) Others go one step further and differentiate between public approbation of wicked actions, which is forbidden even in life-threatening situations, and private hanufa. See Orhot Tsadikim (unknown rishon), Gate 24, Sha’ar haHanifot, helek 1 (this section is a restatement of Sha’arei Teshuva, ibid.); Yad haKetana, Hil. De’ot, sec. 10, no. 14 and Minhat Ani, note 16; R. Moses Bezalel Sinai, Torat haKena’ot, Sota 41b, s.v. “Kol ha-ma-hanif”; R. Hayyim Judah Segal Deutsch, commentary to Sefer Hareidim, Lo ta’ase min haTorah ha-teluyyot ba-pe ba-kane ve-efshar le-shamran