Ends and Means


Dear Rabbi, I think that Machievelli believed that “The end justifies the means.” What does the Torah teach and offer as a possible counter-argument? Thank you!



  1. In life, nothing is as simple as a mere five word statement. Let us analyze the statement.

    Supposing you could save the life of an innocent child (“the end”) and you could do it by lying (“the means”) about his whereabouts to the murderer. In such a case Judaism would definitely say that the end justifies the means.

    However, supposing I could convince someone of the truth of the Torah (“the end”) by lying (“the means”) about what Torah is, then the Torah would say that it is not justified. In this case, the means are a clear and direct contradiction to the end – which is Truth.

    One should examine each case separately, and, indeed, Judaism has ethical and legal guidelines to teach us how to act in cases of questionable means are being considered to justify the accomplishment of any desired end and outcome.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team