a stumbling block

stumbling block

A challenge or hindrance that prevents something from being accomplished. Stay away from your old friends—their drug use will be a stumbling block in your recovery from alcoholism. We're trying to sell the house, but its undesirable location has proved to be a real stumbling block.
See also: block, stumble
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a stumbling block

COMMON If you describe something as a stumbling block, you mean it is a problem which stops you from achieving something. It's her attitude that's the biggest stumbling block. Cost is a major stumbling block in the hunt for a vaccine. Note: This expression comes from the Bible: `...that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.' (Romans 14:13)
See also: block, stumble
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

stumbling block, a

An obstacle; a hindrance to progress or understanding. Originally this expression literally signified an object over which one tripped. It so appears in the Bible: “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:13). In the course of time it began to be used figuratively as well, and in the twentieth century it was turned into a maxim: “Let us turn stumbling-blocks into stepping-stones” (John R. Mott, ca. 1925).
See also: stumble
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in classic literature ?
Itentionally he recalled all those doctrines of the church which had always seemed most strange and had always been a stumbling block to him.
That would be very romantic, but one would have to be very good to be a missionary, and that would be a stumbling block. We have physical culture exercises every day, too.
At 120 Euros ($170) a stumbling block, Demnig's business is booming.
However the club's pounds 100m debt was a stumbling block. Sullivan hoped to restructure some of what is owed, but seven banks owed a total of pounds 45m are unwilling to budge.
you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind; and you shall fear your G-d (Leviticus 19:14).
In his commentary on Rashi's commentary, the Maharal notes that the verse "You shall not place a stumbling block" concludes with "you shall fear your G-d," a phrase commonly used in the context of commandments in which only the transgressor and no one else knows that he or she has sinned.
In his commentary on the Torah, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch details actions that fall into the category of placing a stumbling block:
Scripture states, "and before a blind person you shall not place a stumbling block." The person who gives a cup of wine to someone who has taken a Torah oath not to drink wine, without forcing nor explicitly persuading him to drink it, brings the Nazarite physically close to transgressing his vows.
Thus, we have a third example of a stumbling block: the provision of an object or situation that can lead a person to succumb to moral, physical, or financial harm.
you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind.'" By striking an older child liable to verbally or physically retaliate, the parent creates a situation in which his child may violate the biblical prohibitions of hitting and cursing his parents.
Thus we have a fourth example of a stumbling block: Creating or placing a person in a situation where he or she will lose control and will sin impulsively because of emotional vulnerability.
In 1 Corinthians Paul agrees that Christians can eat what they like, not worrying if their food has been offered to "idols." Still, he warns his readers to "take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak" and reminds them that "when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ" (1 Cor.
We might follow the same rule when it comes to state-sponsored gambling, giving up our own freedom to enjoy and profit from this lucrative entertainment lest it become a stumbling block and a millstone to millions of our weak neighbors.