Dear Rachel,

One of the managers I work for in my company lambasted me in front of my boss and my colleagues for a mistake I made. He attacked me verbally, saying things that were vicious and untrue. To make it worse, nobody stopped him. I was very upset! Later, I wanted him to apologize to me, but he wouldn’t.

I’m feeling angry and powerless. What can I do?

Please help me,

Dissatisfied


Dear Dissatisfied,

The situation you describe is certainly uncomfortable and unfair. I was very upset!There is no excuse for bullying or embarrassing another person. The Talmud equates publicly humiliating someone to murder,1 so you are in the right to feel violated. And he is wrong to have misused his position as your superior. I believe we should all have a no-tolerance policy for verbally or physically attacking someone in a weaker or subordinate position. It has lifelong ramifications for both the victim and the bully, both emotionally and spiritually.

You write, “To make it worse, nobody stopped him.” The Torah tells us we are not supposed to “stand by our neighbor’s blood.” No one is allowed to stand by and watch someone else be hurt or embarrassed.2 There is no excuse for bullying or embarrassing another personMany children (and adults) who are bullied suffer a double blow: First, the attack (physical or verbal) by the aggressor; and second, not being protected by parents, teachers or other people in authority, and in this instance, your boss. This can leave a deep scar and undermine trust and security.

Remember that even if you feel no one else is protecting you, you can be sure that G‑d is, and He records every incident, what everyone says and what everyone does. And He is the true Judge.

You ask what you should do. Here’s what you can’t do:

1. You can’t force someone to apologize to you. While I commend you for trying to facilitate a peaceful resolution, an apology has to be given fullheartedly by the person who hurt you. The only person you can control is yourself.

2. You can’t take revenge. While Judaism certainly allows you to protect yourself, justice must be pursued justly, and Jewish law prohibits taking revenge.3 G‑d doesn’t want us compromising our own behavior because someone else has chosen to behave wrongly. We are supposed to emulate the people who are on a spiritually higher level, not the other way around.

3. You can’t hold a grudge. It is in your best interest to forgive your manager and move on, especially if you have to work with him on a daily basis. He obviously has some spiritual work to do, and you can’t do it for him. And like many people who bully others, he may be suffering from stressors that you don’t know of. Holding onto the resentment will only cause the poison to remain inside you. And G‑d judges you the way you judge others, so if you want G‑d’s forgiveness, you also must forgive.

So, what can you do? The Talmud tell us that one who does not respond to insults or humiliation, and instead remains quiet, will be rewarded in the world to come.4

Judaism does not have a turn-the-other-cheek policy. However, if you have no better alternative, stoically accepting suffering atones for one’s sins, builds character, and has tremendous power in the spiritual realm.Judaism puts tremendous emphasis on integrity

If this behavior continues, speak to your boss about the possibility of having less contact with this particular manager. If that is not possible, try to be polite but as distant as possible, while being careful not to do an inferior job. Judaism puts tremendous emphasis on integrity.

Use this experience to help remind yourself to be more patient and respectful of others and, if you’re in a position to do so, to protect others who are vulnerable from unfair treatment.

Wishing you a pleasant and harmonious working environment.

Rachel