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Daily Mitzvah

Negative Commandment 251

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Negative Commandment 251 (Digest)
Hurtful Words

"You shall not wrong one another and you shall fear your G‑d"Leviticus 25:17.

It is forbidden to verbally distress or humiliate another.

Examples:

  • If a person has sinned in his youth and then repented, one may not tell him, "Thank G‑d who has taken you away from that path to this good path!" or similar indirect references to his earlier faults that may cause him pain.
  • [If a person is suffering from illness, one may not say (as Job's friends did), "Has anyone perished who was totally innocent?"
  • If you see people who seek to purchase grain, do not tell them that they can obtain it by a certain person, who in reality has nothing to sell.
  • Do not enter a store and ask, "How much does this item cost?" when you have no intention to make a purchase.]

Our Sages taught that hurtful words are, in fact, a graver sin than defrauding another of money.

Translation of (the unabridged text of) Sefer Hamitzvot by Rabbi Berel Bell, member of the Rabbinical Court of Montreal and director of Teacher Training for the Jewish Learning Institute.

From "Sefer Hamitzvot in English," published by Sichos in English.
Daily Quote
"I will make your progeny like the dust of the earth" (G-d's blessing to Abraham, Genesis 13:17). Just as the dust of the earth is from one end of the world to the other, so, too, will your children be scattered from one end of the world to the other. Just as dust is treaded upon by all, so, too, your children are destined to be treaded upon by the nations. Just as the dust of the earth is made fertile only with water, so, too, the people of Israel are blessed only in the merit of the Torah which is analogous to water. Just as dust erodes all metal utensils while it itself lasts forever, so is it with Israel: all idolatrous nations disintegrate, while they persist.
  –Midrash Rabbah
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