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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
How were the Ten Commandments given? Five on one tablet and five on a second tablet. This means that "Do not murder" corresponds to "I am G-d your G-d." What is this analogous to? To a king of flesh and blood who entered a country and put up portraits of himself, and made statues of himself, and minted coins with his image. After a while, the people of the country overturned his portraits, broke his statues and invalidated his coins, thereby reducing the image of the king. So, too, one who sheds blood reduces the image of the King, as it is written (Genesis 9:6): "One who spills a man's blood... for in the image of G-d He made man."
  –Midrash Mechilta
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