1

Just as it is forbidden to deceive a person by [dishonest] buying and selling, so is it forbidden to deceive a person with words, as it is said: "And you shall not deceive one another, but you shall fear your God."1 This refers to "deception done by means of words." The sin of deceiving someone with words is greater than deceiving him in money matters, because [misappropriated funds] can be returned but no amends can be made for pain inflicted with [hurtful] words. [Monetary deception] only affects [the victim's] finances, whereas [hurtful or insulting remarks] are aimed at his person. Anyone who cries [to God] because of wrong done to him with words is answered immediately. A person must be particularly careful not to hurt his wife's feelings and not to cause her pain with [harsh] words, for a woman is sensitive by nature, and even a slight hurt will bring tears to her eyes. And God, blessed be He, pays heed to tears, for the gates of tears are never closed.2

א

כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאוֹנָאָה אֲסוּרָה בְּמִקָּח וּמִמְכָּר, כָּךְ אֲסוּרָה אוֹנָאָה בִּדְבָרִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְלֹא תוֹנוּ אִישׁ אֶת עֲמִיתוֹ וְיָרֵאתָ מֵאֱלֹהֶיךָ, זוֹ אוֹנָאַת דְּבָרִים. וּגְדוֹלָה אוֹנָאַת דְּבָרִים מֵאוֹנָאַת מָמוֹן, שֶׁזֶה נִתָּן לְהִשָּׁבוֹן וְזֶה לֹא נִתָּן לְהִשָּׁבוֹן, זֶה בְּמָמוֹנוֹ וְזֶה בְּגוּפוֹ. וְהַצּוֹעֵק עַל אוֹנָאַת דְּבָרִים, נַעֲנָה מִיָּד. וְצָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר בְּיוֹתֵר מֵאוֹנָאַת אִשְׁתּוֹ, שֶׁלֹּא לְצַעֲרָהּ בִּדְבָרִים, לְפִי שֶׁהָאִשָּׁה רַכָּה בַּטֶּבַע, וְעַל צַעַר מְעַט הִיא בּוֹכָה, וְהַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרַךְ מַקְפִּיד עַל הַדְּמָעוֹת, וְשַׁעֲרֵי דְּמָעוֹת לֹא נִנְעֲלוּ.

2

What is meant by hurting someone with words? A person should not say to someone: "For how much will you sell this article?" when he has no intention of buying it. To someone who wishes to buy grain, he should not say: "Go to so and so," knowing full well that this person has [no grain] to sell. If his neighbor is a ba'al teshuvah, he should not say to him: "Remember what you used to do in the past." If his friend has to endure great suffering, God forbid, he should not speak to him like Iyov's friends spoke to Iyov, [who said]:3 "Is not your fear of God your confidence?… Remember, I pray you, who ever perished being innocent?" (They spoke to him this way because he rebelled against Divine Providence and God's Attributes [of Justice]). If someone is asked a scholarly question, he should not say to a person who is not knowledgeable in this field: "How would you answer this question?" The same applies to all similar situations which would cause heartache [to others].

ב

כֵּיצַד הוּא אוֹנָאַת דְּבָרִים. לֹא יֹאמַר לַחֲבֵרוֹ, בְּכַמָּה אַתָּה רוֹצֶה לִתֵּן חֵפֶץ זֶה, וְהוּא אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לִקְנֹתוֹ. הָיָה אֶחָד מְבַקֵּשׁ לִקְנֹת תְּבוּאָה, לֹא יֹאמַר לוֹ, לֵךְ אֵצֶל פְּלוֹנִי, וְהוּא יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁאֵין לוֹ לִמְכֹּר. אִם הָיָה חֲבֵרוֹ בַּעַל תְּשׁוּבָה לֹא יֹאמַר לוֹ, זְכוֹר מַעֲשֶׂיךָ הָרִאשׁוֹנִים. אִם בָּאוּ יִסּוּרִים עַל חֲבֵרוֹ, רַחְמָנָא לִצְלָן, לֹא יֹאמַר לוֹ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁאָמְרוּ חַבְרֵי אִיּוֹב לְאִיּוֹב, הֲלֹא יִרְאָתְךָ כִּסְלָתֶךָ וְגוֹ', זְכֹר נָא מִי הוּא נָקִי אָבָד, (וְהֵם שֶׁאָמְרוּ לוֹ כֵּן, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיָה מְעַוֵּת דְּבָרִים כְּלַפֵּי הַשְׁגָּחַת הַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרַךְ וּמִדּוֹתָיו). אִם שָׁאֲלוּ מֵאִתּוֹ אֵיזֶה דְּבַר חָכְמָה, לֹא יֹאמַר לְמִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ אוֹתָהּ חָכְמָה, מָה אַתָּה תָּשִׁיב בַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ שֶׁהֵם צַעַר הַלֵּב.

3

If a man has a humiliating nickname, although he is used to being called by that name and is not embarassed by it, yet, if someone has the intention of humiliating him, he may not call him by this nickname, because this means hurting him with words.

ג

מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ שֵׁם כִּנּוּי לִגְנַאי, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא רָגִיל בְּאוֹתוֹ כִּנּוּי, וְאֵינוֹ מִתְבַּיֵּשׁ בּוֹ, אִם זֶה כַּוָּנָתוֹ לְבַיְשׁוֹ, אָסוּר לִקְרֹתוֹ בְּכִנּוּי זֶה, מִשּׁוּם אוֹנָאַת דְּבָרִים.

4

It is forbidden to mislead anyone (meaning, to deceive anyone, even though no monetary loss results), even if he is a non-Jew. Thus, it is forbidden to sell to him non-kosher meat under the false pretense that it is kosher. If someone sells an article that has an imperfection, even though the article is worth the price for which he sells it, nevertheless, he must inform the buyer of the imperfection. (In the case of a gift, however, the questions of deception does not exist.)

ד

אָסוּר לִגְנֹב דַּעַת הַבְּרִיּוֹת (פֵּרוּשׁ לְרַמּוֹת בִּדְבָרִים, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ חֶסְרוֹן מָמוֹן), אֲפִלּוּ דַּעַת עוֹבֵד כּוֹכָבִים. וְלָכֵן אָסוּר לִמְכֹּר לוֹ בְּשַׂר נְבֵלָה בְּחֶזְקַת שְׁחוּטָה. אִם מוֹכֵר אֵיזֶה דָּבָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ מוּם, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַדָּבָר שָׁוֶה כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא מוֹכְרוֹ לוֹ, מִכָּל מָקוֹם צָרִיךְ לְהוֹדִיעַ לְהַלּוֹקֵחַ אֶת הַמּוּם (וְעַיֵּן לְקַמָּן סִימָן קפ"ב סָעִיף ד') (וּבְמַתָּנָה לֵכָּא מִשּׁוּם גְּנֵבַת דַּעַת).

5

You should not invite anyone for a meal, when you know that he will not accept. You should not offer someone a gift, when you are sure that he will not accept it. And so it is in all similar cases, where a person says one thing but in his heart he does not mean it, as when he pretends to show respect to someone, but this does not reflect his true feelings, [such conduct] is forbidden. Your mouth and your heart should always be in perfect agreement.

ה

לֹא יְבַקֵּשׁ מֵחֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁיֹּאכַל אֶצְלוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁלֹּא יֹאכֵל. לֹא יִתֵּן לוֹ מַתָּנָה כְּשֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁלֹּא יְקַבֵּל, וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה, שֶׁהוּא אֶחָד בַּפֶּה וְאֶחָד בַּלֵּב, יַרְאֶה לַחֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁהוּא מְכַבְּדוֹ, וְאֵין כַּוָּנָתוֹ שְׁלֵמָה, אָסוּר, אֶלָּא יְהֵא תָּמִיד פִּיו וְלִבּוֹ שָׁוִים, וְיִנְהַג בִּשְׂפַת אֱמֶת וְרוּחַ נָכוֹן וְלֵב טָהוֹר.