Embarrassing Others

From Halachipedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
  1. One who embarrasses another Jew in public loses his share in the world to come.[1]

= Source of Prohibition =

David There are two possible prohibitions that one violates when he or she embarrasses another. First, the Torah prohibits oppressing another [2]. The Mishnah Bava Metzia [3] extends this prohibition to oppressing another with words as well as with money. This prohibition forbids several different ways of oppressing with words. When one embarrasses another, he or she is in violation of the prohibition of “A man may not oppress his fellow [4]. Second, there is a specific prohibition not to embarrass that is derived from the Mitzvah of rebuking others. The Torah commands “You shall surely rebuke your friend[5].” However, the end of the verse: “and you shall not bear iniquity because of him” warns us not to allow the fulfillment of this commandment to simultaneously cause a transgression of humiliating another. The prohibition against embarrassing in this specific case creates a general prohibition against embarrassing another in any situation [6]. In addition to violating the above prohibitions, anyone who embrasses another is also failing to fulfil the Mitzvah of V’ahavta L’reach Kamocha [7].

= Atoning for Embarrassment =

In order to achieve full repentance for sinning, one must undergo a complex process of asking for forgiveness. The steps of the process includeCite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag. This seems to imply that the punishment is final with no chance for Teshuva.

  1. However, Tosafot explain that the Gemara is only talking about if you didn’t do Teshuva, because Teshuva helps for everything. [8]
  2. The Midrash, on the other hand, says that embarrassing one in public cannot be absolved by Teshuva [9].
  3. Rabbeinu Yonah explains that the reason we say you are condemned to Hell for eternity is not because Teshuva does not work if you do it, but it’s because it’s highly unlikely that one would actually do Teshuva for embarrassing someone. The reason being that we often rationalize embarrassing others, or we simply fail to acknowledge the damage it causes. [10]

While the steps enumerated above are the standard steps of completing Teshuva, there are specific steps required to atone for embarrassment:

  1. You must try to appease your friend at an opportune time, or until he agrees to listen to you. You must then feel you friend’s pain in your heart and resolve not to embarrass others. Finally, if one embarrasses you in the future, you should not feel upset, rather you should view it as fair. [11]
  2. One should give gifts to the person they oppressed as a means of making amends. One should give Mishloach Manot to the person on Purim, or confront them before Yom Kippur when they’re more likely to listen. One may also have friends help him lay the groundwork for his apology. [12]
  3. “If the humiliation took place in the presence of others, make your apology in their presence, as well as in private. Otherwise the victim has the right to say, “You shamed me in front of others, and now you want to apologize in private. Bring me all the people who heard you embarrass me, and then I will accept your apology.” [13]


  1. Bava Metsia 58b, Sanhedrin 107a, Rambam (Deot 6:8, Teshuva 3:14)
  2. VaYikra 25:17
  3. Bava metzia 58b
  4. VaYikra 25:17
  5. Vayikra 19:17.
  6. Sefer HaChinuch 240 based on Sifra
  7. Vayikra 19:18.
  8. Bava Metiza 58b
  9. Otzar HaMidrashim pg. 505
  10. Shaarei Teshuva 3:141
  11. Sefer Chassidim 54
  12. Reuven, Rabbi Nitzan Kitzur Hilchot Smirat HaLashon
  13. Yalkout Shimoni, Hosea 14