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FRUMToronto Articles Parsha Pearls

Devrei Torah relating to the weekly Parsha.

Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Working on our Words
In this week’s Parsha we find the great Mitzvah of “VeLo Sonu Ish Es Amiso” (Vayikra 25:17)...each of you shall not aggrieve his fellow.  Chazal (Bava Metzia 58B) teach that this Pasuk refers specifically to causing pain with words--Ono’as Devorim.  The Mishna and Gemara (ibid.) elaborate on the prohibition against Ono’as Devorim and further details are brought LeHalacha in Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 428, which is dedicated to this topic.

The Power of Words, a sefer  by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita is dedicated to improvement--and mastery--of this crucial Mitzvas Bain Odom LeChaveiro, which so much impacts on our Bain Odom LeMakom, as well.  Indeed, the Pasuk cited above actually continues “VeYoraisa MaiElokecha--and you shall fear Hashem”--for in properly fulfilling this Mitzvah, one demonstrates that he fears Hashem Who sees, knows, and understands our thoughts and actions.  Accordingly, we provide below many salient points gleaned from this wonderful sefer, which are indeed “suitable for framing”--and which certainly should be reviewed from time to time--and especially when you well know that you are about to have a challenging encounter.  We present the points by number, for ease of reference.

1.      The Chazon Ish wrote, “Even if what you say will cause someone pain or discomfort for only a brief moment, it is a violation of this Torah commandment.”
2.    Be aware of what the consequences of what your words will be.  Any time your words will cause someone pain it constitutes Ono’as Devorim.
3.    Some people can suffer again and again for years because of insulting remarks people have made to them.
4.    One of the easiest ways to make enemies is to insult people.
5.    Someone who studies Torah has a greater obligation than others to avoid all forms of Ono’as Devorim.  Failure to do so will cause others to learn from his negative example, and could even cause people to have negative feelings about Torah study in general.
6.    Any statement that disparages the appearance of another person is considered Ono’as Devorim.
7.    It is forbidden to say or do things to scare other people.
8.    The laws of Ono’as Devorim are based in the subjective response of the person you are talking to.  Even if many other people don’t mind a certain statement, if the person you say it to will be distressed, upset, angry or offended, it is forbidden.
9.    Don’t disparage the Torah thoughts of others.  If you want to disagree, do so in a polite manner.
10.    Don’t insult someone for being different from you in personality, thought, background, habits, etc.
11.    It is Ono’as Devorim to say things to a person which would imply that he is not normal.
12.     Needlessly saying things to cause someone worry is Ono’as Devorim.
13.     When you have conflicting interests with someone, master the art of finding peaceful solutions.  Find the basic needs of both parties and try to find ways that the needs of both parties can be met.
14.    Statements made in a sarcastic tone of voice constitute Ono’as Devorim, even though the words themselves might sound Kosher.
15.    Asking people personal questions about matters they would prefer not to discuss causes them discomfort and is Ono’as Devorim.
16.    It is counterproductive to say to someone, “If I told you once, I told you a thousand times...”
17.    Avoid saying, “You don’t understand,” when you are discussing ideas with others.
18.    If you see that a person is very tired or in an especially irritable mood, be very careful with what you say to him.
19.    People who are very perceptive and notice all kinds of details about personality and character of others must be careful to use this gift as a tool to help--not to hurt--others.
20.    It is easy for married couples to cause each other much emotional pain by insulting one another.  Even if two people disagree or are disappointed with each other, they should still speak to each other with respect.
21.    Anger does not give you permission to violate the prohibition against Ono’as Devorim.
22.    Humor at someone else’s expense is Ono’as Devorim.
23.    Accepting other people and their differences is one of the keys to observing this Mitzvah.
24.    When you have internalized the awareness that people are created BeTzelem Elokim--in the image of Hashem--you will experience great respect for each person you encounter.
25.    When you communicate with others, be aware of your goal.  Most insults and derogatory comments are counterproductive and will not help you achieve your goal.
26.    The more difficult it is to refrain from insulting someone, the greater the reward.
27.    Whenever you refrain from saying anything that would be Ono’as Devorim, feel the joy of fulfilling a Mitzvah.
28.    You are what you say.  By transgressing the laws of Ono’as Devorim you are lowering your own spiritual level.
29.    Any time that someone hurts your feelings in some way, view it as a learning experience to teach yourself to be more sensitive to causing others distress with words.
30.    Imagine standing before Hashem after 120 years and being confronted with all of your Ono’as Devorim statements.
31.    “It’s your fault for taking offense.”  If someone will feel pain because of what you say, you have an obligation to avoid saying it and you cannot blame the other person for feeling hurt.
32.    “I hope that this doesn’t offend you, but...”  Starting off with this statement does not render your Ono’as Devorim permissible.
33.    When you want to influence someone to do something, always try to motivate him with an approach that will be based on his needs, wants, and personality.
34.    There are many statements that if said with a smile will not cause a person distress--even though they might if a person were to say the words with a serious expression on his face.
35.    There are always ways of disagreeing with someone that show a basic respect for him even though you disagree with what he said.
36.    The laws of Ono’as Devorim apply even to parents when they speak to their children.
37.    The laws of Ono’as Devorim apply even to small children.  Insulting a young child or frightening him as a joke is forbidden.
38.    If someone is angry, it is an act of kindness to calm him down.  Be careful not to say things that would be Ono’as Devorim to someone who is presently angry.
39.    When you speak to a stranger, you might not be aware of his particular sensitivities and therefore might cause him pain unintentionally.  Note the facial reactions of the people you speak to.
40.    When you see someone insulting another person, have the courage to say something to stop him.
41.    Be willing to make a public commitment to your family and friends that you will be careful with Ono’as Devorim.
42.    Statements that can easily be Ono’as Devorim:
“I heard Lashon Hora bout you”
“Everybody knows”
“Do you remember me?”
“Why aren’t you married yet?”
“You don’t care”
“You don’t understand”
“You should have asked me”
“Talk it into yourself”
“Keep your mouth...”
“Get lost”
“I don’t care”
“So what?!”
“I see that you are nervous”
“I never do that...”

As we all know, the Parsha is reminding us of this Mitzvah this particular week, at this particular point, and even  at this particular juncture in our lives [this is what Hashgacha all about], because it is something for each and every one of us to work on in his own particular way.  Let us each meet the challenge--and fulfill this great Mitzvah in a way that brings us a wonderful Nachas Ruach--which will bring along with it Nachas Ruach to others...and, in a magnificent way, to our Creator as well!

Hakhel MIS

Posted 5/15/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Parsha Pearls | Comments (0)

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