Israel Forever

For the week ending 10 September 2011 / 10 Elul 5771

The Price of Embarrassment

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

One of the common mistakes made in human relations is the liberty which some people take in embarrassing another on the basis of such action being justified. This is why we are sometimes witnesses to public outbursts of individuals who claim they are shaming another in self-defense.

In this week's Torah portion we find the source for penalizing one who embarrasses another. The scenario is that of the woman seeking to save her husband who publicly shames his opponent. The penalty for this is payment for the shame caused, figuratively described as "cutting off her hand". Since her husband was not in serious danger she had no justification for her action and must therefore pay the price.

Perhaps this scenario was chosen to convey the message because the woman involved could have deluded herself that her action was justified, and the Torah wished to dispel any such illusions about the right to shame others.

The media throughout the world, and unfortunately in Israelas well, thrive on shaming individuals, especially politicians. Restraint shown in this area will certainly help to secure Israel forever.

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