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Nicknames and other Examples of Ona'as Devarim

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May 12, 2011
41 min 16 sec

Venue: Yeshivat Sha'alvim Yeshivat Sha'alvim



Part of weekly shiur at Yeshivat Sha'alvim to overseas students.

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  1. Title: Ona'at devarim
    Author: alan shapiro ,

    Rabbi I listened to you shiur on Ona’at devarim as part of my effort to understand this mitzvah. I have one question dealing with kavana i.e. must I have the intent- on some level- to do harm . I understood you to say yes. Meanwhile I was sent the following Onaas Devarim – Words that HurtbyRabbi Chaim Morgenstern : One transgresses the issur of onaas devarim even if he had no intention of hurting the other’s feelings (Chovas Hashemira in Maalas Hashemira #4). At times, when one hurts another’s feelings, he will rationalize that the other person is too sensitive and should really not have been insulted by such an "innocent" remark. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz proves from Chazal that this is an erroneous assumption. He explains that transgressing a mitzvah bein adam lachaveiro is like a raging fire. Just as a forest fire consumes anything in its path even if lit unintentionally, so too, one is held responsible even for unintentional onaas devarim (Sichos Mussar, p, 328, 447).Thus, before speaking, one must think one step ahead and consider in advance whether his remarks could cause another person any pain.Once, when Rav Moshe Feinstein’s young grandchild was playing with some friends, he saw his grandfather pass by and immediately ran to him. Rav Moshe kissed his grandchild and then also kissed the other children, so as not to hurt their feelings. (Bastion of Faith, p.16)While I have read : “Therefore, only the one who delivers the abuse and Hashem know the true intent of the statement. The passage tells us that we may be able to fool others regarding our intent. ( Rabbi Bernard Fox),for myself I have no confidence that I understand all of my personal motivations – so it is not god and me who understand, but only god who understands. . Therefore I live with the concern of violating this mitzvah and I am most careful. I do not trust my analysis of my own motivations. On the surface your shiur and Rabbi Morgenstern’s article seem to be in conflict – not being wise or learned enough I ask you to please resolve this for me, ThanksAlan Shapiro, Esq.

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