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Sarcasm and Gd


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Av 15, 5779
What does Judaism say on Sarcasm?
ב"ה שלום For the sake of clarity, I have brought the Cambridge dictionary definition of "sarcasm" the use of remarks that clearly mean the opposite of what they say, made in order to hurt someone's feelings..." My purpose in bringing the definition is to clarify, that the end result of sarcasm is to hurt someone's feelings, while being sarcastic is only the means by which to hurt someone's feelings. So to make things short and simple, insulting someone or hurt someone's feelings, comes under the category of "Ona'at Devarim" It is a Torah prohibition as written in Vayikra 25: 17, "You shall not verbally oppress each other" . I have quoted the classic book of Musar "Messilat Yesharim" to express the severity of this prohibition. The translation I used, translates "verbal oppression", the simple meaning is to insult or to hurt someone's feelings. From Messilat Yesharim Chapter 11: Let us now speak on the common sins which arise from interaction with people and being among them such as verbal oppression , shaming, misleading the blind through [bad] advice, tale-bearing, hating, taking revenge, taking oaths, lying and desecrating G-d's Name. For who can say: "I am clean of them. I have become pure from sinning in them"? For their branches are exceedingly numerous and fine so that guarding from them requires great effort. Included in the sin of verbal oppression is shaming one's neighbor by words in private; much more so, shaming him thus in public or doing something to him which causes him to be ashamed in public. As stated in Perek Hazahav (Bava Metzia 58b), "If he has repented, one should not say to him, `Remember your former deeds ...' If he is beset by sickness, one should not say to him as was said to Job by his friends (Job 4:7), `Remember, which clean man is destroyed ... ? ' If donkey-drivers ask grain of him, let him not say to them, `Go to so and so, for he sells grain, ' knowing full well that he never sold grain in his whole life." Our Sages of blessed memory have stated (Bava Metzia 58b), "Verbal oppression is worse than monetary oppression [deceit] ..." This is especially true as regards shaming one in public, for we were explicitly taught (Avoth 3.11), "One who shames his neighbor in public has no share in the World to Come." R. Chisda said (Bava Metzia 59a), "All of the gates of prayer were closed except those through which pass the cries of those who have been oppressed by words." And R. Eleazar said (Ibid.), "The Holy One Blessed be He exacts payment through a messenger for every sin, except that of verbal oppression." Our Sages said (Ibid.), "There are three sins which the curtain does not block out." One of those mentioned is the sin of verbal oppression. Even in the case of the observance of mitzvoth, in relation to which Scripture tells us (Leviticus 19:17), "But you shall rebuke your friend, " our Sages of blessed memory say (Arachin 16b), "i would think that this applies even to the extent of causing his face to change color; therefore, we are told immediately afterwards, `But do not bear a sin because of it.' " All of these statements reveal to us how far the warning against the sin of verbal oppression branches out and All the best
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