The Jewish Week is always here for you.
We need your support now.
Your contribution will help us bring you vital news
and frequent updates about the impact of COVID-19.
Equating Humiliation And Murder

Equating Humiliation And Murder

It’s tough when you have to disagree with things your kids are taught at school. But I have always objected to hyperbolic analogies, and at yeshivas they are sometimes in plentiful supply. One example is that many rabbis tell their students that humiliating someone is the same as killing him or her.
The problem with such a comparison is not only that it sets kids up for anguish if they embarrass someone by accident, or do so intentionally and reflect on it later in life from a more mature perspective, but also that it trivializes murder since there is no worse act than the taking of a human life.
For a perspective on this, I recently had a conversation with a rabbi I respect based on his lecture on a similar topic. When discussing matters of death, killing and halacha, he noted that according to the Talmud a kohen who commits murder, as opposed to one who kills in the course of warfare, is forbidden from carrying out his duty of the priestly blessing, or duchening, for the rest of his life.
But a kohen who is found guilty of Lashon Hara, spiteful gossip, does not forfeit his right to participate in duchening.
Surely it’s possible to denounce the deliberate defamation of another person in strong terms without comparing it to murder. Isn’t the above distinction proof enough that the analogy doesn’t hold?
read more: