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CURSING A FELLOW JEW

CURSING A FELLOW JEW

An outline of Bais HaVaad on the Parsha Shiur delivered by: Rav Yitzchak Grossman

“ולא אבה ה’ אלוקיך לשמע אל בלעם ויהפך ה’ אלוקיך לך את הקללה לברכה כי אהבך ה’ אלוקיך”

(דברים כג:ו)

The Torah forbids cursing another, as derived from the specific prohibition to curse a cheresh (see Vayikra 19:14 and Rashi).

  • What exactly is the reason for this prohibition?
    • Rambam (Sefer HaMitzvos) explains that cursing another cultivates bad midos and causes animosity.
    • Sefer HaChinuch notes that Rambam apparently believes that a curse cannot intrinsically cause harm, but Sefer HaChinuch argues that a curse can indeed harm another. He explains that Hashem gave us speech as a heavenly power and that can indeed cause harm to others.
    • Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz (in the Urim V’tumim) agrees with the Rambam that curses have no power. He derives this from the Gemara Makkos that states that those who killed b’shogeg and were exiled might pray for the Kohen Gadol to die so they could go free. Only in that case might their tefilllos be effective since the Kohen gadol was partially responsible for the deaths caused (he should have davened to prevent it), but otherwise, the Gemara declares that such a curse is ineffective.

LIABILITY FOR DAMAGE CAUSED BY A CURSE

According to those that hold that a curse can cause harm, would one who thereby injured another be liable to damages?

  • Halachos Ketanos considered that perhaps he is, and using words to harm another may be equivalent to a maaseh.
  • Mahari Assad agrees as well based on the Midrash that Moshe killed the Egyptian with the Shem Hameforash, and yet the Torah refers to it as “striking.”.
  • Steipler Gaon cites a number of proofs that killing by cursing would be patur, and suggests that this is where one convinces the beis din shel maaleh to punish someone. But when one harnesses the natural powers of a curse itself to harm someone, he would not be chayav.