Humiliation with Words – Bava Kamma 91


The Gemora stated: If someone spat at his friend and the spittle hit him, or he removed the hair covering of a woman or his friend’s cloak, he is required to pay him/her four hundred zuz. Rav Papa taught: This is only if the spittle reached his friend, but if it only hit his clothes, he is exempt from paying this fine.


The Gemora asks: Shouldn’t the perpetrator be liable similar to one who humiliates his fellow with words? The Gemora answers: It is evident from here that one who embarrasses his fellow with words is exempt from any liability.


The Rosh cites Rav Shrira Gaon: Although it seems from the Scriptural verses that one is not liable for humiliating his fellow with words, nevertheless, the Sages would excommunicate him until he appeases his fellow properly according to his honor. He notes that it is logical to assume that there is a higher degree of embarrassment for one who is humiliated with words more than one, who was embarrassed through a wound, for there is nothing worse than slandering one’s fellow.


The Rambam (Hilchos Chovel 5:7) rules that one who admits in Beis Din that he wounded his fellow privately, he will be liable to pay for the embarrassment, for even though the victim was not humiliated at the time of the wounding, he was humiliated at the time of the admission in Beis Din.


The Minchas Chinuch (49:7) asks: Isn’t this a classical case of embarrassing one’s fellow with words, and one is not liable for such humiliation?