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Chapter 63:1-3
The Laws of Wronging a Colleague

1. Just as it is forbidden to wrong a colleague in trade or commerce, so too, it is forbidden to wrong him through speech, as [Leviticus 25:17] teaches: "A person should not cheat his colleague, and you shall fear G-d." This refers to wronging someone with words.

Wronging someone with words is more serious than wronging someone financially, because the latter can be repaid, while the former cannot. Furthermore, financial loss affects merely one's property, while this affects one's person. A person who cries out to G-d over being wronged through speech will be answered immediately.

In particular, it is necessary to be careful that one does not wrong one's wife in this manner or distress her by speech. Women have a sensitive nature and are prone to cry, even about minor things. G-d takes particular note of tears [as Berochos 32b teaches]: "The gate of tears is never locked."

2. What is meant by wronging someone with words? One should not inquire about the price of an article from a colleague when one has no intention of buying it. If one seeks to purchase grain, one should not tell him, "go to so and so," when he knows that the latter does not have any grain to sell.

To a Baal Teshuvah, one should not say: "Remember your previous deeds." If a person was afflicted with suffering, Heaven forbid, one should not say anything to him which resembles the remark made to Job by his colleagues (Job 4:6-7): "Can you not rely on your fear of G-d"...Please, try to recall, did an innocent man ever perish?" (They addressed him in this fashion only because he had complained against G-d's providence and His attributes.)

If a person asks with regard to an aspect of wisdom, one should not approach a person unfamiliar with the subject and ask him: "What is your opinion of the matter?" The same applies with regard to similar matters which cause emotional aggravation.

3. It is forbidden to call a person who has an uncomplimentary nickname by that name - even though he is already accustomed to being called by it and is no longer embarrassed - if one's intent is to shame him. This is also considered as wronging someone with words.

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