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In the Talmud, Rabbi Elazar meets an "ugly" man and insults him: "Worthless person, how ugly you are! Are all the people of your city as ugly as you?" He quickly apologizes and asks for forgiveness. The town people urge him to forgive. He says to them: "For your sakes I forgive him, provided that he does not become accustomed to act that way." [Taanit 20a-b]

The Maharsha adds: We expected the man to say: "I forgive you provided that you don't behave like that again!". Instead he said: "I forgive you provided that you do not become accustomed to act that way.” The word "accustomed" indicates that such behavior is sometimes acceptable. [Chidushei Agadot]

Question: Under what conditions is such behavior "acceptable"?

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  • We could continue the question (even after the first very good answer), why did R' Elazar think that it was acceptable in the first place? – Mordechai Dec 10 '20 at 23:05
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It is never permissible to disrespect people because they are ugly

The Marsha is asking as a question that the word "accustomed" indicates that such behavior is sometimes acceptable. Why didn't the person did not tell him to never do it again? He continues and answers

דה"ק ובלבד שלא יהא עושה דבר המרגיל אותו לעשות כן דהיינו שלא
יהא דעתו גסה שהוא מרגילו לעשות כן לספר בגנות בני אדם כמו שעשה ואמר כמה מכוער כו' וק"ל

which roughly means the person was saying not only must you stop saying such things you must also stop acting in a manner that can cause you to say such things.

The word מרגילו used in the Gemara usually means accustomed. (רגיל) However, it is also used in the Gemara to mean to doing something that will cause someone to start acting in a certain way . The Maharsha is saying that in this Gemara it meant the latter usage.

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  • Where in the gemara does it " mean to doing something that will cause someone to start acting in a certain way"? – Maurice Mizrahi Dec 10 '20 at 18:19
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    The Gemorah refers to certain behavior that will cause people to sin as Margeloy Ldvar Avera. The Gemora Bava Basra 21B refers to giving out nuts to children so they come to his store as שמרגילן אצל. He isn't actually looking for them to get used to coming to his store. He is looking for them to SHOP in his store. מרגילis being used for the cause of the end behavior. Not the end behavior itself. – Schmerel Dec 10 '20 at 18:32

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