In the עליות דרבינו יונה to Bava Basra (quoted at the end of sefer Chofetz Chaim). He says although the Torah forbids (ridiculing someone) לא תונו - it is certainly permitted and actually a מצוה to ridicule one who has sinned but hasn't (won't do?) teshuvah - he derives this from a passuk in Mishlei 28:4 "שומרי תורה יתגרו בם" - (Q#1) technically how can a passuk in Nach supercede an issur in the Torah? (Q#2) Where does he get this from I found a Gemara in Berachos 7b/Megillah 6b which permits direct confrontations with a רשע - but seems to be very different from what RY is permitting?

quote from עליות דרבינו יונה

כדתניא לא תונו איש את עמיתו באונאת דברים הכתוב מדבר. הא כיצד היה בעל תשובה לא יאמר לו זכור מעשיו הראשונים, ותניא כל הפוסל פסול ואינו מדבר בשבחו של עולם. אבל ודאי בדברים שבינו לחבירו, שאין לו תקנה עד שיעשה תשובה או ירצּה את חביהו, והוא אינו מרציהו, **או בשאר עבירות שאוחז בהם ועושה אותם במזיד, ועודנו מחזיקּ בהם ולא במקּרה, אבל הם מדרכיו ולימודו, מצּוה לגנותו בפני כל אדם שנאמר עוזבי תורה יהללו רשע ושומרי תורה יתגרו בם, וכדי שיתרהקו בני אדם מדרךְ רשע וכמ"ש ושומרי תורה יתגרו בם, וכדי שישוב גם הוא מדרכיו ויתקן מעשיו, על זה אמרו כל מילתא דמיתאמרא באפי תלתא לית בה משום לישנא בישא ומותר לו לאומרה אם הוא יודע שהדבר אמת

  • From Rabbeinu Yona language it seems he’s referring to the mitzvah of tochacha since this is a case where the person won’t change unless he’s publicly admonished sefaria.org/…
    – Chatzkel
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 3:36
  • @Chatzkel - How does he know that the mitzvah of rebuke supercedes the לאו of לאו תונו. Does it supercede other לאוין. Especially since the הקיש of הוכיח תוכיח to לא תשא עליו חטא implies the opposite.
    – Chaim
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


In reverse order,


Where does he get this from

Rav Hinana (Baba Mesia 59a) describes the scope of the prohibition as only applying to shomre miswoth (those observant of miswoth), as only they are properly called עמיתו:

אמר רב חננא בריה דרב אידי: מאי דכתיב "ולא תונו איש את עמיתו" – עם שאתך בתורה ובמצוות אל תונהו"

Rav Hinana, son of Rav Idi, says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And you shall not mistreat each man his colleague ('amitho)”? [The word 'amitho is interpreted as a contraction of 'im ito, meaning: One who is with him.] With [one who is] with you in [observance of] Torah and miswoth, you shall not mistreat him.

The Hagahoth Maimonioth (H. Mekhirah 14, 4) wrote:

תניא ולא תונו איש את עמיתו עם שאתך בתורה ובמצות לא תונהו. למדנו שלא הזהיר הכתוב באונאת דברים אלא ירא השם. ואמר במדרש, שאם הונה עצמו, אתה רשאי להונהו, שאין קרוי עמיתך

It was taught that you should not mistreat your colleague if he is with you in Torah and miswoth. We have learned that the Torah does not warn against Onath Debharim except against those who awe God. And the Midrash says, that if he mistreats himself you are permitted to mistreat him, for he is not called your colleague.


how can a passuk in Nach supercede an issur in the Torah?

When R. Yonah quotes Mishle, this serves merely as a sort of asmakhta. It is not the source of the law (the scope of which is defined above), rather it is scriptural allusion that resonates with the same/similar concept. Accordingly, this ought not be interpreted as an occasion where a passage in Nakh is being used to supercede a Torah prohibition.

In the comments you write regarding R. Yonah's position that:

It seems as though... he's referring to a case of a one time sin... that would be pretty extreme to categorize him as יצא מכלל עמיתך - for the one sin

R. Yonah states (Gate 3, sec. 219):

ואם החוטא איש אשר איננו ירא מלפני האלהים. כמו הפורק מעליו עול מלכות שמים. ואינו נזהר מעבירה אחת אשר כל שער עמו יודע כי היא עבירה. מותר להכלימו ולספר בגנותו. כך אמרו רבותינו (ויקרא כ״ה:י״ז) אל תונו איש את עמיתו. עם שאתך בתורה ובמצות אל תונהו בדברים. ואשר לא שת לבו אל דבר ה' מותר להכלימו במעלליו ולהודיע תועבותיו ולשפוך בוז עליו. ועוד אמרו מפרסמין את החנפים מפני חלול השם. אבל אם נכשל בחטא על דרך מקרה. ורוב הימים דרכו להשתמר מעונו. אין לגלות על חטאו

And if the sinner is one who does not fear God, such as one who casts off from himself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, and is not heedful of a certain transgression which is known to be a transgression by all the others of his fellow men, it is permitted to humiliate him and to speak degradingly of him. As our Sages have said in relation to the verse, "and ye shall not wrong one another" - "If one is with you in Torah and miswoth, you shall not wrong him with words." If one however does not apply his heart to the word of God, it is permitted to humiliate him through his deeds, to make known his abominations, and to pour shame upon him. And they have said further. "Hypocrites should be exposed to prevent desecration of the Name". But if one falls into sin by chance, and most of his days is wont to guard himself against transgression, his sin should not be revealed.

Making it clear, that in his estimation it is inapplicable to a single fleeting sin, but rather to a specific type of character with an entire disposition of the personality. In order to be open to such criticism, this individual must flagrantly violate a law which is undeniably known by all of his coreligionists, do so as a pattern of behavior, and in a way that demonstrates that he is פורק מעליו עול מלכות שמים (casts off from upon himself the yoke of heaven).

This type of individual (הפורק עול) is described in greater detail by R. Yonah earlier (Gate 3, sec. 143):

וענין הפורק עול כגון הכופר לאכול נבילות או לאכול חלב ודם או לחלל יו"ט. ואף על פי שאינו עובר על שאר המצות. אחרי אשר הסיר מעליו עול אזהרה אחת, כבר מרד בשם יתעלה. אמנם כי גם פעמים הצדיקים נכשלים בחטא אחד אבל אין זה בלתי על דרך מקרה. בהתגבר עליו היצר. ונפשו מרה לו על הדבר. ונזהר ממנו אחרי כן. אבל האומר בלבבו לפרוק מעליו עול אזהרה אחת כל עת אשר יתאוה לעבור הוא הנקרא כופר לדבר א'.

"Removal of the yoke" refers to a denial by which one permits to himself such things as eating a carcass, suet, or blood, and desecrating the festivals. Although he does not transgress the other miswoth, still, by having removed from himself the yoke of one of exhortation, he has rebelled against the blessed Name. It cannot be denied that the righteous, also, sometimes go astray in respect to a particular sin, but when they do, it is the result of circumstances, of their having been overpowered by the evil inclination, and they are bitter over what they have done, and keep from doing so again. But one who entertains in his heart the thought of removing from himself the yoke of one exhortation whenever he desires to transgress, is called "an unbeliever in respect to one thing."

  • re: Q2 - You might be right, but It seems as though re: בין אדם לחבירו - that he's referring to a case of a one time sin) "מי שקובל על חבירו בעבירה שעושה חבירו" (re בין אדם למקום it's different) - who has not done teshuvah (hasn't returned the $ or ask for forgiveness) - that would be pretty extreme to categorize him as יצא מכלל עמיתך - for the one sin
    – Chaim
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 16:51
  • 1
    @Chaim I've edited the post to reflect your concern and clarify R. Yonah's position. Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 18:13
  • In ST219 that you mentioned where it's only allowed if he's a פורק עול - he states that this is in regards to one who has illicit relations (בין אדם למקום), and for the reason that he's not part of עמיתך (thus excluded from the אונאת דברים prohibition). He points out that other categories of sinners (e.g. the 1 timer) would not be permitted to shame. However, before the case of ערוה, he mentions that a witness is allowed to testify against someone who stole,etc - i.e. שבין אדם לחבירו - (no concern for the embarrassment it's cause אונאת דברים) and not specific to a פורק עול- i.e. עמיתך
    – Chaim
    Commented Jul 3, 2022 at 5:22
  • i.e. I think the answer is a great answer, and I've clicked to accept it as my Q didn't distinguish between בין אדם למקום vs. לחבירו. However, I think the answer only addresses בין אדם למקום. Whereas בין אדם לחבירו RY seems to allow publicly revealing the sin (thus embarrassing the sinner) while the sinner is still בכלל עמיתך - so long as he hasn't done teshuvah (same split seems to be in עליות דרבינו יונה where he only describes the פורק עול in regards to non monetary. Likewise in ST221 he concludes that even outside of beis din, and even for non-monetary בין אדם לחבירו matters
    – Chaim
    Commented Jul 3, 2022 at 16:46
  • I don't believe that there is a distinction to be made between בין אדם לחבירו/למקום here. When R. Yonah mentions the case of theft, he raises it as an exception to the general idea he endorses that one should not individually testify against their fellow (i.e. for naught). In the case of theft, the individual witness is instead obligated to swear to their testimony in lieu of a second witness. These are the demands of justice so that the victim will be restored. Other such occasions where an individual has witnessed the commission of sin (be it בין אדם לחבירו or למקום), he should not testify. Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 23:54

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