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There is a social media personality called Mark Rober, and his thing is to find ways of publicly holding people accountable for misdemeanours, that generally are too petty for law to get involved.

For example, he will arrange with a sports stadium to film people driving in, and records anyone driving while using their cell phone. Then during the game on the big screen he will play the footage while the stadium camera shows their reaction.

It makes me wonder, would a Jew be allowed to do anything like this? Is embarrassing someone in public ever ok as a deterrent to unwanted behaviour?

For serious sins such as public adultery, we have the concept of vengeance killing (Kanna'in Pogin Bo), so obviously certain sins allow for strong responses. Is there a level of sinful behaviour that would allow or obligate a Jew to take action in such a way that embarrasses the person and sets a deterring tone to those watching? What are the rules and limits?

A realistic example of a grey area might be if there is a place where frum people regular congregate or travel through, and it is right next to someone's house, would one be allowed to scold someone if they are talking loudly at night there to their friends and disturbing the household?

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  • ויקרא י"ט:י"ז עם פרש"י
    – Joel K
    Jun 22, 2023 at 10:52
  • No, this is very superciliously puritanical.
    – The GRAPKE
    Jun 22, 2023 at 12:18
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    @TheGRAPKE that sounds like a personal opinion. Can you explain why we should presume motivation and why you have likened it to the puritans?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jun 22, 2023 at 12:50
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    "For serious sins such as public adultery, we have the mitzva of vengeance killing (Kanna'in Pogin Bo) ..." I wouldn't call it a mitzva. It's more of a halakha [ve-Ein Morin Ken].
    – Tamir Evan
    Jun 22, 2023 at 22:07
  • @RabbiKaii Do you think this person learns mussar?
    – The GRAPKE
    Jun 25, 2023 at 5:00

1 Answer 1

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In certain circumstances, yes, publicly calling someone out is not only acceptable but mandatory. See eg Sefer ha-Chinuch #239:

At the beginning of the rebuke it is fitting for a person to rebuke privately, with soft expressions and calm words, so that he not embarrass. But there is no doubt that if the sinner does not react to this, we shame the sinner in public and publicise his sin and insult him, until he returns to the better.

I very much doubt that this would extend to deliberately pouring popcorn over someone, though.

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  • That is assuming that there is a large group of "WE" who don't sin, a lone individual who does, and that publicly shaming him is likely to help. I question whether those circumstances apply to something like driving while on the phone.
    – Shalom
    Jun 22, 2023 at 17:49
  • Note, my original question mentioned popcorn, but you made a good point - it's irrelevant to this question so I took it out. As Shalom said, while I think this is a likely relevant source (+1), we have a ways to go before we can fully apply it to the question
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jun 22, 2023 at 18:46
  • @Shalom I’m not sure it does assume either of those things? There’s no principled reason why Reuben shouldn’t be called out for driving while using a cellphone, even if Shimon, who calls him out for it, sometimes does the same. Reuben’s conduct is just as wrongful, and just as dangerous, regardless.
    – Zarka
    Jun 22, 2023 at 21:44

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