(Inspired by this question)

Is watching televised talent shows, such as "American Idol", which are known to invite contestants to embarrass themselves in front of millions, and even have judges whose primary interest seems to be finding flaws to ridicule in their performances, a violation of HaMalbin Pnei Ḥavero BeRabim (embarrassing someone in public), or is that restriction lifted if:

  1. the individual watching isn't doing the embarrassing, and/or

  2. the individual being embarrassed participated voluntarily knowing that public ridicule could/would be a consequence, and/or

  3. the individual being "embarrassed" was then set up to earn a small fortune from his/her 15 minutes of infamy?

  • Something to think about. The Rabbis said that someone who gambles is disqualified from being a witness since gambling is akin to stealing (the person you are gambling with doesn't expect to lose and therefore doesn't give the money away wholeheartedly). Could we say the same thing by American Idol? nobody goes on the show thinking they are horrible, and therefore don't think that they will be ridiculed.
    – Menachem
    May 3, 2012 at 18:26
  • Is embarrassing somebody a prohibition that is nested in a subcategory of one of the Seven Noahide Mitzvot? If it is not, then I don't see why this question is valid. Jul 13, 2012 at 19:57
  • @AdamMosheh - I think that it is stated in the Talmud that embarrassing someone in public is tantamount to killing them. Jul 13, 2012 at 20:44
  • 2
    @AdamMosheh, are you seriously talking to yourself? In any case, I am asking whether it is a problem for Jews, not Noahides.
    – Seth J
    Jul 13, 2012 at 20:46
  • @SethJ - Nope, just thinking out loud. Jul 16, 2012 at 0:22

1 Answer 1


This seems to relate to Reb Moshe's teshuva on stage hypnotism which he assers because the subject is mevazeh themselves by publicly losing concious control of their faculties.

Given that 80% of the audiences pay-off seems vindictive, this would fit the same category.

I.e. there is no reciprocated good feeling between the actors and the audience which you would expect in normal theatre.

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