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Given that voyeurism by Jewish figures has been in the news, I'm curious. How does Jewish law traditionally treat voyeurism (if it does at all)? What is the punishment for voyeurism?

Note: I am not referring to punishments or prohibitions against looking at immodestly dressed people or images in general. I refer to punishments or prohibitions against voyeurism as a form of damage or attack on the target.

  • 3
    Mishna BK 8:6 could be relevant. – Double AA Feb 19 '15 at 21:37
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    Heizik reiah see Beg bava basra – sam Feb 19 '15 at 22:50
  • "Given that voyeurism by Jewish figures has been in the news" could i suggest you edit that sentince to read "by a jewish figure" i dont think that more than one person has been dealth with in the national news thank G-d – Shoel U'Meishiv May 11 '15 at 11:54
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While hezek re'iyah is clearly an established halachic concept, they don't seem to explicate what's included in such a violation. In Bava Basra, they discuss what one may or may not do in building a house due to hezek re'iyah, and it seems that beis din may force a person to rebuild in order to fix any existing privacy violations.

There's also a story in Taanis about a bochur spying on a rabbi's daughter through a hole in their fence (didn't end well for the daughter), but it's aggadah and doesn't discuss the assessment of damages due to voyeurism.

It would seem (though I cannot point to an exact source) that hezek re'iyah would be treated as any other form of hezek and would be subjected to the same forms of recompensation. Much like pulling off a woman's headcovering in public and other forms of damage (see all over bava kama), you only pay what's applicable to your situation.

For public embarrassment to a woman, you pay a very high amount of boshet, but no nezek, shevet, tzar, or ripui. See Bava Kama 8:6. Also in that perek (first mishna) - embarrassing someone who is currently unaware of their embarrassment (like a sleeping person) is just as assur. This is even stated explicitly by boshet (so don't go doodling on your passed out drunken friend's face...). This means that despite the fact that the women originally had NO IDEA they were being subjected to voyeurism, they are still considered to have been damaged and can collect after being informed of their damage.

In this case, they are certainly eligible to boshet (psychological damages). If the injured parties required therapy, they may be able to collect ripui and/or shevet (if the pursuit of damages, embarrassment, and psychological harm prevented them engaging in normal work). Both tzar and nezek refer to physical damage, so neither of those would apply in this case.

  • Is there embarrassment if the victims and no one else knows who was victimized? In the Bava Kama examples, I assume the embarrassment was soemthing that happened in front of others. By voyeurism, it's possible only the sicko in question is aware of it - where is the embarrassment? – jim Feb 22 '15 at 5:28
  • @jim Boshet is independent of an audience. If I slap you, I pay for embarrassing you regardless of anyone else knowing. The only consideration is whether this damage applies to an unaware party, for which the Mishna's example of a sleeping person fits the bill. Of course, you can only press charges once you are aware that damages have occurred... – Isaac Kotlicky Feb 22 '15 at 7:53
  • "There's also a story somewhere about a bochur..." Source: Ta'anis 24a, "הויא ליה ברתא בעלת יופי יומא חד חזיא לההוא גברא דהוה כריא בהוצא וקא חזי לה אמר לו מאי האי אמר ליה רבי אם ללוקחה לא זכיתי לראותה לא אזכה אמר לה בתי קא מצערת להו לברייתא שובי לעפריך ואל יכשלו ביך בני אדם". – Fred Feb 23 '15 at 7:22

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