Leviticus 19:14:

לֹא־תְקַלֵּ֣ל חֵרֵ֔שׁ וְלִפְנֵ֣י עִוֵּ֔ר לֹ֥א תִתֵּ֖ן מִכְשֹׁ֑ל וְיָרֵ֥אתָ מֵּאֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ אֲנִ֥י יְהוָֽה׃

Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but thou shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.

Rash"i, among other commentaries, explain the 2nd part of this verse, "do not put a tsumbling block before the blind" to mean that this is not just to be explained literarily, nbut it applies to not misleading others. Numerous halachot are gleaned from this explanation, among them (forgot the Gemarah this is in) that a father is not allowed to hit a teen-age son, because of this rule.

I haven't seen any commentary glean a similar non-literal explanation regarding the beginning of the verse, "Do not insult the deaf."

For example, there are many people whom I've tried to offer advice that would help them improve their behavior or get themselves out of a difficult situation. They don't listen and they are still in the same situation and keep asking me for help. After a while, I don't really want to be near them, and I have to tell them, politely, but diplomatically, that I really don't want to hear them complain to me anymore and they have to get out of their situation and / or get help. Then, I avoid them, and they get offended when I do.

In a sense, they are "deaf", and, perhaps, I have "insulted" them. But, I haven't seen any commentary explain things this way or any other way that applies the term "deaf" except to someone who is physically "deaf". (Separate issue if this applies to deaf who wear cochlear implants, but feel free to address this in an answer, if you wish.) Rash"i just explains that you shouldn't insult anyone and then explains just why the Torah specified a cheresh, but he doesn't give the term cheresh a separate meaning as he does with iver.

Does anyone "redefine" the term cheresh beyond a physically deaf person?

2 Answers 2


Sefer Hamitzvos Hakatzar (by the author of Chafetz Chayim) lists as prohibition 45:

A prohibition-command not to curse a kasher Jew, as it says "do not curse a deaf person". That it says "a deaf person" is as an extra point: that even this fellow, who doesn't hear and [thus] isn't pained by this curse, one nonetheless violates by cursing him.

  • I'm not sure this helps you, DanF. It's not a redefinition of "cheresh" but it is an expansion of the prohibition's scope.
    – msh210
    Apr 27, 2015 at 3:25
  • 1
    Why doesn't it? It fits the same format for expansion as lo titen michshol. You've got my vote! Apr 27, 2015 at 11:46
  • @IsaacKotlicky - I need to mull through this. I was seeking something else beyond what Rash"i had stated as well. See 2nd to last par. in my question.
    – DanF
    Apr 27, 2015 at 14:29
  • @msh210 - Cc ^^^^
    – DanF
    Apr 27, 2015 at 14:30
  • @DanF There's never a need to ping the post owner; they get automatically pinged.
    – Scimonster
    Apr 28, 2015 at 7:08

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 66a) explains that לא תקלל חרש, באומללים שבעמך הכתוב מדבר--"Scripture writes, Thou shalt not curse the deaf; thus applying the injunction even to the humblest of thy people." This means that the prohibition applies even to the lowliest members of society, and not only to the leaders or judges.

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