Scaring or startling someone is generally a violation of Onaas Devarim. Is it permitted in order to teach someone a lesson?

For example, if someone is crossing a street while texting, can you honk at them, startling them, in order to cause them to be more careful in the future?

Sources and/or serious severos only, please.

  • Would any analog of Onaas Devarim be helpful to you, or specifically scaring/startling someone? Dec 28 '15 at 2:14
  • @yEz If you can draw a serious severa or meaningful analog from the example you have in mind, that would be great. I'm not looking to downvote people, only to get cogent arguments.
    – LN6595
    Dec 28 '15 at 2:27
  • 3
    related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/57370/759
    – Double AA
    Dec 28 '15 at 2:57
  • Are you talking about a case of bona fide danger, like someone texting while illegally jaywalking where there might be traffic? Or are you talking about a much more nebulous concern of danger, like not wearing a sweater outside or texting while crossing in a crosswalk with a group of people? (In the latter case, I imagine that the danger from startling someone is probably greater than the danger you are trying to prevent).
    – Fred
    Jan 7 '16 at 20:04
  • I don't have a source for this right now, but the mitzva of tochacha is generally unpleasant, yet not only permitted but required. So perhaps this case would be similarly permitted.
    – LN6595
    Dec 17 '19 at 2:36

Rabbi Zilberstein has a "teshuva" in which he was asked about the following (shortened for brevity):

Someone was sitting on a bus behind two girls who were speaking lashon hara about a third girl who had just gotten engaged. The lady sitting behind them leaned over and told them that it was her son who was engaged to this girl and she was so glad to have overheard all of their earnest remarks about the girl, as now the mother knew to save her son from this relationship and she was going to break off the shidduch. The girls attempted to convince the woman that they had just been joking and exaggerating, and that really she was a great girl, but the mother refused to be convinced. The girls began to cry, but the woman remained unmoved. Finally, before getting off the bus, the woman told them that she wasn't actually the boy's mother, but she could have been.

R' Zilberstein was asked if the suffering she had caused these girls in order to teach them not to speak lashon hara was permitted, and he replied that it was not.

So from here it seems that at least R' Zilberstein holds Onaas Devarim is not permitted in order to teach a lesson.

  • 2
    Where is this "teshuva" recorded?
    – Double AA
    Dec 28 '15 at 4:31
  • @DoubleAA Somewhere in והערב נא but I don't have a copy handy to look up which volume or what parsha. Dec 28 '15 at 4:47
  • 3
    +1 - but I'm not convinced that causing the trauma in your answer is the same is honking at a person endagering their life. Dec 28 '15 at 8:06

Some sevaros...

If you are angry with the person and you honk at them to annoy them then you may as well as have upset them by shouting at them which is onoas devarim.

If you are concerned for their safety and honk at them you have possibly saved their lives in a future scenario and you have been mekayem the mitzva of lo sa'amod al dam re'echah.

If you want to get them out of your way and have no interest in their feelings you are within your rights, this is similar to someone who was me'maleh your reshus (because you have a right to drive on the road) with chaviyos in which case you can smash them in order to get through.

  • According to the first sevarah, you may also be in violation of Lo Tiqom, Lo Tittor, or Lo Tisna
    – Lee
    Oct 9 '16 at 21:27

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