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Is Ona'as Devarim considered a subset of damage?

On the one hand: you can't be forced to pay for it. As discussed in this answer:

R' Meir of Rottenburg holds that O'naas Devarim (the sin of hurting someone's feelings with words...) is actually punishable by lashes. He explains this is because money doesn't help. So, another punishment that is fitting is used instead.

The Mordechai also holds that the punishment is lashes. Those that argue with them about lashes, admit that money is no substitute either. (The Bes Yosef questions their opinion about lashes in Choshen Mishpat 1).

And, as I commented on that answer,

I'll add to that ... the Gemara in BM 58b, discussing why Ona'as Devarim is worse than normal Ona'ah, that R' Shmuel bar Nachmani's understanding is that Ona'as Devarim can't be repaid, while Ona'ah can.

If something is considered damage, you can be forced to pay for it. If it's not considered damage, you cannot be forced to pay for it. This point is brought out more clearly in the Hezik Re'iyah sugya (BB 2a-3a) and the Hezik She'eino Nikar sugya (Gittin 53a). From the fact that Ona'as Devarim cannot be punished monetarily, it must be that it's not considered damage.


On the other hand: Ona'as Devarim is a subset of Ona'as Mamon. It's derived from the fact that Ona'ah is written twice (Vayikra 25:14,17, as derived in BM 58b). Ona'ah, in turn, could have been derived from Gezeilah, were it not for specific details of Ona'ah that don't exist by theft (BM 61a). Otherwise, though, Ona'ah might as well have been the same as Gezeilah. Thievery, in turn, is a type of damage (BK 4b). As we just said Ona'as Mamon is a subset of Gezeilah, it, too, is a type of damage. And as Ona'as Devarim is a subset of Ona'as Mamon, it, too, must be a type of damage.

Again, if something is considered damage, you can be forced to pay for it. And yet, Ona'as Devarim cannot be forced to be paid for. Does this not leave us with a paradox? What is wrong with these lines of reasoning, as both cannot possibly be correct?

  • In short, there is no evidence that ona'at devarim is classified as damage, and hence no paradox. – mevaqesh Oct 28 '16 at 18:52
  • Ona'as Mamon is not a subset of Ona'as Mamon? Did you mean Ona'as Devarim isn't a subset? How isn't it? The pesukim seem pretty clear that they're the same thing. What didn't I substantiate? That sugya in Eizehu Neshech seems pretty clear that Ona'ah and Gezeilah are the same except for some details that prevent one from being learned from the other. || See above. || I'm not trying to derive new halachos out of thing air. I'm trying to understand what's wrong with what I said, because obviously either one or the other line of thought is incorrect. – DonielF Oct 28 '16 at 18:53
  • AFAIK ona'at devarim is not a subset of ona'at mamon, and you do nothing to demonstrate this. You just keep repeating it: As we just said Ona'as Mamon is a subset of Gezeilahwithout substantiating it. || While the derasha for ona'at devarim, may be from ona'at mamon, that doesn't mean that they are identical in every respect...or any respect. || In general, Rishonim don't attempt to derive new halakhot from the context of derashot, nor do they make their own derashot. Rather, they understand the derasha in light of what they know about its halakhic applications; not vice versa. – mevaqesh Oct 28 '16 at 18:57
  • The Torah never says they are the same; the Torah never mentions ona'at devarim at all; its just a derasha. Even were the derasha the peshat, it still never says they are the same. Let's say we grant that the two are somehow related, how does that show that one is a subset of the other? AFAIK Not every case of ona'at devarim is ona'at mamon, so it is not a subset. Nothing in your question provides any evidence that it is. || You are trying to use what you know about a derasha to derive halakhot not stated by Hazal. AFAIK this is the opposite of the general approach of the Rishonim. – mevaqesh Oct 28 '16 at 19:03
  • To summarize, the methodology of guessing the nature of onaat devarim is questionable, the conclusion is unfounded, even according to the methodology, and there is therefore no evidence of paradox. – mevaqesh Oct 28 '16 at 19:05

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