"The gemara says all who descend into Gehenna (hell) eventually leave. Except for one who publicly shames his neighbour" halachipedia

Then it says the methods for atoning for such embarrasment.

If one embarrassed someone and regrets it and does teshuvah by ensuring it doesn't happen again and feels bad but does not ask the person's forgiveness are they still at risk for eternal gehinnom (even if they could technically apologize but don't want to engage in it)?

Also if one calls his friend a derogatory nickname and does not ask his friend for forgiveness but regrets it and never repeats this activity with him or anyone else is he also potentially 'doomed' unless he asks for forgiveness?

What if this happened before bar mitzvah? What if this occured before 20? What about after 20? What if the degree of embarrassment was minor? What if the one/s he offended was not nice to him and put him down as well?

Also finally, how does this account for the rest of a persons deeds and life if they have not achieved atonement for this severe infraction (including for those who won't do any teshuvah)?

  • 1
    Question seems broad. Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/29576/15571
    – Oliver
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 16:25
  • I agree, but I didn't want to omit anything...I'm also fine with partial answers.
    – code613
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 16:28
  • 1
    I understand, but consider asking separate questions.
    – Oliver
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 16:33
  • 1. Does it fall under "to be killed and not to transgress"? No. It could not be worse than murder or idolatry. 2. Gemmorah says "everything is relative to the offender and the offended - it can not be generalized. 3. This pattern of exaggeration is very common especially for minor sins, to emphasize the moral commitment. It does not reflect the actual measure of "punishment". 4. Nobody knows what happens in hell, how time is counted or how sins are valued. In general nobody really knows how the whole penitentiary system in the Heaven works. I think you should not expect much from answers.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 18:32
  • Regarding before 13/20, why should this be any different than the usual way of how Divine punishment works, that he is not punished for his sins until he turns 20?
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 21:21

2 Answers 2


To those parts of your question which refer to when he “does not ask his friend for forgiveness”, the Rambam says in Hilchos Teshuva 2 (9)

Teshuvah and Yom Kippur only atone for sins between man and God; for example, a person who ate a forbidden food or engaged in forbidden sexual relations, and the like. However, sins between man and man; for example, someone who injures a colleague, curses a colleague, steals from him, or the like will never be forgiven until he gives his colleague what he owes him and appeases him.

[It must be emphasized that] even if a person restores the money that he owes [the person he wronged], he must appease him and ask him to forgive him.

Even if a person only upset a colleague by saying [certain] things, he must appease him and approach him [repeatedly] until he forgives him.

So the Rambam is clear that both teshuvah and appeasing the injured party are required.

Note however the case when someone spoke loshon hora against his friend and his friend did not know of it. Then Rabbi Yisroel Salanter takes the view that the speaker should not inform him that he spoke loshon hora against him. The Chofetz Chaim takes the view that he must inform him when he asks forgiveness. To study this issue in detail see for example here.


If one embarrassed someone and regrets it.... Also if one calls his friend a derogatory nickname...

Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 3:14:

וְיֵשׁ עֲבֵרוֹת קַלּוֹת מֵאֵלּוּ וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁהָרָגִיל בָּהֶן אֵין לָהֶם חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא וּכְדַאי הֵן לְהִתְרַחֵק מֵהֶן וּלְהִזָּהֵר בָּהֶן. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. הַמְכַנֶּה שֵׁם לַחֲבֵרוֹ ... וְהַמַּלְבִּין פְּנֵי חֲבֵרוֹ בָּרַבִּים. ... בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד מֵאֵלּוּ אֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא כְּשֶׁמֵּת בְּלֹא תְּשׁוּבָה אֲבָל אִם שָׁב מֵרִשְׁעוֹ וּמֵת וְהוּא בַּעַל תְּשׁוּבָה הֲרֵי זֶה מִבְּנֵי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא

There are sins which are lighter than these [mentioned previously, 3:6-13], but nevertheless the Sages said that one who regularly does them does not have a portion in the World to Come, and it is fitting that one should distance himself from them and be careful regarding them. And these are they: One who calls his friend by a nickname [which he doesn’t like - BM 58b] ... one who embarrasses his friend in public... When are these words said, that these people do not have a portion in the World to Come? When he dies without repenting. But if he returns from his wickedness, and he dies having repented, he has a portion in the World to Come.

Combine that with what he says earlier, in 2:9:

אֲבָל עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ כְּגוֹן הַחוֹבֵל אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ הַמְקַלֵּל חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ גּוֹזְלוֹ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אֵינוֹ נִמְחַל לוֹ לְעוֹלָם עַד שֶׁיִּתֵּן לַחֲבֵרוֹ מַה שֶּׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ וִירַצֵּהוּ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֶחֱזִיר לוֹ מָמוֹן שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ צָרִיךְ לְרַצּוֹתוֹ וְלִשְׁאל מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁיִּמְחל לוֹ. אֲפִלּוּ לֹא הִקְנִיט אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ אֶלָּא בִּדְבָרִים צָרִיךְ לְפַיְּסוֹ וְלִפְגֹּעַ בּוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּמְחל לוֹ.

But sins which are between man and his friend, such as one who wounds his friend, or one who curses his friend, or one who robs him, or the like, he is not forgiven [Above] ever until he he gives to his friend that which he owes him and appeases him. Even if he returns the money which he owes him, he still must appease him and ask for forgiveness from him. Even if he didn’t harm his friend with anything but words, he still must appease him and entreat him until he forgives him.

This latter Rambam is essentially quoting the Mishnah, Yoma 85b.

It should be noted that Tosfos (BM 58b s.v. “Chutz miGimmel”) takes a slightly different view of these sins:

חוץ מג' שיורדין ואין עולין - אין לפרש דאין עולין לעולם ... אלא ה"פ כל היורדין עולין מיד ואין אור של גיהנם שולט בהן ... אבל יש מהם נדונין לעולם המלבין פני חבירו ברבים דאמר בסמוך אין לו חלק לעולם הבא ... אי נמי מלבין נמי נהי דאין לו חלק לעולם הבא אינם נדונין יותר מי"ב חדש אלא לאחר י"ב חדש לא חיין ולא נדונין ושרוים בלא טובה ובלא רעה... וכולהו בשלא עשה תשובה דתשובה מועלת לכל דבר

[When the Gemara says that these three don’t ever leave Gehennom,] don’t explain this to mean that they never leave ... rather, this is its explanation: everyone who descended into Gehennom leaves immediately, and the fire of Gehennom does not rule over them. ... But some of these [mentioned in BM] are judged eternally - one who embarrasses his friend in public, as we say momentarily, does not have a share in the World to Come [while others mentioned are judged for 12 months]. Alternatively, one who embarrasses, also: granted that he doesn’t have a share in the World to Come, he’s not judged longer than 12 months, but after 12 months, he doesn’t live, nor is he judged, and he rests with no good nor bad. ... But all of this is when he doesn’t repent, for repentance helps for anything.

According to the above halachos, one must repent in full, which, for sins between man and his friend, includes asking for full forgiveness. If he doesn’t ask for forgiveness, his repentance is incomplete, and he will be judged, whether like the Rambam, or Tosfos, or whatever Hashem decides is appropriate for him.

What if this happened before Bar Mitzvah...before 20?

Why would you think this is any different than the usual rule, that Divine punishment is only meted out at 20?

What if the degree of embarrassment was minor?

Who are you to judge what the victim feels? You might not think that it’s minor, but his entire world may have been shattered as a result of your careless remark. But let’s say that you’re psychic and you actually know how embarrassed he was by it. Let’s go back to the Gemara everyone is discussing (BM 58b):

מכנה היינו מלבין אע"ג דדש ביה בשמיה

One who calls [his friend by] a nickname - that’s the same as one who embarrasses! [Answer: He’s punished] even if he is used to it being used as his name.

Translation follows Rashi.

So we see from here that regardless of the amount of embarrassment, it still is a sin.

What if the one/s he offended was not nice to him...as well?

Even worse. Now you’re also in violation of “Love your neighbor like yourself.” This is in accordance with the famous Gemara in Shabbos 31a:

אמר לו דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד זו היא כל התורה כולה ואידך פירושה הוא זיל גמור.

Hillel said to him, “That which you hate when done to you, do not do to your friend. This is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary; go and learn.”

as understood by Maharsha there:

והיינו דכתיב בתורה ואהבת לרעך כמוך

And this is that which is written in the Torah, “you should love your friend like yourself.”

Note that this is not an issue of revenge, as Rashi to Vayikra 19:18 notes, quoting Yoma 23a:

לא תקם. אָמַר לוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי מַגָּלְךָ, אָמַר לוֹ לַאו! לְמָחָר אָמַר לוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי קַרְדּוּמְךָ, אָמַר לוֹ, אֵינִי מַשְׁאִילְךָ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁלֹּא הִשְׁאַלְתָּנִי, זוּ הִיא נְקִימָה;

“Don’t take revenge.” Reuven says to Shimon, “Lend me your sickle,” and Shimon says back, “No.” The next day, Shimon says to Reuven, “Lend me your shovel,” and Reuven says back, “I won’t lend you, just like you didn’t lend me.” This is revenge.

So revenge is not doing something to someone, but rather not doing something to someone.

Regarding your final question, I encourage you to post it separately, as while all of the above questions are somewhat contained, this last one is a completely different can of worms.

  • A jew is ideally to forgive a fellow jew else he is judged more. Of course certain forms of shame may warrant just cause not to forgive and one has that right to not forgive unless his fellow appeases him at least 3 times. I want to know still if teshuvah can be complete without asking for forgiveness with that argument in mind (his fellow is on good/nuetral terms with him in his mind already); Is the 'asking' part for forgiveness to the person not even dependent on a level of embarrassment at all? As mentioned, "even if he is used to it being used as his name."
    – code613
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 3:23
  • @code613 No. “He is not forgiven ever until he ... appeases him.” And yes, the level of embarrassment is irrelevant.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 3:30
  • What if the shamer did not apologize and was even shamed afterwards by the former one who was shamed? Neither of them exchanged apologies. Would both go to eternal gehinnom for shaming one another or could it be measure for measure and no eternal gehinnom?
    – code613
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 3:48
  • @code613 I don’t understand. If it’s a sin, it’s a sin. Why should it matter that the other guy did it also?
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 3:57
  • as another possible means of atonement
    – code613
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 4:37

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