In an effort to make the calendar more interesting, there are many days on the calendar that have been designated as “holidays.” Many of these so-called “holidays” are intended to be cute or satirical. Others seek to acknowledge different groups of people (e.g. Stepmother’s day). Some of these nouveau-holidays, however, were created to help make the world a nicer, better place. One such holiday was yesterday, January 3rd, which has been designated as “Humiliation Day.” This holiday, far from how it sounds, is intended to be a day that “should be viewed as a time to recognize the negativity of humiliating someone or a group of people.”

We might wonder about the values of a society that has to set aside a specific day to highlight that which seems to be such a basic human moral value. Judaism, however, has always emphasized the importance of being aware of how a person’s words or actions affect others.

In Judaism, humiliating/embarrassing another person is considered a particularly cruel and inconsiderate act. In fact, the act of causing another to go pale (or to blush, since one usually pales as part of the blushing process), is equated with murder: “A Tanna (teacher cited in the Mishna) recited before Rabbi Nahman ben Isaac: He who publicly shames his neighbor is as though he had shed blood. Whereupon he remarked to him: ‘You say well, because I have seen it, the ruddiness departing and paleness supervening’” (Baba Metzia 58b).

The Talmud goes on to quote Rabbi Hanina: “All who descend into Gehinnom (purgatory) reascend, excepting three who descend but do not reascend: He who commits adultery with a married woman, publicly shames his neighbor, or gives an evil nickname to his neighbor.”

And so, while having a particular day designated “Humiliation Day,” provides an interesting life lesson, it is a lesson Judaism espouses every day.

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