“Sticks and Stones”: Dealing with Insults

Question

Someone in school is constantly insulting me: I’m fat, I’m stupid, I’m a loser, blah blah blah. What does Judaism teach about how to respond to insulting behavior? Thanks!

, , 10 months

Answers

  1. First of all, keep telling yourself it’s all just a lot of “blah blah blah” as you call it. Now, how do you respond, if at all?

    Judaism teaches that you are unique. You have a unique personality and soul. In fact, everyone has different character traits. It’s therefore difficult to give one answer for everyone, but my general advice would be to “grin and bear it” if you can. You know you are a good person. Your friends know it. What more do you need? Ignoring the insults may initially be difficult to do, but can actually be a sign of strength and a way to avoid additional “problems”.

    In addition the Torah teaches that one who does not respond to insults has a very elevated soul and is rewarded for controlling the urge to trade insult for insult.

    Our Sages teach: They who suffer shame and do not shame others, who bear insult and do not respond, who perform mitzvahs with love and rejoice in their suffering, about them it is written, “Those who love God are like the sun going forth with all its power.” (Judges 5:31)

    This verse contains the closing words of the Prophetess Deborah after victory over the Canaanites. The message that our Sages convey is that one should not take insults to heart, and that one should accept any suffering as a gift from God to atone for sins.

    Of course, if you can avoid the insulting person in the first place that would almost certainly be the best course of action!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team