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Negative Commandment #51

Sefer Ha’mitzvos Ha’Katzar (The concise book of mitzvos)
By the Chofetz Chaim

This book lists the Torah mitzvos that can be observed today

Second Section – the Negative Commandments

51. It is a negative commandment "do not cause suffering to a widow or an orphan."

As it states in Shemos (Exodus) 22:21, "Do not cause suffering to any widow or orphan." This applies even if they are wealthy, or the widow or orphan of a king; one must give them honor. A person should not cause them distress or heartache with harsh words. A person should be more careful with their money than his own. One that causes distress or heartache, and all the more so, one that hits them or curses them, has transgressed this negative commandment and his punishment is written explicitly in the Torah in Shemos 22:23: "I will display my anger and kill you with the sword and your wives will be widows and your children will be orphans."

A person is called an orphan if he is an orphan from the father or from the mother, until he reaches the age where he can take care of all of his needs like other adults. It is allowable to punish them in regards to learning Torah or teaching a trade, so they follow the right path. In any case, one should discipline slowly, with lovingkindness and mercy.

This applies in all places and at all times, for men and for women.