#10 – Don’t Oppress a Widow or Orphan

Another lav that’s potential for a person to violate is “כָּל אַלְמָנָה וְיָתוֹם לֹא תְעַנּוּן”, any widow and any orphan you shall not oppress. Now the pasuk uses unusual language. It says kol almanah, any almanah and any orphan you’re not allowed to oppress.

The Rishonim explain to us what the Torah is saying over here is that there is an additional lo sa’aseh. Meaning, it is forbidden for me to oppress any Jew, “לֹא תוֹנוּ אִישׁ אֶת עֲמִיתוֹ”, any Jew I’m not allowed to oppress. But there is an additional lo sa’aseh. I have to be even more careful and even more guarded if that person is amongst the unfortunate people. A widow or an orphan are considered unfortunate and Hashem watches over them more carefully and there is a separate, discrete lo sa’aseh not to cause them oppression.

So if I speak lashon hara about an almanah or an orphan if I say it in front of them obviously I’m oppressing them. Oftentimes, even if it’s not in front of them it could be oppressing because they can’t defend themselves. And again, this is a discrete and separate lo sa’aseh, “כָּל אַלְמָנָה וְיָתוֹם לֹא תְעַנּוּן”, which a person can violate when he speaks lashon hara.