How should insulting words be handled?

There has been much talk recently about what should be done against the comedians who insulted people. I think that what we need to understand is that the slander must be handled in a practical way. Saying that one is sorry is not enough. Something needs to be fixed.

The word “sin,” which is a prime element in Christian theology, is chet in Hebrew, and chet means nothing more than “missing the mark.” It is like people shooting an arrow at a target and missing. What do they do? They do not feel “guilt.”  They do not beat their hearts. They do not seek religious absolution. They do not recite prayers. They realize their mistake, thinks how they can avoid making the same mistake again, reach back into their quiver, take out another arrow, and shoot again. Seen this way, people who miss the mark need to take practical measures to assure they will hit the mark in the future.

Maimonides put it this way in his Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance: Repentance, rectifying a wrong, is done properly when a person (1) decides to abandon the past wrong behaviors, (2) resolves not to do the wrong deed again, (3) figures out how to act to correct the misdeed, and (4) develops habits of behavior to assure that he or she will not repeat the wrong.

It is no surprise that people hearing that the slanderers simply said they were sorry were not satisfied that this was enough.

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