The Cost of Bullying and Harassment

Posted on February 10, 2012 at 1:45 PM

By Gary Konecky

For several years now, we have seen an unfortunate series of news reports about children committing suicide as a result of bullying an dharassment. 


‘Aboth D'Rabbi Nathan (chapter 31 verse 2) discusses a teaching from the mishnah (Sanhedrin 4:5). That teaching is that one who saves a life is credited as if that person saved an entire world.  Conversely, we are also taught that if one destroys a life, it is as if that person destroyed an entire world.  The proof text cited for this is the murder of Able by his brother Cain.  After the murder, G-d confronts Cain, and in Genesis 4:10, G-d says:  “The voice of thy brother’s bloods crieth unto Me.” 


Note the use of the plural “bloods.”  As ‘Aboth D’Rabbi Nathan explains:  “He shed the blood of one person, yet scripture speaks of many bloods!  But it teaches you the blood of his sons, of his sons’ sons, and of his descendants to the end of all generations that were destined to issue from him, all stood and cried to the Holy One, blessed be He. Hence you learn that one man is equal in worth to the entire creation.”


And what of the children who were bullied and harassed into committing suicide?  What of the their lives?  What of the things that will never be because they were hounded to death before they could fulfill their promise and potential?  What of the lives that they could have touched, the people whose lives they could have made a difference in?  All that is lost forever, and somewhere in heaven their bloods may well be crying out.


Nor are children the only victims of bullying and harassment?  What of the adults so tortured that they cannot sleep or hold down a job?  What of the adults so tortured that they are driven from their homes?  What of the adults who need therapy or medication as a result of all the harassment?  What of adults whose intimate relationships are destroyed because of the stress from unrelenting harassment and bullying?


Then we have the governments that aid and abet this harassment.  We have law enforcement agencies that blame the victims.  We have the schools that turn a blind eye to the bullying and harassment.  We have the politicians and clergy that actually encourage bullying.  We have the courts that issue rulings designed to enable the harassers to continue their bullying and torture unimpeded. 


And in the end, we have: “The voice of thy brother’s bloods crieth unto Me,” for he who destroys a single life, it is as if he destroyed creation. 




Source:  Page 29a(2), Minor Tractates, edited by Rev. Dr. Abraham Cohen, MA, Ph. D., DHL, Soncino Press, copyright 1965.


Categories: Gay, Lesbian and Transgender, Sermon, Current Events (and people in the news)

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Reply [email protected]
5:42 PM on February 23, 2012 
Thank you for the compliment and you are most welcome for the invitation.

FrPatrick says...
Very nice article Gary......thank you for inviting me to join!
Reply FrPatrick
10:05 AM on February 11, 2012 
Very nice article Gary......thank you for inviting me to join!