וידבר יהוה אל־משׁה לאמר
דבר אל־אהרן ואל־בניו לאמר זאת תורת החטאת במקום אשׁר תשׁחט העלה תשׁחט החטאת לפני יהוה קדשׁ קדשׁים הוא׃
The sages of the Jerusalem Talmud suggest that the reason for this commandment was to save sinners from public exposure causing embarrassment and public humiliation.
Someone who publicly brings a sin offering is inferred to have committed a sin or a transgression. By coming to the Temple with their sin offering, that person automatically exposes themselves to public embarrassment, if not humiliation. This in itself might prevent someone from coming forward. But if the sin offering is to be offered at the same place as the burnt offering, anyone witnessing someone bringing a sin offering to the Temple could also assume that it was a burnt offering brought as a donation. This is the reason why in synagogues, people are told to recite the sh'money-esrei prayer quietly in order for people not to feel embarrassed if they confess their sins during prayer The goal is to come clean before HaShem. As people, we have a tendency to love to get involved in other people's affairs, but offenses committed between two parties which are independent of us are really none of our business. When we get involved, we commit the sin of triangulation.
This verse therefore seems to teach us to be respectful of others; and not embarrass them by bringing their past faults.
A PASSOVER SEDER MESSAGE.
While these conclusions may seem to be obvious for most of us, I thought of bringing up some ideas as to how, even with benign intentions, we sometimes embarrass people by bringing up their faults. A mother who is friend of mine was complaining that her children, especially her boys, seldom come to visit her. This seems to be a general complaint of parents of young adult children. Later in the conversation this dear mother mentioned how when her children come, she tries to tell them about this and that and the other thing that she doesn't like, or bring back funny things from their past.
I am a father of six: five boys and one girl (which are now adults starting families of their own). My circle of friends is mostly composed of parents and grand-parents. I have noticed that mothers feel it as their entitled privilege to embarrass their kids, especially their boys, during family/friends gatherings, and that especially in front of their boy/girl friends or spouses. These mother seem to thoroughly enjoy publicly bringing up the embarrassing things their children did (is it some sort of pay-back :-)?) In return, the boys smile but might they feel diminished in front of their wives or fiancees? On the other hand, most mothers I know complain at the lack of communications, and mostly visits from their boys. I wonder why...?
Our children are out there in the adult world where they get some respect as individuals in their own rights, and do not like to come home to be humiliated and embarrassed by being treated like children in front of their spouses.
SOME OTHER WAYS WE EMBARRASS PEOPLE PUBLICLY.
Sometime, while intending to encourage someone with a child who has drug problems for example we may say something like, "Your John may be doing bad right now but you should have seen my Rick a few years ago when he ... but now after this and that treatment, you wouldn't ever know ...!" The thing is that while our intentions are right, Rick may not like to be reminded of his past, especially not publicly. I also think of us. As middle-aged (and maybe older) adults (baby-boomers), we all have 'skeletons' in our closets that we would rather not have brought out by our parents at a public function. Competitive politicians feel not scruples at dissing their opponents by bringing up their (distant or not so distant) past in order to boost themselves that is, until someone does it to them!
Here is a true story on the subject:
Rabbi Blauser once invited Rabbi Aharon Bakst to eat lunch at his home. Since Rabbi Blauser's wife was sick in bed, a poor maid served the meal. They heard Mrs Blauser call out to the maid, "Have you served the fish and meat?" The maid replied that she had.
The truth however was that the maid had only served them bread and soup, having maybe taken the fish and meat for herself. Although Rabbi Blauser heard the maid lie, he did not mention anything to his wife so as not to embarrass the maid (Kochvai ohr, vol 2, p.16)
It is important to notice also that the rabbi did not publicly embarrass the maid by giving her a tongue lash in front of his guest. Of course, he might have spoken to her later,and maybe hired another maid in the future.
HAVE A MEANINGFUL
SEDER WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS.