Parashat Shemot: Calling a Jew: "Wicked"

[Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Shemot pp. 45-46]

The Gemara in Kiddushin (28a) gives clear halachic guidelines for one who calls another Jew by a disparaging name: "Someone who calls his fellow “wicked” will have his livelihood negatively affected (Rashi, Tosafot and Ri Ha-Zaken ibid.). Our Sages state it clearly: It is absolutely forbidden to call a fellow Jew "wicked." Referring to another Jew as evil is a type of forgery and falsification of reality, a shocking falsification. Rabbi David Tabil of Minsk, one of the great and first students of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin and author of "Nachalat David" on the Gemara, wrote a great philosophical book called "Beit David," in which he explained at length that the discord and fragmentation found in the Nation of Israel is also a denial of the unity of Hashem. A division within the Divine Presence is a division within "And I dwell within the Children of Israel" (Shemot 26:45 and Melachim 1 6:13). Our connection to the oneness of Hashem obligates the holy Nation of Israel to be united together in love, brotherhood, and friendship, tied tightly together like one person without any separation or division. In effect, the unity of the holy Nation of Israel testifies to the oneness of Hashem. In turn, the sin of dispute is truly like idol worship, since dispute is the opposite of unity, and it is as if the disputant testifies about himself that he does not have a part in the G-d of Israel (Beit David, darash 6 quoted in Olat Re'eiyah vol. 2, p. 468).
It is thereof not possible to have a reality in which one Jew calls another "wicked"! The Gemara in Sanhedrin (58b) does state, however, that "One who raises his hand against his fellow, even though he does not strike him, is called wicked," and it brings a proof from the verse (Shemot 2:13): "He [Moshe] said to the wicked one: Why would you strike your fellow?" If so, it appears that a reality does exist in which one Jew called another "wicked"?! But one must pay close attention to the words of the Gemara. It is true that he is called “wicked,” but this does not mean that it is permissible for one Jew to call his fellow Jew "wicked". Therefore, in the incident with Moshe Rabbenu, we learn that when one Jew was striking another and causing a division among Israel, he is referred to as “wicked” by the Torah, i.e. Hashem. We, however, are not to do the same. A similar example is found in the Gemara in Kiddushin (59a) which speaks of a person abandoning a cake in the public domain. A poor person notices it and wants to take it; but before he grabs it, another person jumps in front of him and snatches it. It is difficult to call him a thief, but he is referred to as “wicked.” This does not mean that it is permissible for one Jew to call another Jew "wicked", but only that his level is designated as wicked by Hashem.