In this week’s parsha, the Torah relates an incident of a Jewish person who curses Hashem. On hearing this, the Jewish people put him under guard pending Hashem’s decree regarding his punishment. Rashi emphasizes that he was placed alone. Since this incident occurred at the same time as that of the Jewish person who collected wood on Shabbos, who was also under guard, one might think that they were placed together. Rashi clarifies that they were not together; each sinner was confined by himself. According to the Sifsei Chachamim explaining Rashi, the person who collected the wood on Shabbos was clearly liable to be killed. The only question to be determined was the method that would be designated to carry out the sentence. For the one who cursed Hashem, it was the actual punishment that was in question. Had they been together, the one who cursed would think that he was also going to be killed, just as the one who collected wood. Since his sentence hadn’t yet been determined, this situation could have caused him pain for no reason.
The Chidushei Halev clarifies the tremendous lesson in this Sifsei Chachamim. This blasphemer was a wicked person. The reason that his punishment was in question was that when Beis Din puts someone to death that allows him to be forgiven. Moshe Rabbeinu was not sure this person deserved forgiveness. Even so, the Torah demands that no matter how wicked a person is, he may not be subjected to any level of unnecessary pain, even if it is only momentary.
The Medrash tells us that the descendants of Yaakov were punished for the pain that Yaakov caused Eisav when he took the brachos from their father Yitzchak. Why were Yaakov’s descendants punished? Yaakov was supposed to take the brachos, and he was commanded by his mother who was telling him the word of Hashem. The Chidushei Halev explains it is even to this level that we are held accountable when causing someone pain. Even if the action is justified, a person is still punished for causing pain.
We should recognize how careful we must be not to hurt others