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Is highlighting a person’s physical characteristic Lashon Hara?

Question:

I’m giving a shiur and my to’eles is to have my students remain attentive and to remember the particular gemorah, or even sugya. By having them visualize an abnormal physical characteristic of a person, who happens to be in the actual shiur (e.g., he has a very long nose or whatever abnormal bodily feature), I am confident students will not forget the sugya. I do solicit his permission to highlight this feature and he consents. He says he is not in any way offended. Is it considered Lashon hora to do so?

 

Answer:

Thank you for your question.

It is wonderful that you put much thought and effort into keeping your students entertained and interested. However, choose some other way to make your highlights and still keep yourself amusing.  If you have a whiteboard, you can make whatever amusing pictures on it, (I do this in class to occasionally keep students upbeat and interested).  Using a student by insulting him, regardless of what he will tell you, will be hurt by your making fun of a part of his body, and even asking him is only causing him to lie. (And any person who doesn’t mind being made fun of has serious psychological issues.) The fact that he said he doesn’t mind is only an attempt to keep some sort of pride that he still has left. Besides this, it is terrible chinuch that the teacher, who is supposed to be setting the example, to make outright fun of one of the students.

Best wishes

 

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