MISHNA: Just as there is a prohibition against exploitation [ona’a] in buying and selling, so is there ona’a in statements, i.e., verbal mistreatment. The mishna proceeds to cite examples of verbal mistreatment. One may not say to a seller: For how much are you selling this item, if he does not wish to purchase it. He thereby upsets the seller when the deal fails to materialize. The mishna lists other examples: If one is a penitent, another may not say to him: Remember your earlier deeds. If one is the child of converts, another may not say to him: Remember the deeds of your ancestors, as it is stated: “And a convert shall you neither mistreat, nor shall you oppress him” (Exodus 22:20).
GEMARA: The Sages taught: It is written: “And you shall not mistreat [tonu] one man his colleague; and you shall fear your God, for I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 25:17). The tanna explains: The verse is speaking with regard to verbal mistreatment. The baraita proceeds: Do you say that it is speaking of verbal mistreatment [be’ona’at devarim], or perhaps it is speaking only with regard to monetary exploitation [be’ona’at mammon]? When it says in a previous verse: “And if you sell to your colleague an item that is sold, or acquire from your colleague’s hand, you shall not exploit [tonu] his brother” (Leviticus 25:14), monetary exploitation is explicitly stated. How then do I realize the meaning of the verse: “And you shall not mistreat one man his colleague”? It is with regard to verbal mistreatment. How so? If one is a penitent, another may not say to him: Remember your earlier deeds. If one is the child of converts, another may not say to him: Remember the deed of your ancestors. If one is a convert and he came to study Torah, one may not say to him: Does the mouth that ate unslaughtered carcasses and animals that had wounds that would have caused them to die within twelve months [tereifot], and repugnant creatures, and creeping animals, comes to study Torah that was stated from the mouth of the Almighty? If torments are afflicting a person, if illnesses are afflicting him, or if he is burying his children, one may not speak to him in the manner that the friends of Job spoke to him: “Is not your fear of God your confidence, and your hope the integrity of your ways? Remember, I beseech you, whoever perished, being innocent?” (Job 4:6–7). Certainly you sinned, as otherwise you would not have suffered misfortune.