Unforgivable Curses: The Power of Words

"Avada Kedavra's a curse that needs a powerful bit of magic behind it — you could all get your wands out and point them at me and say the words, and I doubt I'd get so much as a nosebleed." — Alastor Moody, HP GoF

The Three Unforgivable Curses:

  1. The Imperius Curse (Imperio)
    Description: Causes the victim to perform unquestioned bidding of the caster
  2. The Cruciatus Curse (Crucio)

    Description: Inflicts excruciating pain on recipient of the curse (tortures them)

  3. The Killing Curse (Avada Kedavra)

    Description: Causes instant and painless death

Prof. Moody: "And they are so named? "

Hermione: "Because they are unforgivable. The use of any one of them will...."

Prof. Moody: "Earn you a one-way ticket to Azkaban."

(ג) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִ֣י א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר׃
(3) God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
(כא) מָ֣וֶת וְ֭חַיִּים בְּיַד־לָשׁ֑וֹן וְ֝אֹהֲבֶ֗יהָ יֹאכַ֥ל פִּרְיָֽהּ׃
(21) Death and life are in the power of the tongue; Those who love it will eat its fruit.

אמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב (ויקרא יד, ב) זאת תהיה תורת המצורע זאת תהיה תורתו של מוציא שם רע ואמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב (קהלת י, יא) אם ישוך הנחש בלא לחש ואין יתרון לבעל הלשון . . . (משלי יח, כא) מות וחיים ביד לשון וכי יש יד ללשון

Reish Lakish quotes, "This is the ritual (lit. Torah) for a leper..." this is in reference to the law (lit. Torah) for one who speaks Lashon Harah And Reish Lakish asks, "Where do we learn this?" "If the serpent bites before it is charmed, the charmer has no advantage." . . . Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that indulge it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:21)

(כו) וַיַּשְׁבַּ֣ע יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִ֖יא לֵאמֹ֑ר אָר֨וּר הָאִ֜ישׁ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר יָקוּם֙ וּבָנָ֞ה אֶת־הָעִ֤יר הַזֹּאת֙ אֶת־יְרִיח֔וֹ בִּבְכֹר֣וֹ יְיַסְּדֶ֔נָּה וּבִצְעִיר֖וֹ יַצִּ֥יב דְּלָתֶֽיהָ׃ (כז) וַיְהִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה אֶת־יְהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ וַיְהִ֥י שָׁמְע֖וֹ בְּכָל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
(26) At that time Joshua pronounced this oath: “Cursed of the LORD be the man who shall undertake to fortify this city of Jericho: he shall lay its foundations at the cost of his first-born, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest.” (27) The LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.
תני תנא קמיה דרב נחמן בר יצחק כל המלבין פני חבירו ברבים כאילו שופך דמים א"ל שפיר קא אמרת דחזינא ליה דאזיל סומקא ואתי חוורא אמר ליה אביי לרב דימי במערבא במאי זהירי א"ל באחוורי אפי דאמר רבי חנינא הכל יורדין לגיהנם חוץ משלשה

The Gemara relates that the tanna who recited mishnayot and baraitot in the study hall taught a baraita before Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak: Anyone who humiliates another in public, it is as though he were spilling blood. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said to him: You have spoken well, as we see that after the humiliated person blushes, the red leaves his face and pallor comes in its place, which is tantamount to spilling his blood. Abaye said to Rav Dimi: In the West, i.e., Eretz Yisrael, with regard to what mitzva are they particularly vigilant? Rav Dimi said to him: They are vigilant in refraining from humiliating others, as Rabbi Ḥanina says: Everyone descends to Gehenna except for three.

לפיכך נברא אדם יחידי ללמדך שכל המאבד נפש אחת מישראל מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו איבד עולם מלא וכל המקיים נפש אחת מישראל מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו קיים עולם מלא
The court tells the witnesses: Therefore, Adam the first man was created alone, to teach you that with regard to anyone who destroys one soul from the Jewish people, i.e., kills one Jew, the verse ascribes him blame as if he destroyed an entire world, as Adam was one person, from whom the population of an entire world came forth. And conversely, anyone who sustains one soul from the Jewish people, the verse ascribes him credit as if he sustained an entire world.
אמר רב יהודה אמר רב רוב בגזל ומיעוט בעריות והכל בלשון הרע בלשון הרע סלקא דעתך אלא אבק לשון הרע:
Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: The majority of people suc-cumb to sin with regard to robbery, and a minority of people succumb to sin with regard to sexual matters, and everyone succumbs to sin with regard to malicious speech. The Gemara asks: Can it enter your mind that all people sin with regard to malicious speech? The Gemara answers: Rather, Rav was referring to uttering a hint of malicious speech.