Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 63:1

סִימָן סג – אָסוּר לְהוֹנוֹת בִּדְבָרִים וְלִגְנֹב דַּעַת הַבְּרִיּוֹת

Chapter 63: It is Prohibited to Use Hurtful Speech
or to Misinform People

א: כשם שאונאה אסורה במקח וממכר, כך אסורה אונאה בדברים, שנאמר ולא תונו איש את עמיתו ויראת מאלהיך, זו אונאת דברים. וגדולה אונאת דברים מאונאת ממון, שזה נתן להשבון וזה לא נתן להשבון, זה בממונו וזה בגופו. והצועק על אונאת דברים, נענה מיד. וצריך לזהר ביותר מאונאת אשתו, שלא לצערה בדברים, לפי שהאשה רכה בטבע, ועל צער מעט היא בוכה, והשם יתברך מקפיד על הדמעות, ושערי דמעות לא ננעלו

Just as wronging others [ona’ah] is forbidden in business dealings, so it is prohibited to be hurtful [ona’ah] with speech, as it says (Vayiqra 25:17): “A person should not wrong/hurt his colleague, and you shall fear your G-d.” This [refers to] hurtful speech. Wronging someone by words is a greater [sin] than cheating in money, because: (1) [money] is returnable,  but [words] can not be returned [taken back]; and (2)  [money] involves one’s property but words involve one’s self.

The one who cries [to G-d] about hurtful speech is answered immediately.

One needs to be especially careful about wronging his wife, and not distress her by speech, because a woman has a sensitive nature, and in mild distress she cries, and Hashem, may He be blessed, is strict about tears, and “The gate of tears is never locked.” (Berakhos 32b)

The previous chapter was about ona’as mamon, cheating with respect to money. This chapter is on ona’as devarim, hurtful words, in addition to lying, intentionally misleading, and defrauding. The fact that both are called “ona’ah” puts a perspective on both prohibitions.

The closing warning, that all these highfalutin ideas about how to speak to others even applies to one’s wife — who might be taken for granted but who would care more than other people about her husband’s put-downs — is quite poignant.

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