If you’ve spent any time in a schvitz or even just a gym locker room you’ve probably seen a fair number of naked bodies up close and personal. Does that embarrass you? Do you wonder if the naked people are embarrassed and just pretending not to be? The Lilith Blog has a fascinating discussion of what it means to be humiliated in the nude:Yesterdayâ€™s Daf (Bava Kama 86) considers the question of whether a naked person can be embarrassed. The Talmud begins by quoting a Braita which states, â€œIf one embarrasses someone while he is naked, he [the embarrasser] is liable, and embarrassing someone naked is not the same as embarrassing someone when he is clothedâ€¦. Our master said: If one embarrasses someone when he is naked, he is liable. But is a naked person capable of being embarrassed? (?×¢×¨×•× ×‘×¨ ×‘×•×©×ª ×”×•×) Rather, this refers to a case where the wind has bunched up his clothes and a person comes and lifts his clothing further, thereby embarrassing him.â€
The Talmud, although at first asserting that it is indeed possible to embarrass someone while that person is naked, goes on to question this assumption. As Rashi explains, â€œSince he does not care about walking around naked in front of others, what does he have to be embarrassed about?â€ Presumably a person who does not mind if others see him naked is immune to other peopleâ€™s opinions of him, and is therefore not susceptible to embarrassment. The Talmud is then left with the question as to why the Braita taught that a person is indeed liable for embarrassing someone who is naked, and concludes that this was a person who was at first only partially naked. The embarrasser comes along and exposes him even further, and thus he is considered to be liable.
Pronounced: TALL-mud, Origin: Hebrew, the set of teachings and commentaries on the Torah that form the basis for Jewish law. Comprised of the Mishnah and the Gemara, it contains the opinions of thousands of rabbis from different periods in Jewish history.