Torah Portion: Mishpatim
Do not hurt the feelings of a foreigner (Shemos 22:20).
It is a negative commandment that we not mistreat a [Jewish convert], not even verbally, nor to shame him verbally, as it is written: Do not hurt the feelings of a foreigner (Shemos 22:20). Although we are forbidden to do this towards any Jew, and a righteous convert becomes a full-fledged Jew once he enters the Jewish faith, nevertheless Scripture adds a special warning about the convert—in fact, this warning is repeated in twenty-one other places—because he is more likely to be anguished, since he does not have any relatives defending his honor. Another reason: There is concern that his humiliation might drive him to revert to his old ways.
Among the roots of the mitzvah, aside from what we have already written above, is the aim that we control our urges and not do whatever we feel like, merely because we have the power to do evil. The Torah therefore admonishes that we not cause any suffering at all, not even verbal, to this type of person, who has no one to aid and support him. We are to treat him as an equal. With such guidelines we will acquire a much purer soul; one that is adorned and decorated with the finest traits and worthy of receiving the good. In this manner Hashem’s will, which is to bestow good, will be fulfilled in us.
This commandment applies in all places and at all times, to both men and women. One who transgresses this and shames [a convert], violates a negative commandment.