Torah Portion: Mishpatim
You shall not curse a leader among your people (Shemos 22:27).
It is a negative commandment to not curse the leader [of the people], as is written, You shall not curse a leader among your people (Shemos 22:27). The “leader” (nasi) mentioned in this verse refers to the king. But it also includes another type of leader of the Jews, and that is the head of the Great Sanhedrin, who is called the Nasi. For the intent of the verse is to exhort us regarding anybody who is a leader of the Jewish people, whether he is the head of the temporal dominion or the Torah dominion of the people.
Among the roots of the mitzvah is the idea that society cannot function without one of the people leading the others who will obey his instructions and decrees. People have different opinions and it is impossible for everyone to agree about everything, and as a result nothing can be accomplished [communally]. People therefore have no choice but to accept the opinion of one them, for good or for bad, in order to succeed and function in the world. At times his counsel and will bring great benefit and at times the opposite, but either way, it is better than strife which causes complete chaos. And since there is such great benefit from the appointment of one person—whether he is great in Torah and can lead us upon the pathways of our faith, or whether is great in his rule, to protect one person from another—it is proper and right that we not detract from his honor and that we not curse him so that we do not come to dissent with him. Even if it is not in his presence, the negative behavior that a person practices in private becomes his standard way. The destruction caused by discord is well-known.
This mitzvah applies to both men and woman, in the Land [of Israel] and wherever else we may be together with our king or with the head of the Great Sanhedrin.