Towards the beginning of Parshat Kedoshim we find the prohibition against placing a stumbling block before the blind. Less famous is the beginning of that verse (19:14) “Do not curse the deaf.” There is a difference of opinion as to the meaning of this verse, and why the Torah singled out the deaf for mention in regards to this prohibition.
Ramban suggests that the Torah frames these interpersonal obligations in terms of when it is most likely to be violated. For instance, we are mandated not to oppress any fellow Jew, yet the Torah framed this prohibition in reference to widows, orphans and strangers because they are most vulnerable populations. Similarly, it is prohibited to curse any Jew, and the Torah framed this prohibition in connection with the deaf, because people are more likely to curse the deaf with a sense of impunity.
The Rambam in his Sefer Hamitzvot explains otherwise. He explains that the real reason that cursing someone is prohibited is because of the negative impact that cursing has on the perpetrator. From his rational perspective the Rambam is most concerned about the damage that such behavior has on the person doing the cursing. Speaking is such a way is vile and base, it will turn that person into a coarse and insensitive human being.
We need to keep in mind both of these perspectives. We need to be careful how we treat all people, and be especially sensitive to those who are most vulnerable. At the same time let us remember the Rambam’s perspective the next time we feel like cursing out the driver in front of us in a fit of road rage. That person will not hear what we say, s/he will be deaf to our curse. But such speech and behavior will nonetheless have a negative impact on us- so is it really worth it?