Lashon HaRa

         Shabbat Shalom. How wonderful to be with Mosaic Law Congregation for my first Shabbat-the first of Gd willing 30 years together, one day at a time 😊.

         I want to briefly tie last week’s portion into this weeks’. Miriam and Aaron spoke against the Cushite woman whom their brother Moses married. Miriam was stricken with tzaraat and Moses prayed for her healing. One can link Moses’ actions in Shelach Lecha with Korach. Because Moses’ own brother and sister spoke against him, it opened the door for Moses’ cousin Korach to “take others” who had different agendas and to bring them all together against Moses. Two people engaging in lashon hara created the opportunity for Korach, Datan, Aviram, On and 250 priests to conspire against him. Things left unchecked tend to snowball until it’s too late.

         Sir Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ z”l has the following words about lashon hara. He writes “You should practice zero tolerance toward lashon hara. Allowing people to speak badly about one another will eventually destroy the integrity of the group. Evil speech generates negative energies. Within the group it sows the seeds of distrust and envy. Directed outside the group it can lead to arrogance, self-righteousness, racism and prejudice, all of which are fatal to the moral credibility of any team. Whether or not you are the leader of such a group, you must politely make it clear that you will have nothing to do with this kind of speech and that it has no place in your conversations.”[1]

         As your rabbi, I will have a zero-tolerance policy for lashon hara. Negative energy can increase exponentially, skyrocketing until it is out of control. We must distance ourselves from the behavior taken by Korach and his assembly. The Chofetz Chaim teaches that lashon hara is the most difficult commandments to avoid, [2]so we have to work extra scrupulously to avoid it. Let us do our part to be a Kehilah Kedoshah, a holy community, through watching what we say and treating each other with kindness and respect.


[1] Miriam and Lashon Hara (sefaria.org)

[2] Chofetz Chaim, Introduction to the Laws of the Prohibition of Lashon Hara and Rechilut, Positive Commandments 13 (sefaria.org)

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