Tag Archives: Slander

Parshat Devarim (2011)

Parshat Devarim
Deuteronomy 1 – 3:22

The Ill Effects of Grumbling and Complaining in the Family

The name of the book is Devarim, meaning “words” or “sayings.” Devarim (Deuteronomy) can be considered the last will and testament of Moses. Its purpose is to explain and highlight the experiences and revelations that took place in the desert. This book opens up with the words:

“These are the words

that Moses spoke

to all Israel.”

| Eleh hadevarim

| asher diber Moshe

| el-kol-Yisra’el

Deuteronomy 1:1

This tells us a few things. First, that this was a spoken message; we learn that this book contains an oration by Moses that takes place over the last five weeks of his life. Secondly, the choice of both the words “devarim/words” and “diber/spoke,” instead of the more common “amar/he said,” shows a certain urgency and admonishment in his voice. He didn’t just communicate a message, he had words with them.

In order to understand this book we must recognize that this book is an explanation of the Torah, thus it is referred to in the Talmud as “Mishneh Torah;” meaning “the Review (Repetition) of Torah” and “the Explanation of the Torah.” I believe the support of this view lays in verse 5:

“By the side of the Jordan river

in the land of Moab

Moses began to explain the Torah,

and this is what he said…”

| Be’ever haYarden

| be’eretz Mo’av

| ho’il Moshe be’er et-haTorah

| hazot lemor

Deuteronomy 1:5

Moses has gone as far as he can with the people, they are about to enter into The Promised Land. This oration is meant to remind them of what they went through in the process of becoming a people, and to clarify what they needed to know in order to exist as a functioning society.

shockedexpressionAs we get into this parsha I want us to take a good look at some details that can easily be overlooked. Often times when something is being explained a second time we tend to gloss over it, kind of like we do genealogies. However, even these seemingly pointless repetitions are rich with truth.

Right off we start hearing a list of places discussed; the Aravah, the Sea of Reeds, Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazerot and Di-Zihav. We should notice how matter-of -fact Moses is in mentioning these places. In fact most of the situations and places mentioned are discussed just as bluntly. But why? The account of Moses comes so off the cuff because he was there, it comes out with a tone of “I was there with you, we went through this together; I don’t need to remind you.”

Furthermore, it appears to me that Moses merely mentions these places through nicknames because his intent is to use this opportunity to encourage the people, not to chastise them. I know it sounds like I’m going out on a limb here, but we have to recognize what being “b’midbar/in the wilderness” represents. The Targum Onkelos (Aramaic translation) and the Sifri understand the wilderness as the Wilderness of Sin, where the people rebelled and griped against Hashem. However, we are not sure exactly where some of these places are and what they are in reference to. In fact Rashi quotes Rabbi Yochanan saying, “We have reviewed the entire Bible, but we have found no place named Tofel or Lavan!” Though it appears that many of these places are in reference to locations where the people sinned against Hashem. Rashi says that Tofel and Lavan refer to the complains of the people against the manna, that Hazerot refers to the place of Korach’s rebellion and Di-Zahav was the place the Golden Calf was forged (also supported by Targum; Sifri; Berakhoth 32a).

It is a beautiful idea to me that Moses shows such restraint here, in that he refuses to elaborate on situations that were known to all the people, in order to keep from embarrassing them! To me it also means that we should be reading this book of Devarim much more tenderly. So often have I heard the words of this book thrown around by people of all walks of life in such a harsh and rebuking manner. We should be reading this book more lovingly and patiently. In fact the tone of Moses shows even more tenderness and gentle wisdom in his recounting of certain tragic events that took place in the desert.

Complaining is Equal to Slander

One of the events that Moses feels that he must touch upon is the incident of the people refusing to ascend to The Land. In verse 26 we read:

“And you did not wish to ascend,

and you rebelled against the word of

Hashem, your G-d

You slandered in your tents

and said, “Because of Hashem’s hatred for us

did he take us out of the land of Egypt.”

| Velo avitem la’alot

| vatamru et-pi

| Hashem El’oheichem

| Vateragnu ve’aholeichem

| vatomeru besin’at Hashem otanu

| hotzi’anu me’erets Mitzrayim

Deuteronomy 1:26-27

Here, as Moses is describing this situation from his perspective he used the word “slander” in order to describe the kind of groaning the Children of Israel engaged in. The word ragan is a very interesting word. It means to grumble, complain and slander. In Mishleh (Proverbs) we gain some insight into what it means to yirgaron (engage in grumbling) and what effect it has. Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a complainer (nirgan) are like blows and they descend to the chambers of one’s innards.” You will find another identical verse in Proverbs 26:22. Based on the commentary of Yalchut HaMachiri we understand that this verse is an example of how complaining is an attempt for when backed up into a difficult situation to try to overcome ones challenger by attacker a person at the heart of their character; instead of defending ones self, to complain/slander is to tear down the other. In the Torah we understand the innards, belly or stomach to be the seat of the emotions, so when one attacks with grumbling they seek to hit another at the “heart” of their emotional core. To him ‘um where it hurts. This is in effect what the People were doing when they said “Because he hated us he brought us out of the land of Egypt.” This was going against the words of Hashem that because of his ahavat olam, because of His Everlasting Love for Israel He brought them out of the land of Egypt to be a G-d to us.

Complaining and Duplicitous Nature

Proverbs 16:28 gives us further insight saying, “A duplicitous man incites strife, and a complainer estranges a ruler (v’nirgan maferid aluf).” Complaining “estranges” (maferid, root perek) means to disconnect or separate. But from whom? From ones aluf, which means ones commanding officer (in modern Hebrew it means Major-General) or champion. In a biblical context it can not only means leader, but also friend or companion. Who are our greatest champions than our friends? And what better leader is there than one who can be relied upon to rally to our aid? A complainer is one who through their words attempts to disconnect us from our source of strength and inspiration; to divide and conquer. It is an attempt to alienate us from those who really can help us the most! In this case it was to estrange the people from G-d.

What is intriguing to me is the verse pairs the complainer with the “ish tahefachot/ duplicitous man” who “incites strife.” Through out our previous weeks parsha studies we became familiar with the strife against Moses, as he was the representative of G-d’s will. Israel showed the clear signs of a duplicitous nature in that they complained about their dwelling in the wilderness and its horrible conditions, but when given the opportunity to escape that situation they refused to get up and get out of it. They complained about how sick and tired they were of the manna that they said was too light and tasteless, but when faced with fruit of size and abundance like they had never known they weren’t compelled to leave their displeasure behind and grasp the bounty presented to them!

That is the key to understanding a duplicitous person and complainer; they don’t really know what they want. They are tehafuchot, meaning unreliable and deceitful. This is because they are of a temperament that is hefek (the root word of tehafuchot), meaning contrary or opposite; they thrive on negativity. They are unreliable and cannot be trusted because they hafak, meaning revert or invert; they tell you one thing then say or do something completely opposite. I can tell you from personal experience that when one encounters a complainer or finds ones self to be overwhelmed by grumbling the situation is almost always tied to an insincere and half-hearted desire to resolve the cause of ones suffering. My best advice at this point in my life is to urge people to fight against a wishy-washy nature that keeps one in misery.

Grumbling in the Family: It’s Debilitating Effects

It appears to me in my reading of this parsha that Moses does seem to understand where the people were coming from, in that he listened to their sentiments. We read Moses quoting the people’s words, “Anah anachnu olim / Where shall we ascend? / acheinu hemasu et-levavenu / our brothers have melted our hearts.” (v.28). The word “brothers” here is not just figurative. In modern Hebrew some people use the word “achi” (my brother) liberally, but in this case here it in fact means relatives as each tribe sent out a representative scout to report back to their family/clans about the nature of the Promised Land.

So often I have seen and experienced the effects of disabling negativity of family members. It is a true tragedy in this world that so often people are hindered and harmed by the words of those closest to them. In so many families people literally kill each other with their words. But if we think about it, it is only those who are closest and dearest to use the have the device and opportunity to truly harm someone in the furthest depths of their soul. To a point the Children of Israel were correct here in saying in their defense, “How can we get up when even our own brothers are the ones knocking down our hopes?” We must be careful in our conduct and words to not victimize or become the victims of negativity of our loved ones.

Don’t Be So Impressed!

In closing, I want to point out where I think Moses not only shows his understanding and sympathetic nature, but also his wisdom in understanding the minutest workings of the psyche. In verse 29 we read, “Va’omar alechem lo-ta’artzun velo-tir’un mehem / I said to you, ‘Don’t be so impressed! Don’t be afraid of them!'” Who is being talked about? The people of Canaan; the supposed giants that dwelt in the Promised Land. Notice that my understanding of lo-ta’artzun, is “don’t be so impressed.” I also believe my view is supported by HaKethav VeHaKabbalah and Rav Hirsch. Some people would like to translate this verse as “Don’t be afraid, don’t fear.” However, we can see the text goes on to say “velo-tir’un / don’t be afraid,” which is a modified form of the common everyday phrase “al tira / Don’t be afraid!” or “Don’t worry!” So the first words lo-ta’artzun naturally mean something different. My understanding of this is based upon the fact to ha-aratz is to be respectful of, to admire and venerate.

“Don’t be so impressed, don’t fear them!” Here the children of Israel allowed themselves to become so impressed by the seeming greatness of these people that they became weak in the knees and mentally bowed at the feet of their adversaries. They were intimidated by the size inhabitants of the land and the height of the walls of the cities. It is one thing to have to deal with the other people lifting up your adversary, but it is much worse when one begins to believe the propaganda and see their adversary as better than ones self. Moses understood that the people would become disheartened and demoralized if they began to allow the situation and people to leave them with a sense of awe and fearful admiration. My friends, we need to not be so impressed by the bedazzlement of the challenges before us. Sometimes we make them out to be so much bigger than they are. Sometimes we hand the crown of victory to the opponent in intimidation.

Parshat Metzora (2011)

Parshat Metzora
Leviticus 14:1 – 15:33

Torah Provides a Reasonable Way, Even When It Doesn’t Provide a Reason

And Hashem spoke to Moses, saying:

| Vayedaber Hashem el-Moshe lemor:

This shall be the law of the leper,

| Zot tihyeh torat ha-metzora,

on the day he is purified

| beyom tahorato

he shall be brought to the priest.”

| vehuva el-hakohen.

Leviticus 14:1-2

This week’s parsha begins fully wrapped up in continuing the topic of tzaraat, a unique form of skin ailment akin to leprosy that happens on account of gossip and slander, which was discussed last week (see Parshat Tazria) Our parsha is named metzora, meaning “a leper,” and begins by discussing the topic of purifying one from this condition. This is done through ritual sacrifice.

As we begin to discuss the various sacrifices though out the Torah one can easily become overwhelmed by the other-worldliness of the entire practice or sacrificial worship. And in a day and age where we offer up prayers in place of sacrifice (Hosea 14:3), the need to understand the sacrifices seems almost unnecessary.

To be unaware concerning the elements of these offerings is not necessarily something that our rabbis would fault of us for, to know them is no more necessary than the need to understand them. And when it comes to understand the symbolism of the sacrificial items, the general rabbinic position is that it is not necessary to comprehend them.

In a translation of the German commentary on Leviticus by the late 19th century/early 20th century rabbinic scholar Rabbi David Tzvi Hoffman, Prof. Ed Greenstein of Tel Aviv University brings down the statement “Actually, we should not delve into the underlying foundation of the laws of purity and impurity. The Sages said that these laws are rules and edicts of the King, and it is not for us to ponder them.” (Leviticus, translated from the German [into Hebrew] by Tzvi Har-Shefer and Aaron Lieberman, Mosad ha-Rav Kook, Jerusalem, 1966, Vol. 1, p. 213).

This is a very typical attitude, that these commands regarding purity are statutes which are beyond comprehension and reasoning. We do them out of faith, discipline, love and obedience; and nothing more. In the mind of traditionalists, for all we know the specifics are arbitrary; and if they are that’s okay, as long we are doing what’s expected of us.

This sentiment is hinted at in Midrash Rabba 14:1 when it begins to deal with the topic of purity, comments on how the purity of man is detailed immediately after defining the purity status of animals. Just as with animals, so with man; though we can define what makes an animal “clean” or “unclean,” we aren’t provided any reasons for their purity and appropriateness. That doesn’t mean that the rabbis and scholars have not spend endless amounts of time pondering the symbolism behind the reasons. This is admitted by Rabbi Hoffman himself as he continues on in his statement against scrutinizing for significance with the words, “However, many great rabbis, such as Maimonides, Nahmanides and others, have tried to find a rationale for these laws.”

The Elements of Purification

As we read on in our parsha, we are told that the priest goes to the person with the tzaraat and looks to see if their wound has healed (Leviticus 14:3). If the affliction appears to have healed they are told to take two living kosher birds, cedar wood, crimson fabric and hyssop and cleanse the inflicted. (v. 4)

If we look at the description on the elements used for purification of the person inflicted with tzaraat as described by Rashi we can see that there appears to be some real practical reasons for the ritual items that are employed. The Rashi commentary reads as follows:

[Living] Pure [Birds]: because afflictions of tzaraat befall people as a result of their speaking lishon hara (gossip; slander), which is the act of babbling words. Therefore, for his purification this person is required to bring birds, which babble constantly with chirping sounds.” צפרים חיות] טהרות: … לפי שהנגעים באין על לשון הרע, שהוא מעשה פטפוטי דברים, לפיכך הוזקקו לטהרתו צפרים, שמפטפטין תמיד בצפצוף קול.

Radak is of this opinion as well, further suggesting that type of bird actually used was one whose chirping seems to mimic human speech.

In the ritual of purification one bird is slaughtered in a bowl of spring water, (v. 5) another is set aside to be released into the wild.

The Kli Yakar says that two birds are used as examples of two types of speech: evil speech which should be put down, and positive speech which should be let loose to proliferating in the world

The living bird is dipped in the bowl of water and blood, along with the cedar wood, crimson fabric, and hyssop. (v. 6) The person is sprinkled with the mixture from the bundle seven times, the person is provisionally proclaimed clean and then the living bird is released to go free. (v. 7) Rashi continues to explain the other elements as follows:

Cedar wood: because this is the affliction that befalls someone that is haughty.”

ועץ ארז: לפי שהנגעים באין על גסות הרוח

The cedars are regarded in the scriptures for their great height. Through out the Ketuvim (Biblical Books of the Writings), especially in Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs they are spoken of for being majestic and lofty (see Song of Songs 5:15). Though being high and mighty is a good trait to have as a tree, it’s a poor attitude to have in a person! It reminds us of how not to be.

Rashi expounds:

A strip of crimson [wool] – What can remedy so that he be healed? If he humbles himself like a worm and like a hyssop.” ושני תולעת ואזב: מה תקנתו ויתרפא, ישפיל עצמו מגאותו, כתולעת וכאזוב

Rashi points out to us that that crimson wool, tola’at, is dyed crimson by means of the crimson beetle which is also known as the tola’at. It is ground down finely and used as a powdered dye for fabric. Hyssop is lowly weed of the ground, a flowering weed that grows a large spiny shaft like a reed. Rashi suggest we should lower ourselves as low as the creeping insects of the ground and the humble weeds of the field in order to be cured. It reminds us of how we should be.

There is also another way of understanding the piece of crimson wool that Rashi points out at the end of his commentary for Leviticus 14:4, according to the understanding of the Sifra 14:1:

Together with crimson: the tongue of wool died crimson.

ושני תולעת: לשון של צמר צבוע זהורית

It could be that the piece of wool is to remind someone of what got them into trouble in the first place and what needs to be cleansed first of all is the tongue; then the body through the bathing, washing, and shaving (v. 8-9); and lastly the soul and conscience of the person which is completed eight days later when the sacrifices are offered in the Mishkan (the Tabernacle). (v.10)

We aren’t sure exactly of the meaning, but the only other traditions we have of a red fabric used in ritual sacrifice is during the days of the Temple when the red thread was tied at the Temple and and on the scapegoat of Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement discussed just two chapters away (see Leviticus 16); and during the purification with the red heifer (see Numbers 19:6).  It could be a symbol of complete repentance, for which G-d promises in Isaiah 1:18, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

What ever the meaning is, what we find is that later on is that the person goes up to the Mishkan eight days later, the amount of time that it originally took to inaugurate the Mishkan and later the Holy Temple. They person is to offer up 2 unblemished male lambs, 1 yearling ewe lamb, 3 1/10th portions of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil and 1 log oil. These items are offered up as guilt offerings, sin offerings, and olah (elective burnt offerings of worship).

Lastly the person is anointed on the right ear, right thumb and right big toe (v. 17) in the same manner as Aharon (Aaron) the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and his sons were when they were consecrated and ordained into office. (see Exodus 29:20) It appears that this ritual comes together by making a person once again holy and consecrated for holy words, deeds and actions.

Now looking back at the ritual, we can see that there is a lot of significance and rich symbolism that we can find in the items pertaining to this rite of ritual purity. Will all this depth how is it that “stubborn” people like me can still insist that the items and elements are, for all intensive purposes, arbitrary?

It’s because the Torah gives us another way of doing it. One of the problems with the ritual was that it appears costly. Crimson dye was worth its weight in gold, cedar of Lebanon was expensive for one to get their hands on, and the many sacrifices were also costly. So the Torah continues on and says to us in verse 21Ve’im dal hu ve’eyn yado maseget…/ and if he is a poor man who cannot obtain (afford)” these things then he is to offer up 1 male lamb, 1/10th part of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, 1 log oil, 2 turtle doves or young pigeons. He offers up these various items as guilt offering, sin offering and olah burnt offering; three offerings just like other method given to us.

If the items of the ritual and sacrifice were important in themselves then there would only be one way of doing it. Instead we are shown another way, the Torah is responsive to the needs of individuals. And in being sensitive to the possible limitations of an individual it sets up an alternative that is actually feasible for the person of modest means. This is possible because the ritual and sacrifices are not a bribe. G-d does not need anything from us, instead what He really wants is us to turn away from our wrong doing which is what repentance is (see Isaiah 1:11,16). Nor is it alchemy, there is not any magical or even medicinal qualities in the items that cause a cure in either method.

The reasoning for going through this purification is higher than any symbolism held in the ritual items themselves. The meaning lies in the recognition of the things the two methods have in common, found in the meaning behind the differing offerings. The purpose of the ritual is merely a vehicle towards rehabilitating a person in order to return them into good standing in their own conscience, through the guilt offering; with others, through acknowledging wrongdoing with a sin offering; and returning them to a place of closeness to G-d where they can worship with integrity, through the olah burnt offering.

When we step beyond trying to rationalize the sacrificial worship and accept it on it’s own terms we are not just throwing ourselves into blind faith. What we are saying is that these rituals were just a choreographed way of reconciliation provide by G-d for man that was within his means, not a choreographed way of using our means to make G-d reconcile with us.

Parshat Tazria (2011)

Parshat Tazria
Leviticus 12:1 – 13:59

Gossip: The Worse Kind of Contagion

As my computer sadly passed away this week, it’s been hard to put a study together. But I came across this entry in an old blog from a few years ago that I found interesting and wanted to share with you: “ (April 2007) – This week was such a tiring week. Finally I got to spend the last few hours of shabbos kicking a back and considering where my heart is at. I guess for the first time this parsha is taking on some deeper meaning for me, so I just have to share it, this is my shabbos ‘quickie.’”

And Hashem spoke to Moses, saying

‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying:

If a woman conceives

and gives birth to a boy…’”

|Vayedaber Hashem el-Moshe lemor:

| Daber el-benei Yisra’el lemor:

| Ishah ki tazria

| veyaldah zachar…

Leviticus 12:1

Our parsha is named after this word, tazria, meaning “she conceives.” It begins this way because it takes up issues of ritual purity. It discusses three main means of ritual impurity: 1) childbirth, 2) skin condition, and 3) clothing. Our parsha begins by immediately touching on the first category.

For all my friends of kabbalistic (mystical) interest, I find it interesting that this parsha follows a ChaGaT (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet) breakdown; the three central modalities of energy and mindset, and the pillars of kabbalistic cosmology. Childbirth, is an act of chesed (kindness); skin condition (leprosy), is a display of Gevurah/Din (Judgment); and clothing, as a display of Tiferet (harmony, understood as Mercy).

The first form of impurity is something that comes about by a pure form of chesed (loving kindness), through giving birth to a life that is conceived out of love and intimacy. It is caused by no fault at all, it merely is a natural occurrence of life. The second is by leprosy, which we understand to cause a noticeable impurity, and our sages understand it as directly connected to slander in our biblical narrative. The third is an impurity by clothing, it symbolizes to me the impurity that comes from tolerating an external wrong that can pollute us (turning a blind eye; being the enabler).

This week I want to just touch on one single point. I feel that explaining the issues of family purity concerning childbirth and such is best explained by a woman, as I have always been very impressed by the religious women of my community that enlightened me on these topics. I feel that I cannot do justice to it. And for lack of time I will not touch on the topic of impure clothing. I would like to examine the issue of contamination by skin condition.

When we discuss the topic of leprosy within the Torah we must understand that we are talking about something that is grave on heart level. We are not discussing the condition caused by the germ mycobacterium leprae, we are talking about an illness that starts on a spiritual level. This condition of leprosy is understood by our sages to be a physical manifestation of a spiritual defect being made manifest in the physical body. It is a symptom of a spiritual fault displayed in the body, in the same way a psychosomatic symptom is a display of an abnormality in the psyche. Furthermore our sages understood this as being a condition that occurred in people of a high spiritual intuition, they are so attuned to their spiritual state that their fault manifests in their body.

Our example of this is shown in Parshat BeHa’alotecha (see Numbers chapter 12), Miriam slanders Moses personally by speaking ill of his choice of a wife, and goes on to challenge his authority and connection to the Divine. She stands before the Presence of Hashem at the Tent of Meeting with her brothers Moses and Aaron, and when it lifts she is covered in leprosy. It is also supported by the Oral Torah; Rav Yohannan says in the name of Rav Yosef Ben Zimra that anyone who engages in lashon hara (slander, gossip) will be inflicted with tzaraat, a skin disease (leprosy).

Here in Parshat Tazria I got stuck on the key words, noticing I had never really examined them before. In Leviticus 13:2 we read:

If a person will have on the skin of his flesh

a se’et, or a sapachat, or a baheret,

and it is [suspect of being] a tzaraat (leprosy) on the skin

he shall be brought to Aaron

the Kohen (high priest) or one of his sons,

the priests.”

| Adam ki-yihyeh ve’or-besar

| se’et o sapachat o vaheret

| vehayah ve’or-besaro lenega tsara’at

| vehuva el-Aharon

| hakohen o el-achad mibanav

| hakohanim

All three of these forms of blemishes are spoken about by name, as terms without description. We are told here that each one of them should be examined to see if they are truly a tzaraat. In these three descriptions I see hints to three different types of negative personalities we should try to look out for lest we also be guilty of slander and gossip, negativity and verbal doubt:

  • Se-et(white blotch)– this category, like the other two are white blemishes (Lev. 13:10 ; and Talmud, Negaim 1:1); many sages suggest that the word is derived from the root nasa, which means “raised.” (variants of this word are used in Gensis 4:7; and 49:3) Despite this linguistic connection being made our sages by and large tell us that this does not mean the skin is raises, (Sifra, Rashi, GR”A, Ralbag, etc,) it merely appears to be elevated because the scar or blotch is opaque in color. This is like a person who thinks they are superior, that they are above their fellow, but in actuality its just an illusion.
  • Sepachat (discoloration) –the skin is slightly less white than a se’et (Shavuot 6b, Sifra, Radak)in this category the skin is actually raised; however, it is because it is a scab (Ibn Ezra) or there is an irruption under the skin, the mark is merely a manifestation of something wrong under the mark that is less noticeable. This is like a person who is puffed up in their personality, but it is merely an irruption of a scar or defect that cannot be seen on the surface; the outside looks relatively good in comparison to what’s beneath the surface.
  • Baheret(spot) – in Lev. 13:38-39 we explicitly see baheret described as a “spot,” Rashi confirms this. Ibn Ezra describes it as a highly visible spot, seen from a great distance. This is also reiterated by the Septuagint, which renders it as telaugema; a shinny spot visible from a great distance. It appears to be a indentation in the skin, however in Lev. 13:4 we see that it is merely an allusion of a penetration of the skin; this is because the skin in more translucent than the surrounding skin. This is like a person who slanders, showing exaggerated and baseless “wounds” that justify their negativity; they like to make it look worse than it really is.

If you haven’t figured out by now tzaraatis an infliction this is supposed to reflect the severity of gossip and slander; gossip is contagious like a disease, that we should look out for and stay clear of. It’s an affliction that is caused in order that one empathize with the hurt and pain that they have caused, its purpose is to cause the same form of alienation and irritation that evil words cause for others.

The Torah tells us the course of action once one suspect they are suffering from any one of these three traits; they are to allow themselves to be examined by the priests, and separated themselves from the community in order to purify themselves. So too on a personal level when we find these types of negative traits we must examine our ways and delve into soul searching repentance. We must, because left uncorrected these traits will inevitably only make us unable to approach people as a whole and dignified person!

Shabbat Shalom!

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