web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Power Of The Spoken Word


The-Shmuz

“Send forth menand let them spy out the land of Canaan that I give to the Children of Israel” – Bamidbar 13:2

 

The parshah of Shelach opens up with the story of the miraglim. Rashi notes that the previous parshah ended with the story of Miriam getting tzaras and being sent out of the camp because she spoke lashon hara about Moshe. Since this parshah begins with the miraglim, it implies that these two events are connected. But Rashi is bothered that they did not happen in chronological proximity. The events of the Korach rebellion were sandwiched in between.

Rashi explains that the Torah took these two events and juxtaposed them to teach us a lesson: Had the meraglim not been so wicked, they would have learned from what happened to Miriam, and that would have prevented them from saying their negative report about the land. However, says Rashi, “These wicked people saw what happened and didn’t learn from it.”

The problem with this Rashi is that the meraglim’s sin had nothing to do with lashon hara; it emanated from a lack of trust in Hashem. When they entered the land, they saw giants occupying fortified cities. They witnessed people dying left, right, and center. In their minds, if the Jewish nation attempted to conquer this land, they would be slaughtered wholesale.

Clearly, they were lacking in bitachon. Their faith in Hashem was deficient. But they weren’t guilty of speaking lashon hara.

First, there is no prohibition against speaking lashon hara about land. Land is inanimate. We are forbidden from derogatory speech about people, not rocks.

Of even greater significance, once the meraglim made their mistake and concluded that Hashem wasn’t powerful enough to bring the people into the land, what they then spoke wasn’t lashon hara at all. In their calculation, they were saving the Jewish people from utter destruction, in which case it wasn’t forbidden speech – it was a mitzvah.

Why Does the Torah Forbid Lashon Hara?

The answer to this question stems from understanding why the Torah forbids lashon hara. The Rambam defines lashon hara as words that hurt, words that damage. Whether they cause a person embarrassment, loss of income, or sully his reputation, the very definition of lashon hara is words that cause harm. That is the reason the Torah forbids us to speak it – not because the Torah is so strict, but because words can have such a harmful effect.

To appreciate the damage words can cause, imagine that I discover a cloak of invisibility. When I put this cape on, I can walk around freely without anyone seeing me. Imagine for a moment that after I find this cloak, I decide to have some fun. As I walk around the beis medrash, I take a sefer from one fellow and turn it upside down. Then I walk over to another fellow and close his Gemara. I am having a jolly time!

After a while, I get a bit bolder. As someone is walking by, I leave my foot in the aisle. He falls to the floor with a crash.

“This is fun,” I think to myself. And now I really start to get into it.

As a fellow walks by, I give him a punch in the stomach. The next guy, I smash in the back. Before you know it, guys are really getting hurt. The joke is no longer funny.

The Chofetz Chaim points out that the Torah reserves a curse for one who “hits his neighbor while hiding.” Chazal explain that this refers to someone who speaks lashon hara about his friend. Why am I so cavalier about what I say about him? Because he isn’t here. If he were standing right nearby, I would never say what I said. I say it only because he isn’t around. And in that sense, I am hitting him while hiding.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “The Power Of The Spoken Word”

  1. If only more people understood the power of speech and the harm caused by slander and gossip…

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A Muslim social media campaign against ISIS was begun by the British Active Change Foundation.
Muslims Tell ISIS: #NotInMyName [video]
Latest Judaism Stories
Teens-091214-Shofar

Hamas’ tunnels were destroyed as were plans for their unparalleled terror attacks on Rosh Hashana.

Hertzberg-092614

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

The Torah notes that even when we are dispersed God will return us to Him.

Simply, for Rambam the number 14 (2×7) was his favored organizing principle.

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

This young, innocent child gave me a powerful, warm surge of energy and strength.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

A Role Reversal
‘Return, O Wayward Sons…’
(Chagigah 15a)

When the Kleins returned, however, they were dismayed to see that the renters did a poor job cleaning up after themselves.

In Parshas Re’eh the Torah tells us about the bechira to adhere to the commandments of Hashem and refrain from sin. In Parshas Nitzavim, the Torah tells us that we have the choice to repent after we have sinned.

As Moshe is about to die, why does God tell him about how the Israelites will ruin everything?

Jonah objected to God accepting repentance based on ulterior motives and likely for short duration.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

The-Shmuz

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

A replica reminds a person of the original. Granted it is in miniature, and granted no one would mistake it for the original, but it carries, almost in caricature form, some semblance of the original.

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.

When Hashem first thought (if it could be) about creating the world, the middah of din was in operation.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-power-of-the-spoken-word-2/2014/06/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: