This Shabbat focuses on the physical, or does it? As the Torah expounds on the mysterious afflictions to body, clothing and houses known as tzaraas, we learn this was considered a sign or punishment of lashon harah—evil speech.
There are many forms of evil speech. Many think it is okay to say anything about anybody as long as it is true. WRONG. The truth of a statement is not a defense. It may even be irrelevant. Obviously, speaking falsely about someone is beyond wrong, however saying something truthful, but hurtful, may be just as bad or worse. What if the person would be embarrassed or humiliated at a revelation? What was the purpose of the statement anyway? Does the speaker feel better about him or herself by sharing information about another?
The Rabbis tell us that unless our comments are carefully designed and specifically intended to save someone from harm or embarrassment, we should just keep our lips together. There is a reason why they say that improper speech kills three—speaker, listener and subject.
Did you know that, as a matter of Jewish law, anything that someone tells you is considered confidential UNLESS they tell you it is not? Our American culture commonly holds that nothing is confidential unless the speaker says it is. Jewish law is the opposite.
Last Shabbat we read the Parasha of Shemini that discusses some of the laws of Kashrut—what is permissible to eat and what is not. The Rabbis consider why those laws would be juxtaposed with the laws of tzaraas. The answer, they posit, is quite simple.
Just as what we put into our mouths is important and affects our body and soul, so what comes out of our mouths is similarly important, if not more so.
This Shabbat will be a very exciting one at Adat Shalom and I hope you will be there. It is SYNergy Shabbat with many learning opportunities. Click on this link for the schedule or go to www.adatshalom.org.
as well as a Post Kiddush Discussion on an interesting subject led by our Scholar in Residence Dr. Stephen Berk.
You have got to love Adat Shalom Synagogue and what it offers our community.
Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.