Tag Archives: lashon hara

Midrash – Lashon hara

Midrash Shocher Tov

“The damage done by evil talk is compared to the piercing destruction of an arrow. Why is the tongue compared to an arrow? An arrow cannot be called back once it has been shot, even if the marksman wishes to do so. Just as the victim does not know about it until it actually reaches him, so the effects of evil talk are not felt until the arrows of a wicked person pierce him.”

Lashon hara – Kamza & Bar Kamza – ms-hs

 

 The Story of Kamza and Bar Kamza

Yom Kippur 5772   October 7/8, 2011

Rabbi Ronne Friedman,  Temple Israel, Boston

One of the most monumental catastrophes of Jewish history was the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in the latter half of the first Christian century.  Just as the prophets of ancient Israel had attempted to interpret the reasons for the destruction of the first Temple 650 years earlier, the rabbis of the Talmud struggled to provide a theological rationale for the second devastation, one that would preserve group identity in an era of loss and exile.

A Talmudic story that purports to explain the reason that the Temple was destroyed tells us of a certain unidentified man who “had a friend named Kamza and an enemy by the name of Bar Kamza.  This man threw a party and said to his servant, go and bring Kamza back to the party.  The servant, however, went and brought Bar Kamza. When the host found Bar Kamza there at his party, he said, “Look, you gossip about me; what are you doing here? Get out.” Bar Kamza replied: “Since I am here, let me stay, and I will pay you for whatever I eat and drink.” The host said, “I won’t.”  Bar Kamza then said, “Let me give you half the cost of the party.” “No,” said the host. “Then let me pay for the whole party.” The host still refused, and he took Bar Kamza by the arm and put him out.

Bar Kamza said to himself, “Since the Rabbis were sitting there and did not stop him, this shows that they agreed with him. I will go and inform against them, to the Government. He went and said to the Emperor of Rome, the Jews are rebelling against you….”  As a result of this, the Temple was destroyed.

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1  Note from this incident, the Talmud concludes, how serious a thing it is to put a person to shame, for God  took up the cause of Bar Kamza, and as a result God destroyed His own House and burnt His own Temple (and we ourselves have been exiled from the land.)

2   The rabbis seize upon this most painful historical event in their experience, the destruction of the Temple, and identify it as a divine consequence of the humiliation of an enemy.

Tzara’at as spiritual disease-ms&hs

Commentary

By Rabbi Jonathan Cohen  (Rabbi of Michkan Torah, Greenbelt, MD)                      
Mishkan Torah is a member of both the Reconstructionist and Conservative movements 
adapted from: http://www.mishkantorah.org/rabbi-jonathan-cohen/tazria-metzora

The sages taught that tzara’at was not a bodily disease, but a physical manifestation of a spiritual disease. They believed that it was a punishment for saying bad or untrue things about others. They said that the Hebrew word Metzora is a contraction of the two words motzi and  rah which means “one who spreads slander.” The “treatment” or punishment for the person afflicted with tzara’at  was to be placed in isolation away from the community for a period of time. During this time he or she had time to reflect on the damage done by their words.

Once the condition had been cured, the metzorah then offered a sacrifice including two birds: one to slaughter and one to set free.

Q:  Why do you think one bird was slaughtered and one set free?

Exercise: Lashon hara in Tanach

Look up these examples of lashon hara – what were the consequences? Was there a punishment?

  1. Bereshit    3: 1-20         The serpant uses ‘lashon hara’ with Eve 
  2. Bereshit  18: 12-15       Sarah uses ‘lashon hara’ with Abraham
  3. Bereshit  37:2               Joseph uses ‘lashon hara’ with his brothers
  4. Devarim 14: 36-37        Spies use ‘lashon hara’ with the people

Tzara’at as a spiritual disease- ps

Commentary

By Rabbi Jonathan Cohen  (Rabbi of Michkan Torah, Greenbelt, MD)                      
Mishkan Torah is a member of both the Reconstructionist and Conservative movements 
adapted from: http://www.mishkantorah.org/rabbi-jonathan-cohen/tazria-metzora

The sages taught that tzara’at was not a physical disease, but a spiritual one. They believed that it was a punishment for saying bad or untrue things about others. They said that the Hebrew word for the person afflicted with tzara’at  means “one who spreads slander.” The “treatment” or punishment for this was being placed in ‘time out’. During this time of isolation, the person had time to reflect on the damage done by his or her words.

Once the condition had been cured, the metzorah then offered a sacrifice including two birds: one to slaughter and one to set free.

Q:  Why do you think one bird was slaughtered and one set free?