The Scary Truth about Lashon Hara

December 25, 2018 at 2:24 AM , , ,

“….Moshe became frightened and said, “Indeed, the matter has become known!….” – Shemot 2:14

״….ויירא משה ויאמר אכן נודע הדבר…״ – שמות ב, יד


The redemption from Egypt marked the birth of the Jewish people, when the Bnei Yisrael were chosen by G-d to be His nation.

This elite status was not something we earned through our merits. In fact, the long stay in Egypt had even drawn many members of Bnei Yisrael to idolatry (see Rambam, Laws of Avodah Zarah 1:3). Rather, Bnei Yisrael attained this status simply by G-d’s choice. True choice is the selection between options that may otherwise be entirely equal, and is therefore independent of the actual qualities of the one chosen, (unlike a decision based on the individual qualities of the selected.) Therefore, it was possible for the Bnei Yisrael to be chosen and redeemed despite their lowly spiritual state at the time.

Lashon HaraYet, when Moshe discovered that there were talebearers among the Bnei Yisrael, he became alarmed. “Since this is so,” worried Moshe, “perhaps they do not deserve to be redeemed (Rashi).” Why was lashon hara, tale-bearing, a cause for concern that the Bnei Yisrael might not be chosen and redeemed, more so than any other sin?

Moshe’s fear was because the redemption from Egypt was contingent on G-d choosing the “unit” of Bnei Yisrael as his nation, an entity that exists only if the individuals are not isolated and alienated one from another. Lashon Hara is unique among all other sins in the fact that it is divisive. Besides for causing tension between people, conversing about the deficiencies or poor behavior of another person highlights a lack of empathy toward the one being discussed, even if one has no intention of causing that person harm.

Moshe feared that the divisiveness of lashon hara could ruin the fabric of Bnei Yisrael as a cohesive group and nation. Though they didn’t need to be worthy in deeds in order to be chosen by G-d, but only through their unity were Bnei Yisrael capable of being the “nation” that G-d chose as His own.

—Likkutei Sichos vol. 31, pp. 8-12


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