This Shabbat, Parshat Tazria Metzora, candle lighting will be at 7:26 PM in Brooklyn New York. This week is a double parsha which deals with laws of childbirth, as well as the laws of Tsaras, an affliction mistakenly translated as leprosy. In reality, tsaras is similar symptomatically to psoriasis, although it is entirely different. The Torah describes tsaras as an affliction brought on by gossip and other sins of speech, which like the quarantine involved in tsaras, involves isolation (of a different nature) from the community.
Candle lighting, which is 18 minutes before sunset, differs from one locality to another. Chabad.org has the candle lighting time for your locality, as well as articles on the parsha and other topics of interest. These articles can be printed out to be read on Shabbat. This week, Chabad.org has an article about a Jewish woman who was drawn, along with her family to live in Israel.
In addition, Aish.com similarly has a wide assortment of educational and entertaining materials in written and in multimedia format. There is a great deal of commentary on these web sites that can shed light on Torah passages that might otherwise seem dry and legalistic.
Aish.com has an article about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s warm correspondence with the king of Saudi Arabia concerning the establishment of a Jewish state. The correspondence clashes starkly with Roosevelt’s image at the time as being “a friend of the Jews.”
The laws governing speech are complex and comprehensive. They are a wonderful aid to creating familial and communal peace. A visit to the Chofetz Chaim Foundation on line will provide an enlightening introduction to these laws.
There are laws in Judaism that are ritual laws, such as the laws of kosher slaughter and of ritual immersion. Then there are commemorative commandments such as those governing the Passover seder and Shabbat, which honours the creation of the world in six days. Then there are rational commandments, such as those against killing, adultery and robbery. The laws governing speech come under the heading of rational laws.
For instance, one of the laws of prohibited speech discussed by the Chofetz Chaim prohibits asking a storekeeper the price of an item when one has no intention of making a purchase. This is due to the distress that a shopkeeper would experience if his hopes were to be raised, only to be disappointed when a customer walks out without making a purchase.
It is forbidden to praise someone in the presence of his enemies, since this could well lead to the person’s enemies countering the praise with words of disparagement.
A person who rolls their eyes in a derisive way has spoken loshon hara (bad speech) even without saying a word.
One might ask if there is a relationship between gossip and depression, since a person who gossips will often assume that others are speaking ill of them in their absence. Some people have an instinctive feel for what is permitted and what is forbidden speech. Other people need to learn the difference.
Not always is derogatory speech forbidden. If someone wants to marry a wife beater, go into business with a thief, or hire a child abuser as a baby sitter, it would not only be permitted but required to speak up. The laws of lashon hara speak to a range of human experience that is universal to the human condition
Globe Tribune.Info wishes all of its readers a joyous, restful and meaningful Shabbat.
The stamp at the top of this page depicts Rabbi Yisroel Kagan, known also as the Chofetz Chaim and can be found at the leimanlibrary.com web site.