Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Kedoshim

Rabbi Label Lam

Unspoken Words

"You shall not be a gossipmonger among your people, you shall not stand aside while your brother's blood is shed - I am Hashem!" (Vayikra 19:16)

What is the conceptual connection between these two mitzvos, that they are bound together with the powerful punctuation of the phrase; "I am Hashem"?

A fellow came to the Rabbi on the eve of Yom Kippur and openly confessed that he had slandered him. In the spirit of truth and reconciliation the man asked the Rabbi for forgiveness. The Rabbi agreed to grant his personal forgiveness, but only on the condition the man followed one simple formula.

The Rabbi prescribed that he should go out to the center of town with a goose feather stuffed pillow. Then he should cut open the pillow and shake out all the feathers. After that he should report back to the Rabbi for one more step before forgiveness is granted.

The man assumed he must go through this absurd exercise to personally humiliate himself. How foolish he would look shaking out that pillow in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. What an opportunity for atonement! The fellow sacrificed his comfortable pillow for the task of gaining the Rabbis forgiveness and shook out the thousands of feathers.

They floated about filling the whole marketplace as the rush of people and cars created great gusts of wind scattering the feathers to high and distant corners of the city. Then he reported to the Rabbi that the mission had been accomplished and he was ready for the final step before being cleared.

The Rabbi then told him that all he needed to do now was to gather all the feathers, and return them to the pillow.

The fellow was horrified. He told the Rabbi that it was impossible to retrieve all the feathers because they were now all over town and still blowing in the wind. The Rabbi told him at that moment, "that's what you did to me! If you retrieve the words and undo the harm that is still traversing the airwaves, then you can be completely forgiven!"

Slanderous talk is tantamount to murder. Destroying a person's reputation is like a suicide bomb. It kills the speaker as well as the victim and the receiver of the news. All are permanently stained in the process. This coarse equation is found in the verse at the top of the page. Passively watching your brother's blood being shed, and tale-bearing, are conceptually connected.

When someone remains silent and swallows a juicy tidbit, no person on earth will ever know or detect the enormous struggle and effort required to disarm - not detonating a loaded word.

Perhaps that's why the finale' of the verse is "I am Hashem". Similarly, when one opted not to risk and help save a friend, only The Almighty will know for sure if it was an act of discretion or cowardice that prevailed.

It's what resides at the core of silence that determines the innocence of a deed undone, or the golden quality of unspoken words.

Rabbi Lam, in association with "Foundations" and the "Aish Kodesh Institute" will be presenting a Unique Seminar Experience in Swan Lake, N.Y. The dates are Dec. 11-13. For details Please contact the Foundations office at Phone: (800)700-9577 Fax: (914)352-0305.


Text Copyright © 1998 Rabbi Dovid Green and Project Genesis, Inc.



 






ARTICLES ON VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Modeh Ani… I Am Thankful!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5775

A Little Background Information
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Some on Chariots, and Some on Horses
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Candle Lighting Blessings
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5761

Behind the Gray Blur
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Into the Hands of the Few
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

ArtScroll

The Key To Something More
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

A Killing Prayer
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5755

Lighting Up the Streets
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Reaching Upward
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Just Five More Minutes of Sleep!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

> A Celebration of Spiritual Victory
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Stagnation is Descent
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

Bread Is for Eating
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

Asleep on Hallowed Ground
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information