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The three victims of gossip - Noach

Thursday, 22 October, 2020 - 4:47 am

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This week’s Torah portion Noach begins with the words: “This is the genealogy of Noe”. One would expect the rest of the sentence to list the names of Noe’s children. Instead, the Torah stops to describe Noe himself and tell us that he was a righteous person, and only then does it list the names of his children. Why this interruption and change from the original subject?

To answer this question, we first need to understand something else.

The Talmud declares that Lashon Hara (literally evil tongue, or gossip) metaphorically “kills” three people: the one speaking, the one listening and the one who is being discussed. We can understand why the speaker and his audience are punished, since Lashon Hara is such a terrible sin, but why should the poor victim who they spoke about suffer?

When we speak, we bring to light thoughts that were otherwise hidden. Generally, speech has the great power of revealing hidden things. When someone says bad things about someone else, he uncovers and strengthens these bad elements in him. Thus, the Lashon Hara has an effect on the victim who was being spoken about.

The same applies to positive words as well. When we speak about the good elements of someone, we help to reveal and strengthen them even more.

This is the reason the Torah stops to say something good about Noe, to strengthen his positive traits. Noe, who was the only righteous person in the world, needed a lot of strength in order not to get carried away like the rest of the people.

Let us follow this approach in our personal lives and our personal relationships. Let us discuss the good characteristics and the good actions of the others, and not the opposite. In this way, the world will be filled with better people and will be a kinder and safer place.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

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