Sign up to TorahFax


Thursday, Sivan 23, 5781 / June 3, 2021


Last week’s Parsha, Beha’alotcha, ends with the story of Miriam’s punishment for speaking slander

against Moshe. This week’s Parsha, Shlach, begins with the story of the spies which Moshe sent to

scout the promised land. After 40 days, ten of the spies came back and gave a bad report about the

land. They told of the giants they encountered and concluded that it will be impossible to inherit the land.

Only two of the spies came back with a good report. As a result, the people refused to enter the

Promised Land and were punished for it.


Our sages draw a very important lesson from this story. If speaking bad about the land of Israel was a

grave sin, then how much more so if one speaks evil about people.


Rabbi Israel Meir of Radin, known as the Chafetz Chaim, preached and wrote extensively against

speaking Lashon Hara - bad talk about others.


Once, as the Chafetz Chaim was taking a walk, a carriage stopped, a man came out and approaching

the Chafetz Chaim he said, "I am a stranger here. Can you please direct me to the home of the great

scholar, Rabbi Israel Meir, the Chafetz Chaim?"


"Why do you want to see him?" asked Rabbi Israel Meir without disclosing his identity. "I would like to

receive the blessing of this wise and righteous Rabbi," answered the man.


"Oh, don't waste your time, he's not as wise and righteous as you think!" Rabbi Israel Meir replied.


The man became so upset that someone could say this about the Chafetz Chaim, that he slapped the

Chafetz Chaim across the face. 


Several hours later, he came to the home of the Chafetz Chaim.  The man took one look and fainted! 

The person he slapped was none other than Rabbi Israel Meir, the Chafetz Chaim himself!


When he regained consciousness, he begged the Chafetz Chaim for forgiveness. But the Chafetz

Chaim said to him, "Do not be upset!  As a matter of fact, I have to thank you! You taught me a great

lesson. Now I know that a person should not talk bad even about himself!"


Rabbi Israel Meir once had an idea to publish an announcement stating that speaking slander was as much a sin as eating pork. He discussed this with Rabbi Meir Shapiro of Lublin. He explained, “If Jews would realize that the sin of speaking slander is as strict as eating pork, no Jew would speak slander?”


Rabbi Shapiro replied, “I’m afraid it may have the opposite effect. It may make the sin of eating pork lighter… They will say that eating pork is not such a great sin… as it is only like speaking slander..”


The laws of Kosher food are very important. Our sages say that a person must be as careful with what comes out of the mouth, as with what goes into their mouth.