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Thursday Sivan 21, 5777 / June 15, 2017


In this week's Parsha Shlach, the Torah tells about the twelve spies which Moshe sent to scout the Promised Land.


As they were about to enter the Land of Cannan, which was to become the Land of Israel, the people asked Moshe to send spies to explore the territory. Moshe chose one person from each tribe and instructed them, "Go and see the land, what it is; and the people that dwell therein, whether they are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. Is the land good or bad; do they dwell in camps or in fortified cites; is the land fat or lean.”


Ten of them came back and gave a bad report. They told of the giants they encountered and of people dying. They concluded that it will be impossible to inherit the land. As a result, the people who refused to enter the Promised Land were punished to die in the desert. Only their wives and children entered into the Promised Land 38 years later.


Our sages draw a very important lesson from this story. If speaking bad about the land of Israel was such a grave sin, then how much more so if one speaks evil (Lashon Hara) about the people of Israel.


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 giving away his identity.


"I would like to receive the blessing of this wise and righteous Rabbi," answered the man.


Rabbi Israel Meir, who was very humble, replied: "Oh, don't waste your time; he's not as wise and righteous as you think!" The man, not knowing that he was talking to the rabbi himself, became so upset that someone would say this about the famous rabbi, that he slapped the rabbi 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 to forgive him. 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!"