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Shabbat Parashat Tazria Metzora| 5770

Parashat Hashavuah: Evil Eye and Tongue

Harav Shaul Yisraeli z.t.l.

 (1944- based on Siach Shaul, pp. 326-328)


“This is the Torah of the metzora (approximately, the leper) (Vayikra 14:2). The language indicates that the leper, who is expected to be one who speaks lashon hara (negative speech about others), is one who violates all of the five books of the Torah (Vayikra Rabba 16:6).

Since Chazal tell us that the Torah begins and ends with gemilut chasadim (doing acts of kindness), the antithesis of the Torah is lashon hara. In fact, the first sin in the world’s history was a result of the lashon hara that the snake spoke about Hashem. This destructive act is the father of all impurity in the world. Lashon hara is actually an expression of evil, as it starts with one who is not happy about the existence of something or someone that might threaten him. The person who is distraught over the prospect of competition is poisoned by venom that chases him away from what could be his personal Garden of Eden.

Adam had every pleasantry of nature to enjoy in the Garden of Eden. The snake came and hinted to him that the fact that one tree was withheld from him made all the difference. In fact, Hashem had created man so that he would have the status of: “You reduced him slightly from the Divine” (Tehillim 8:6), but the snake made Adam tormented by the fact that he was missing that something that made him less. This caused Adam to search for some excuse and rationale under which he could eat from the tree, a step that made him lose his Eden by his own doing. This is the power of the evil eye, to look negatively at anything above him and to cast aspersions on the Holy One.

The venom of anti-Semitism is also rooted in ayin ra’ah (looking at people with the hope they do not succeed) and lashon hara, as was epitomized by Haman. Here too the root of Haman’s “issue” was that “all of this is not worth it to me” as long as there is this one person who refuses to bow down to him. His riches, honor, and large family would not make up for the fact that someone refuses to bow down.

This week, during a trial over anti-Semitism, the accused got up and complained that it was a new and improper idea to curtail her freedom of speech, which should allow making hateful, dangerous accusations against Jews. Why should anyone care that what starts as the expression of an opinion critical of certain people ends off with satanic actions that cannot be restrained?

The Torah, whose content is to accept the yoke of Heaven, is all about putting a good eye into the human organism. As Chazal say, when Israel accepted the Torah, the filth that entered the world with the Original Sin ceased at Sinai (Shabbat 146a). The students of Rabbi Akiva died because they did not show respect one to the other (Yevamot 62b). When one does not recognize the good in his fellow man, it is because he does not see the good in Hashem. “One does not speak lashon hara until he denies Hashem” (Devarim Rabba 6:14). What people see as freedom can actually be rejection of the Heavenly yoke, and this brings death into the world because the connection between freedom and Torah is lost.

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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R' Meir ben
Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld

Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker and
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.


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