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GENESIS — 2:7 soul

GEN254 Rashi explains that even the animals are called nefesh chayim – a living soul; but that man has more life than all of the others, for in him was infused, in addition, intelligence and speech.  What Hashem breathed into man’s nostrils was, as it were, His own divine breath, and this life principle of man added to him intelligence and speech.  This power of speech is the crowning glory of man, derived, as it were, from Hashem Himself.  If a king would place his own crown on the head of his son, the crown prince, and the son would then take that crown and throw it into the mud, what greater rebellion could there be, and what greater denial of the majesty of the king? When man takes speech, which is the crowning glory bestowed on him by Hashem, and profanes it with forbidden words, what greater statement is there than “Who is our Master (Psalm 12:5)?" SEFER xxi


GENESIS — 3:1 any

GEN355 The yetzer hara (evil inclination) may (try to) make the laws against evil speech (lashon hara) seem so stringent that the person will begin to think that everything is considered lashon hara, leading him to conclude that it is impossible for a person to refrain from transgressing and still live normally.  He’ll think that he needs to completely disconnect himself from worldly matters in order to avoid lashon hara.  This tactic is similar to that employed by the sly Serpent, who said to Chavah, “Perhaps Hashem said you shouldn’t eat from any tree in the garden.”  [The Serpent suggested that Hashem’s prohibition was not limited to one tree, the Tree of Knowledge, but included all the other trees in Gan Eden as well.  This made Chavah feel that it was impossible to abide by Hashem’s commandment, which prompted her to sin by eating from the one tree whose fruit was actually prohibited.].  SEFER 19


GENESIS — 9:23 covered

GEN742 (Continued from [[LEV731]] Leviticus 19:18 yourself SEFER 50-1). One must make sure to protect another person’s dignity in every possible way.  The Torah deliberately recounted to us the story of Noach, telling us how he became drunk and then exposed, and how his sons Shem and Yefes covered their father in order to save him from embarrassment.  The Torah also records the berachah that Noach subsequently gave Shem and Yefes, and describes how it was eventually fulfilled, to show us the importance of this quality of doing one’s utmost to save another person from humiliation, just as he would do for himself.  SEFER 51


GENESIS — 37:2 reports

GEN1437 (Continued from [[LEV491]] Leviticus 19:16 idly-by SEFER 30-1). Furthermore, lashon hara was the main reason that Bnei Yisrael descended to Egypt, as the pasuk says [this verse].  Because of Yosef’s words, it was decreed in Heaven that he should be sold as a slave, which was a measure-for-measure punishment for his having said that his brothers called some of their brothers slaves, as the Midrash Genesis Rabbah 84:7 and the Yerushalmi [Jerusalem Talmud] in Peah 1:1.   Even though Yosef thought he had a reason that halachically justified relating this information, as the commentaries, explain, you see that no justification helped him, and he was punished nonetheless. Moreover, the primary cause of our current galus was the incident with the Spies, as the pasuk says וַיִּשָּׂ֣א יָדֹ֣ו לָהֶ֑ם לְהַפִּ֥יל וגו׳ וּ֝לְזָרֹותָ֗ם בָּאֲרָצֹֽות׃ And He lifted His hand against them to make them fall... and to scatter them among the lands (Tehillim 106:26-27). Rashi there explains [that this was a punishment for the sin of the Spies, which is mentioned in the previous pesukim], and the Ramban on who Chumash gives a similar explanation in his commentary on the episode of the Spies (Bamidbar 14:1). Chazal say in Arachin (15a) that the primary sin of the Spies was the derogatory report they gave about Eretz Yisrael. Because Bnei Israel cried then for nothing, it was decreed that they would subsequently cry for generations to come. [Consequently, our current galus is a result of the Spies’ sin of lashon hara.] We have suffered countless other calamities due to this terrible sin. The deaths of all of the talmidei chachamim who were killed by King Yanai during the time of Shimon ben Shetach—Yanai’s brother-in-law--were also due to rechilus, as the Gemara explains in Kiddishin (66 a). The murder of the Tanna Rabbi Elazar Hamoda’i, which caused the destruction of the city of Beitar, was also the result of rechilus, for people spoke rechilus about him before Ben Koziva, as the Midrash on Eichah explains (Eichah Rabbah 2:4). Due to the severe repercussions of this deplorable trait, the Torah specifically warns us against it with the explicit prohibition of לֹא־תֵלֵ֤ךְ רָכִיל֙ בְּעַמֶּ֔יךָ, Do not go as a talebearer among your nation (Vayikra 19:16), as we will explain later. (This is in contrast to anger, cruelty, scoffing, and all other bad traits, none of which the Torah forbad with an explicit prohibition among the 613 mitzvos--even though they, too, destroy the image and form of one's soul, and the Torah alludes to them in several places, as Chazal point out.) Furthermore, there is another obvious reason why the Torah specifically cautioned us against lashon hara. When we carefully consider these practices of lashon hara and rechilus, we will discover that they encompass almost all of the negative and positive commandments in the area of bein adam l’chaveiro, as well as many mitzvos in the area of bein adam l’Makom, as we will explain. Therefore, the Torah specifically cautioned us about lashon hara and rechilus, to prevent us from being ensnared in this dangerous trap.   SEFER 31-2


EXODUS — 2:14 known

EXOD50 Another reason why lashon hara is responsible for our galus [exile-AJL] is that it causes the Jewish people to be subjugated with backbreaking labor, as we find in Parashas Shemos. On the pasuk: אָכֵ֖ן נֹודַ֥ע הַדָּבָֽר, Indeed, the matter has become known (Shemos 2:14), Rashi explains [that Moshe wondered which sin Bnei Israel had committed that made them deserve the punishment of backbreaking labor, but after he saw Jews speaking lashon hara, he understood why they deserve this treatment.] Additionally, we find this explicit statement in the Midrash Rabbah on Parashas Ki Seitzei: “Hashem said, ‘In this world, because there was lashon hara among you, I removed My Schechinah [Divine presence – AJL] from your midst, but in the future...’” (Devarim Rabbah 6:14). We find another clear reference to this idea in Parashas Vezos Haberachah. On the pasuk:... וַיְהִ֥י בִישֻׁר֖וּן מֶ֑לֶךְ בְּהִתְאַסֵּף֙ רָ֣אשֵׁי עָ֔ם יַ֖חַד שִׁבְטֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ And He was King over Yeshurun [Yisrael], when the leaders of the nation gathered, and the tribes of Israel were unified. (Devarim 33:5), Rashi (citing Sifri) explains: When is He King over Yeshurun? Only when the tribes of Israel are unified, and not when they are divided into disparate groups--which, we know, happens as a result of lashon hara. Besides, how is it possible for us to receive Hashem's blessings, for which we yearn, when we have accustomed ourselves to this sin? There is an explicit curse in the Torah--אָר֕וּר מַכֵּ֥ה רֵעֵ֖הוּ בַּסָּ֑תֶר, Cursed is one who strikes his fellow in secret (Devarim 27:24)--is encouraged by one who speaks lashon hara, as Rashi there explains. That is aside from the other curses one is liable to incur for speaking this way, as explained at the end of the opening sections.


EXODUS — 19:3 Jacob

EXOD312 Before Hashem gave the Torah to Bnei Yisrael, he told Moshe: כֹּ֤ה תֹאמַר֙ לְבֵ֣ית יַעֲקֹ֔ב וְתַגֵּ֖יד לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃… וִהְיִ֨יתֶם לִ֤י סְגֻלָּה֙ מִכָּל־הָ֣עַמִּ֔ים “So shall you say to the House of Yaakov [referring to the women] and speak to Bnei Yisrael [referring to the men] … and you will be cherished unto me more than all of the nations” (Shemos 19:3,5). The Toras Chaim (Bava Basra 130a) explains that Hashem deliberately instructed Moshe to speak separately to the women and the men, in order to teach us that the reward of one's mitzvos is shared equally by husband and wife, for the two are in essence one entity.


EXODUS — 20:12 honor

EXOD427 One who speaks lashon hara about his oldest brother, his mother's husband, or his father's wife also transgresses the commandment to honor one’s parents, for Chazal (Kesubos 103a) derive--from the word וְאֶת in the pasuk: כַּבֵּ֥ד אֶת־אָבִ֖יךָ וְאֶת־אִמֶּ֑ךָ, “Honor your father and your mother” (Shemos 20:12)--that there is an obligation to honor these individuals. If one speaks lashon hara about his actual father or mother, Heaven forbid, then he certainly transgresses the commandment to honor one's parents, and as also is subject to the curse of ארור מקלה אביו ואמו, “Cursed is one who disgraces his father or mother” (Devarim 27:26), Hashem should protect us.


EXODUS — 22:21 afflict

EXOD661 If one disparages an orphan or widow in their presence, then even if they are wealthy, he violates another prohibition, that of כָּל־אַלְמָנָ֥ה וְיָתֹ֖ום לֹ֥א תְעַנּֽוּן׃, “Do not afflict any widow or orphan” (Shemos 22:21). With this prohibition, the Torah cautions a person not to distress or cause any type of pain to an orphan or widow. The punishment for one who transgresses this prohibition is stated explicitly in the Torah: …וְחָרָ֣ה אַפִּ֔י וְהָרַגְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם “And my anger will flare, and I will kill you" Shemos 22:23).


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