Whoever speaks to you, will also speak about you

Friday, 8 April, 2016 - 5:38 am


Dear Friends,


When speaking about Lashon Hara (speaking evil, harmful speech of other people), I have a very clear rule. You can check for yourself and see that it’s correct: When someone is telling you something bad about someone else, you can be sure that he will tell someone else something bad about you. So what can we do? Simply stay away from a person who speaks Lashon Hara.

Parashat Tazria, which discusses the laws regarding the Metzora (usually translated – wrongly – as “leper”), says that a person who has been declared by a Cohen to be a Metzora will “sit in isolation; his dwelling will be outside the camp.” Since he is declared to be Tameh – “unclean” – he also causes other things to become Tameh, so it’s better that he sit outside the camp, with no one else around.

The Mishnah in tractate Nega’im discusses a case in which the Metzora did not leave the camp, but rather entered the home of a friend of his. It is clear to the Sages that the implements in this house become Tameh because of him – but not immediately. There is a minimal amount of time that must pass between his entering the house and his leaving in order for the vessels and implements to become Tameh; if he leaves the house immediately, they will not become Tameh.

What is this minimal amount of time?

“Rabbi Yehudah says, if he stayed long enough to light a candle.” In other words, if he stayed for as long as it takes to light Shabbat candles. Within that amount of time, the Metzora will not cause anything to be Tameh. A moment more – and everything will become Tameh.

Why did the Mishnah choose the example of lighting candles particularly in order to define the amount of time within which the Metzora doesn’t yet cause anything to become Tameh?

Here is a wonderful explanation from the Rebbe – a simple, one-plus-one calculation:

The Metzora, as is known, is punished with Tzara’at (“leprosy”) because of his speaking Lashon Hara. Actually, the Metzora represents Lashon Hara. The goal of Lashon Hara is to separate people, bring about disagreement and strife, and in the Rebbe’s words, “a separation of hearts.” This requires no explanation – its meaning is obvious.

In contrast to that, the stated goal of lighting Shabbat candles is “Shalom Bayit” – peace in the household. When there is light in the home there is peace. And we’re not talking only of the practical meaning, such as when the candles were the only physical source of light in the homes, but even when there is a large, light-producing chandelier, the Shabbat candles bring a sense of calm into the home, causing peace and quiet.

And so, it is clear that when a person is busying himself with “candle-lighting”, which represents Shalom Bayit, the Metzora, who represents separation of hearts, has no ability to influence the atmosphere and to cause Tumah. 

What have we learned from all this?

a. Whoever speaks to you, will also speak about you. b. Shabbat candles have the power to bring Shalom Bayit, even if there is a Metzora at the door who is trying to enter.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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