אַל־תּוֹנ֖וּ אִ֥ישׁ אֶת־אָחִֽיו A man shall not oppress his friend. The Midrash learns this Passuk to mean verbal abuse. A person needs to be very careful not to hurt another person’s feelings through words. Although the secular world is fond of saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, the Torah teaches us the opposite, "HaChaim Vehamoves Byad Haloshon - life and death are in the hands of the tongue!” The Shem M’Shmuel explains that the power of speech is a spiritual power and is, therefore, more powerful than any other power we possess. We need to use this power responsibly.
Rashi asks, “Why is Shabbos listed as the first of the Moados (the holidays) when it’s not a Moed? He answers that one who violates the holidays it is as if he is violating the Shabbos. Rav Shimshon Pincus explains this Rashi to mean that the Holiness that is part of the holiday comes from the Holiness of Shabbos. The source of any Holiness in reference to ‘time’ comes from Shabbos. Pesach and Sukkos always have at least one Shabbos within their days. Rosh Hashana marks the day that Adam Harishon was created, which was Erev Shabbos. Yom Kippur is called Shabbos Shabboson, and Shavuos is after seven complete weeks - Sheva Shabbosos Temimos. All our times of Holiness revolve around Shabbos.
Parshas Achaarie Mot- Kedoshim
The Torah tells us that the Kohen Gadol cannot go into the Kodesh Hakoshim whenever he wants. We are then told he can only go in "Bezos -with this”. After hearing that, Kayin did Teshuva for killing his brother and was forgiven. Adam Harishon wrote “Mizmor Shir L’yom HaShabbos” as an ode to the power of Teshuva. There is, however, no mention of Teshuva - only praises to G-d. Nonetheless, there is one peculiar verse “Ukesial Lo Yavin es Zos - the fool does not understand ‘Zos’ this. And finally, in the Tehillim of “L’David Hashem Ori” which is recited between the beginning of the month of Elul until the end of the holiday of Sukkos it say"BeZos Ani Boteach" In "Zos" I put my trust. What is this word "Zos " all about? The Gematria, or numeric value, of "Zos" is 408. On Rosh Hashana we say there are three things that can nullify a bad decree: Fasting which is called "Tzom", using our voice, which is known as "Kol" to call out in prayer, and giving "Mamon" or money to charity. The numerical value of "Kol" "Mamon " and "Tzom" is 408. The Kohen Gadol goes into the Kodesesh Hakadoshim with a combination of prayer, fasting and charity. We say during the High Holiday season: “It is in my prayers fasting and charity that I put my trust”. Adam Harishon said only a fool does not understand the power of prayer, fasting, and charity.
Parshas Tazria Metzorah
There is a fascinating Gemara in Eiruchin 15b, that explains the passuk from this week’s Parsha, “Zot Tehiyeh Torat Hametzora” is illuding to “Zot Tehiyeh Torat Motzei Shem Ra”. The Gemara says that anyone who speaks Loshen Horah (gossip which is true) or worse, Motzei Shem Ra (false rumors and exaggerations), it is as if he denies the entire Torah. This is one of the seven sins for which a person receives the punishment of Tzara’at. Nowadays, people do not see Tzara’at, but is still affects the Neshama of a person. We are told that when a person goes to sleep at night, 1/60th of his Neshama goes up to Shamayim. If he speaks Loshon Horah, his Tzara’at, becomes prevalent on his Neshama, and no one in Shamayim will go near him, including Hashem’s Shecinah (the Divine presence of G-D) or the Malachim. In the times when Tzara’at was noticeable, the person who was afflicted with Tzara’at had to separate from the entire community and warn others not to go near him. This was Middah K’neged Middah (measure for measure). The one who spoke Lashon Horah separated his victim from the rest of the community and has made him feel isolated, so now he is separated from others and he feels isolated. There are countless stories of people whose lives have literally been destroyed by Motzei Shem Ra, people spreading rumors about them that are simply not true. One of the reasons we must be so careful about our speech is the difficulty and near impossibility of retracting what is said. It is like tearing open a feather pillow in the middle of the town square -- and then trying to gather up all the feathers and put them back in the case.