Torah Tidbits

1 September 2014 / 6 Elul 5774
Issue 1033
Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim
February 07, 2013

Divrei Menachem

Divrei Menachem

There are those who remind us occasionally that we live in a world of falsehood. Understandable, since the very term for this world, Olam, indicates that something, the purest light from the Source, is Ne’elam, hidden from us. However, it is also said that without “darkness” we would never comprehend light. One way or another, the falsities of this world present a supreme obstacle in our attempts to attain spiritual integrity and to bathe in the light of the Shechina.
No wonder then that in our parsha the Torah commands us neither to accept a false report nor to extend our hand to the wicked to be a venal witness (one who accepts a bribe). Interestingly, the first part of the pasuk (Sh’mot 23:1) refers to the prohibition to believe unveri- fied gossip while the latter phrase refers to a ban on false witnesses.
In both cases one could consider extenuating circumstances: How often do we say that we are not really talking Lashon Hara - “It is for a good cause; we are acting professionally”? And unsure of our evidence, how often do we rationalize that we are saving the world from itself, that our motives are noble?
The two parts are of the pasuk are connected, however. Yes, we start with seemingly irrelevant gossip… but that is possibly the first of several treacherous small steps on the road to deceit until, almost unknowingly, we turn against our brothers in court with but another little lie.

Shabbat Shalom, Menachem Persoff

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