Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Shlomos Drash Tzaria-Metzora: A Woman Comes First

Moving from all the death of animals for food and death of offspring in industrial accidents of last week, this week we read the rest of the biblical public health code in a double portion. We start with the procedure for a mother after giving birth, we then move into the beginning of a rather long two portion discussion of the issue of what in that text is called tzarat and at a later time would be translated leprosy, both of people, clothes and of buildings. We end with the procedures for the disease Tzav, today regarded as an STD. Yet this time it is a rather odd little bit of Talmud related to the beginning of the parsha that caught my eye. We read this week:

1. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2. Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If a woman conceives, and bears a male child; then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her menstruation, shall she be unclean. 3. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Circumcision of course was first commanded of Abraham back in Genesis, so there is not much new there. It is the phrase “if a woman conceives, and bears a male child” that is the interesting part. And the word for which our portion is named Tzaria which is the critical word the Rabbis of the Talmud play with to write a rather startling little passage found in Niddah 31a:

R. Isaac citing R. Ammi stated: If the woman emits her semen first she bears a male child; if the man emits his semen first she bears a female child; for it is said, If a woman emits semen and bears a man-child. (Leviticus 12:1)

In Hebrew, the root word for seed is Zayin-Resh-Ayin. Its meaning changes between agricultural seed and the word for semen. It can be a verb that could mean to emit or plant seed. In the human case that would be male ejaculation, and thus orgasm. Parallel to this, it means for women is for them to conceive. The Rabbis in our Talmud text, however, imply that the multiple meanings of the word means that both conception and the female emission of seed, orgasm, are the same thing. In short, through playing with the word tzaria and its usual meaning of conception when used concerning women, the Rabbis changed it to orgasm: If you want a boy, a woman comes first.

Word play was not a sufficient proof text for the rabbis however, as they continue on Niddah 31b.

Our Rabbis taught: At first it used to be said that ‘if the woman emits her semen first she will bear a male, and if the man emits his semen first she will bear a female’, but the Sages did not explain the reason, until R. Zadok came and explained it: These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore unto Jacob in Paddan-aram, with his daughter Dinah, (Gen 46:15) Scripture thus ascribes the males to the females and the females to the males.

Unsatisfied with the lack of a strong proof text, R. Zadok teaches that Genesis 46:15 is the proof text. Genesis 46:8-14 gives the names of Leah’s sons and grandchildren ascribing them to Leah. Yet in Genesis 15 it ascribes Dinah, Leah’s only daughter, not to Leah but to Jacob. This Zadok concludes, is the proof text that if a man ejaculates first he has a daughter, and if a woman does he has a son.

R. Zadok’s proof text has quite an implication, however. With twelve sons and one daughter, Jacob was quite the lover, able to satisfy not just one, but four women. We know from Genesis 26:8-9, Jacob’s parents Isaac and Rebecca both had an active sex life, with either a streak of exhibitionism in it, or such desire they forgot to close the window shades occasionally. In the episode where Abimelech finds Isaac and Rebecca together, it is interesting to note that it is not sex they are caught doing but Isaac is fondling and exciting Rebecca. Though the word for fondling might be also translated they were merely joking around, it is clear by context they were making out. They were not caught in the act of intercourse, but in foreplay.

Foreplay gets a big underlined comment from Rashi. Rashi interprets another passage in B. Shabbat where R. Hisda cryptically instructs his daughters on what to do with their husbands, adding to Hisda’s comments:

When your husband caresses you to arouse your desire for intercourse and holds the breasts with one hand and “that place’ [that is the vagina] with the other give the breasts [at first] to increase his passion and do not give him the place of intercourse too soon until his passion increases and he is in pain with desire (Rashi on b. Shabbat 140b “he had a pearl in his hand”)

Rashi probably was indirectly instructing his male students what to do with their wives in this passage. Others, such as the authors of the medieval German Piest work Sefer Hasidim quoted the Talmud passage about making a woman emit seed first almost verbatim. Another medieval work, the Iggeret ha Kodesh goes even further. Most noted for its passage in chapter two which refutes Maimonides that sex is bad, it is by far no mere sex manual. Instead based on Niddah 31a, the Talmudic discussion of onah, and the cryptic comments of R. Hisda in Shabbat 140b, the whole book is how to have the perfect and holy intention that when one has sex so that a father does not have just a boy, but the child ends up a Torah scholar.

Yet that is not the only meaning of the Iggeret ha Kodesh. It is one of the early works of the circle of Moses de Leon, the group of mystics we call today the early Kabbalists. To the Kabbalists, this has meaning about the way to excite holy energies which are enumerated by gender. One had to excite the female energies before the male ones in order to provide the proper holy union. And one had to be careful how one did that, for there were two types of female energies, good and bad. Thus all this sexual talk, for the Kabbalists, was not about this world, but the world above. Yet the Kabbalists also maintained that what happened in this world affected the world above, thus the sexual union of man and wife effected the unifications of these energies in the heavens.

I wonder when all these sages engaged in sex with their wives, how much they care about their wife and how much did they care about Torah? Did one eclipse the other? I believe that the rabbis of the Talmud, as holy as they were, also were enormously practical people. They saw that there were two issues about sex and both were vitally important. The first and foremost was procreation. The second, was the psychological and sexual well being of a husband and wife. Without the sexual well being of a wife, who had no legal way to express her sexuality, she would turn to illegal and immoral promiscuous acts. A healthy and frequent dose of satisfying sex with her husband was required to keep women from straying and committing adultery. Adultery, in turn makes procreation and inheritance a more complex issue. Yet between a husband and wife, it could not be mindless procreation either, otherwise there would be no sexual satisfaction, and the need to turn to adultery or other promiscuous acts would be there. So the Rabbis I believe combined the two in our odd little passage about making sure women orgasm first. In their misogynistic world, men wanted a boy as both an heir and as the person they could teach Torah to; girls could have neither. In order to get what the husband wanted in sex, he had to give the wife more than just sperm.

Much had changed in the last two millennia. The status of women, their role in modern inheritance, and their ability to learn Torah, and for many movements even the ability to become a rabbi and Torah scholar have all changed. What the majority of modern Jews would consider immoral from the Talmudic Rabbis standpoint is different as well. Most of course do not believe in such superstitions. Yet there is still that odd little desire to determine the gender of one’s children. There are some people, both Jews and non Jews, who go to certain extents to determine the gender of their children, including exploiting supposed differences in behavior of X and Y chromosome sperm. I had originally thought to write about that issue, but instead I keep thinking about something else: Sexual satisfaction, and the very odd thought for a guy that women need sexual satisfaction.

And what I mean by odd is that through the self-protecting behavior of women, our entire social ritual of dating, and a commercial system which requires us not to fulfill those needs in order to buy consumer goods to replace or try to fulfill them, men generally are clueless of what a woman really wants. Indeed as men are generally the ones in the relationship who repeatedly had to be rejected, many men, including myself, end up intimidated into initiating anything. A whole subculture has arisen of pick up artists, men who have spent most of their lives totally intimidated by women, in reaction, subverting the system and objectifying women to fulfill their own immediate sexual needs. Their fascinating, and rather disturbing subculture was chronicled in Neil Strauss book The Game. Yet, I think it is this little passage in B. Niddah which puts all the sex manuals and pick up books into perspective. From the biblical stories of Eve, Rebecca and the rest, it becomes clear that sexual satisfaction for women is always an issue, that mere intercourse was never enough, but as Rashi makes clear desire increases for both through the loving use of all the body, through foreplay. Women really do want this with the right guy.

For a guy who is still afraid to ask for a phone number, or ask a woman out for a cup of coffee, because he is certain it will end in rejection, this is a surprising and encouraging message.

For more about the mitzvah of onah, and female sexual satisfaction, see my commentary for Parshat Mishpatim 5766

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Shlomos Drash Shimini 5766 - Clean or Contaminated?

This week, we have three major parts of our portion; we continue the sacrifices started in last week’s portion. It is the eighth day of sacrifices, and everything goes so well God performs a wonder and fire from the Lord devours the sacrifices. But things then turn tragic. As the text states: (Lev. 10:3).

Then the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu each took his censer and put in it fire. They put on it incense, then brought near strange fire before the Lord which he did not command them. Fire then came out before the Lord and consumed them so they died before the Lord. Moses said to Aaron: this is what the Lord said as follows: In my drawing near I will sanctify and over the face of all the people, I will honor. And Aaron was silent.

The rest of the Leviticus 10 then gives the aftermath of this tragedy and a prohibiton aginst priests making sacrifices while intoxicated. We end with the laws of prohibited and permitted animals for eating, the basis of the kosher laws.

I had a classmate in my Biblical Hebrew class for a while who worked for a government regulatory agency. As part of the training sessions he gave those he regulated, he would regularly start his session with the story of Nadab and Abihu, calling it “the first recorded industrial accident.” As I’ve commented on this portion a few years ago, Nadab and Abihu might have been heroes. One of the safeguards, the incense had been forgotten in these sacrifices, and they rushed to replace it before it was too late, though sacrificing their lives by coming up with a homebrew solution.

As a regulator of sorts myself, though usually internal to a company, I’ve run into homebrew solutions more than once, and I’m usually not happy with them. As a food safety inspector, one of the issues that comes up frequently is the issue of whether equipment is commercially approved or not. I’ve more than once run across a restaurant who had bought a home toaster or refrigerator. I’ve also watched as that toaster from some discount store has changed color once a week as they break in succession, or in one case seen the smoked and brunt wall when one caught on fire. I’ve seen those cheap dormitory refrigerators used for milk and coffee condiments in restaurants frost up so badly that there is no room for a pint container, let alone the temperature inside the unit is the same as outside the unit. Homebrew might work in a pinch, but it never does the job completely.

Very often, it’s the stuff we can’t see that is the problem, such as bacteria and viruses which are hiding, or have the potential to hide in a home brew solution. We know Nadab and Abihu used the wrong king of fire to light their censers. Interestingly, this small story punctuates a major change in the content of the book of Leviticus. For the next few parshiot, we change in topic from procedures for conducting a sacrifice to a comprehensive public health policy, all based on one concept and word which continually shows up in these passages: tamei. While many translations have a meaning of unclean I usually translate as contaminated. In food safety, we are concerned with three types of contaminants: biological agents like bacteria, chemical agents like rat poison, and physical objects such as glass. And while there a many parallels in Leviticus 10 through 15 to one of these three, I tend to talk of tamei as a fourth type of contamination, spiritual contamination.

One of the many issues I lecture on to public Health Departments is this issue of spiritual contamination. In many faith-based food facilities there may be sources of contamination that the inspector doesn’t know about or doesn’t care about, yet those who eat the food may be upset about. These sources may be of important concern to the people making the food or people eating the food. Islamic Halal, Kosher, and Hindu Vegetarianism fall into this category. In each of these cases, the theology changes. Therefore, how and where one finds this spiritual contamination changes greatly. For Hindus for example, one reason for vegetarianism is the issue of transmigration of the soul, that one might be eating one’s long deceased grandma. Yet from 16th century mystical thought on transmigration, the kosher prepared fish and meat for Shabbat, when eaten, moves the Jewish soul trapped in the animal to a higher level than a cow or fish. In short, what is or is not contaminated spiritually is completely determinate on belief. So an unaware health inspector who walks in the door and stats poking kosher or Halal beef with his thermometer he’s used on pulled pork is going to get himself in trouble with a lot of people.

In this light, it is interesting to note the prohibitions of Leviticus 11, which defines inherently spiritually contaminated species. We are allowed to eat land animals which have both split hooves and chews its cud. We are allowed seafood which has both fins and scales only. We are prohibited many species of birds, which by interpretation permits only chicken, domestic duck, and goose. No insects rodents or other creepy crawlies please. Animals must be alive healthy and intact at the time of slaughter. I don’t, like others assign rhyme or reason to these, nor do I substantiate my own diet to these biblical prohibitions outside of the literal reading of the text. AS far as I’m concerned they are Huquim, mitzvot without human reasons, though there are parallels to healthy eating. Maimonides was the first to claim that Kosher was healthy eating, and pig was very bad for you but living in a Islamic world, nobody except the occasional Christian ate pig, which allowed Maimonides to declare “everybody know this.” I do follow this list of prohibited and permitted species, not because it is healthy eating, but as many of Maimonides critics pointed out, but because it makes me more Jewish. I know some like to force their political or personal “homebrew” viewpoint of diet on others be they liberal or conservative saying “the bible says so.” I’m always uncomfortable with that. From Glatt to Vegan, what ones decides to eat I believe is a personal choice. Only two people it needs to substantiated with: God and oneself. Anything else is egotism: validating one’s own point of view by forcing another to observe it. It is why I rarely state my own dietary observances to anyone, which while more observant than most, are far from completely observant. It’s between me and God. Only those who might prepare food for me and respect what I believe have some idea. And their reactions are ones of understanding and compassion. Some might warn me to stay way from some dishes, others might make something special for me, and others might just not take offense if I refuse to eat something. At a gathering like the Passover Seder, there are many such issues, and each must be addressed with sensitivity and compassion. At my family seders, where ther are several such issues, it usually is, but all too often I see otherwise.

The death of Nadab and Abihu may have been an industrial accident where unapproved sources of fire were used for a procedure, and that source carried a form of contamination which killed them. Yet spiritual contamination may also be the way we determine what is holy and what is not, or in short what defines us as Jews. The number of stories about what happened with Nadab and Abihu are a beginning of a debate which continues today. What is clean and wholesome, what isn’t, and whose definition do we use?

I still have no idea for anyone but myself.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Shlomos Drash - Passover 5766 the Fifth Child

Passover 5766 - The Fifth Son

This week we begin the celebration of Passover with our Passover Seders. One of the earlier parts of the Seder is the story of the four sons, one wise, one wicked, one simple and one who does not know how to ask. Last year, while researching the issues in writing the Haggadah, I could not figure out the history or the halakah of this passage being included in the Seder. All I could find was the passage in Maimoindes’ Mishnah Torah noting we should say it. As to where it came from, I had no idea.

But in the year that followed, I took Rabbinic Hebrew, and learned much not just about the nuances of the language, but about other texts I had never heard of before. Among these were some midrashic texts that were relatively unknown to those of us who only know English. Indeed they are so unknown they are not even considered “standard” midrashic texts and hard to find even in Hebrew collections. Our standard and primary midrash, easily found in English, is Midrash Rabbah, which is commentary to the texts of the torah and the Megillot. Yet there are others, some of which concentrate on legal commentary instead of story, as does midrash Rabbah. Two of these, the Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael, and P’sikta Zutra, indeed have the passage of the four sons. In my research this year I also learn how to access and read these books, and thus learned more about the four sons.

The first occurrences are in these midrash, written during the time of the rabbis of the mishnah, making the passage almost 1900 years old. It does find it’s way into early liturgy, including the close to 1000 year old Mazhor Vitry one of the oldest records of liturgy of early Ashkenaz in Germany and France, contemporary with Rashi among others. While there is not a complete translation yet of this work, the author of the recently released novel Rashi’s Daughters is currently translating this medieval prayer book and guide to living a Jewish life. The four sons is also included a few hundred years later in Maimonides works, indicating this was not only a tradition among the Ashkenaz but even the Sephardic Jews as well.

In all of these there have been mere cosmetic changes or additions in the text of the four sons for close to two thousand years. Within the last forty, there have been changes, from very different sources. From those concerned with gender inclusion, there has been movement to change “sons” in translation to the more gender neutral “child” which, in the case of Hebrew is a valid translation. Yet the bigger change has been the inclusion of a fifth child.

I first became aware of a fifth child in the mid 1980’s, when My mom brought home an article from a Jewish magazine that had a piece to include in Seders called The Fifth Son. Written by Irving Greenberg (and can be found in Appendix B of his book The Jewish Way) it was a piece intended to be read before Elijah was let in. However, in our family we always placed it in the position of a fifth child.

This fifth child was the victim of the holocaust, who did not survive to ask the question. The piece quotes another part of the Haggadah which records a debate about why we mention Passover at night we celebrate Passover, taken from B. Brachot 12b

The exodus from Egypt is to be mentioned [in the Shema’] at night-time. Said R. Eleazar b. Azariah: behold I am about seventy years old, and I have never been worthy to [find a reason] why the exodus from Egypt should be mentioned at nighttime until ben Zoma expounded it: for it says: that you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. [had the text said,] ‘the days of thy life’ it would have meant [only] the days; but ‘all the days of thy life’ includes the nights as well.

The night of the Haggadah and Talmud becomes the Night of Elie Wiesel in this piece, the darkest times of our existence. We must celebrate both in the good times and bad, Greenberg argues, to honor the memory of the victims of the holocaust.

Another kind of fifth child came from an entirely different source, that of the late Lubabvitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneersohn. As early as 1957 he mentioned the fifth son of the Passover Seder, the one who refused to be there. He noted that all the children, even the wicked son, showed up at the table with very different views and ideas and learning styles Yet more and more often there were those who just weren’t there. In the 1960’s he laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the civil religion of Judaism, the Jewish Federation and their brand of secular Judaism. But his concern was not to scorn the fifth children, but to do what was necessary to bring back those children to the Seder table and religious observance, before everyone was a fifth child.

I came across Reb Schneersohn’s writings on the subject many years ago when I was researching my own meditation on the four sons. Given the words of total scorn and rejection that my family’s Haggadah had against the son who asked the question “What does this service mean to you?” Every Passover, I always felt I didn’t belong at the table nor did I deserve to leave Egypt had I been there, given the questions I did ask of our religion. Yet, the Rebbe’s words were in many ways soothing that indeed I did belong there. Since Sinai, we all did.

While Habad theology and my own are very different, this idea has stuck with me all this time, along with the silence Greenberg’s Shoah piece had. Last year while doing a re-edit of the Haggadah my family uses, I combined the pieces together into one piece about the fifth child, replacing the many inserts we had been using at this point. While the child who does not know how to ask is there but silent, a silence of presence, the fifth child is a silence of absence and all the more quiet.

As I wrote this, I got an interesting e-mail from the Chicago tribune asking fro an interview. After arraigning a time for a phone conversation, the reporter asked me some questions about outreach, spirituality, drum circles and the song Shabbosville. When the reporter asked whether I felt “Spiritual” while involved with a drum circle or in other situations, I noticed something I hadn’t before. All of my answers to this spiritual question were the same. Spiritual for me is about connection, about divine connection, but even stronger, about connection within a community. The community is the connection to the divine connection. When I drum in a drum circle, or get into a discussion group, there is something special that happens within that group. For me any kind of spiritual is about that connection. As our tradition notes in many ways spirituality is something that is to be done in a group. Whether it is the requirement of a minyan for Kaddish, or the statement in the Perkei Avot that three who speak words of Torah at a table dine at the table of Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu, we are told over and over again community is holy. We can remember the story of the five Sages of Bnei Brak who got into the Seder’s spirituality so much through discussion, they lost track of time.

So when we sit down to our Passover Seders, we one again meet in community. My family’s Seder has over time turned into community event, with many who would not otherwise at the table for a religious observance attending and helping us tell the story of the exodus from Egypt. The table is community, and community is what really is spiritual. And it is in that light that makes the fifth child so much more tragic. Not only are there the silence of those who died in the Shoah, and those who endanger Jewish religious continuity, but those who do not live in the divine connection of community, even for one or two nights a year. We left Egypt not as individuals, but as a holy community.

As the Seder is community, let us remember to appreciate that at our own Seders and pray and work towards making sure all can feel the spirituality of such a communal meal.

Have wonderful Seders and a very happy Passover

Friday, April 07, 2006

Shlomos Drash Tzav 5766 - Treif?

This week covers more procedures for the sacrifice in the Mishkan, and then the record of those first sacrifices. Like many of these chapters about the sacrificial procedure, it is seemingly irrelevant to things today: indeed it was seemingly irrelevant to the world of even the Rabbis who didn’t have a temple either.

But yet, there are some things which stand the test of time. This week we read:

19. And the meat that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burned with fire; and as for the meat, all who are clean shall eat of it. 20. But the soul who eats of the meat of the sacrifice of peace offerings, that belongs to the Lord, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from his people. 21. Moreover the soul who shall touch any unclean thing, as the uncleanness of man, or any unclean beast, or any abominable unclean thing, and eat of the meat of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which belongs to the Lord, that soul shall be cut off from his people. 22. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,23. Speak to the people of Israel, saying, You shall eat no kind of fat, of ox, or of sheep, or of goat. 24. And the fat of the beast that dies of itself, and the fat of that which is torn by beasts, may be used in any other use; but you shall in no wise eat of it. (Leviticus 7:19-24)

While the context of the passage above applies to the temple service, it was not hard to extend it to all eating, as other passages elsewhere give details of this prohibition. If meat comes into contact with impure things it is not to be eaten. If a person is clean, that they didn’t touch impure things, such as an infection on a human, or a pig, they may eat it. The fat of the animal was not to be eaten. Other forms of unclean included where an animal dies on its own or is torn by another animal the food animal is not clean enough to eat. But one can use that fat for other purposes, say axle grease.

The word for impure is tamei. And while the word unclean is a common translation, I tend as a public health person to call it contaminated. While tamei often parallels contamination from biological, chemical and physical sources, it really is another type of contamination: spiritual contamination. In some way which is not completely explained, certain acts render a person contaminated, and in a way that such contamination can transfer between a contaminated object and a person or a person and the food they consume. I actually use the translation of spiritual contamination when talking to public health officials about faith based eating practices and how they conduct food inspections of faith based facilities. While what the actual contaminant is, and why we shouldn’t eat it change by faith, whether I’m dealing with the Islamic Hallal/Haram food codes, Kashrut, Hindu vegetarianism, or certain prohibitions among Christian sects, all can understand someone’s reluctance in terms of a contaminating agent.

But through an evolution of things, and based on our passage, when Jews talk about spiritually impure foods that is not the word we use. Instead we use the term treifa. Treifa actually means torn, and really applies to one case of tamei, that of one animal tearing up another animal. But we can see in that case it means the meat is unclean and prohibited from being eaten. While our passage in Leviticus 7:24 refers to the fat of a treifa animal, Exodus 22:30 mentions the flesh and Leviticus 22:8 prohibits eating any part of the animal. By rabbinic times it referred not only to kosher animals that were torn by beasts, but animals that were torn by anything. This is a big reason why hunting is not a common Jewish recreation. From a standpoint of kosher, no one could eat any animal damaged from traps, arrows or bullets. But as treifa became one of the common standards to determine the suitability of an animal, it began to be used for any animal which was unfit for kosher slaughter, thus including such things as “downer” animals that were too ill to be slaughtered or could not walk. From there, instead of referring to just the status of meat, it began to be used for any other food that was not considered kosher, essentially replacing tamei. In the Yiddish vernacular glatt, which really meant the organs in a kosher animal had no tumors, eventually meant strictly kosher and its opposite was Treif, not kosher.

But the term treif did not end with just food, but often is now used to talk about anything not kosher. I find it interesting that the term has become a derogatory term often used by ultra orthodox to talk about other Jews not following the same observances as themselves. Having it waged against myself, and having some close relatives who once had to endure it on a daily basis, it has bothered me that a term meant to describe a specific status of a food product is used for lashon hara. In one poetic sense I can see the point. Something holy is rendered unholy by the attack of a belligerent third party. The holy Jew, is torn by the secular world, and thus becomes non observant. But the imagery falls apart when we realize that any such attack is non voluntary. The cow does not go out to meet the wolf to be torn; the Deer does not choose to remain still while the bear mauls him. In this understanding, Treif is not derogatory, but tragic -- the treifa animal is a victim, not a volunteer. I doubt anyone would have the chutzpa to call a holocaust survivor treif, but in many ways, they are victims of wild aggression, bearing the tears and scars.

And thus I notice a total reversal in the term Treif. Used as lashon hara, it renders not the non-observant but the observant unacceptable for involvement in the sacred. While the live and healthy cow or goat might be, under proper circumstances, considered kosher, holy enough for consumption, the wolf and bear, the wild beast, never is. To use such a term, to fall to such a level of hate is to render an attacker completely unholy as the wild beast, is to admit one is a wild beast and never was a holy creature. As I have seen in my own experience, those who are attacked verbally about their lack of observance tend to not repent due to such attacks, but turn away even more. They will not just turn away themselves, but will turn their descendants away as well, never having a Jewish home for their children. Such Lashon Hara is not just a sin, but it also kills the Jewish people.

As is all too often the case, Lashon Hara does not benefit anyone. So let’s not use it, Shall we?