Parshat Kedoshim - The Letter and Spirit of the Law
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"civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.""Oops. Sorry. Can we all go home now?"
ואמרו במדרש: (תנחומא ב) "מות וחיים ביד לשון" (משלי יח, כא), הכל תלוי בלשון, זכה לחיים, לא זכה למיתה, עסק אדם בתורה בלשונו זכה לחיים, והיא התורה שנקראת עץ חיים, שנאמר: (משלי ג, יח) "עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה"...עסק בלשון הרע מתחייב בנפשו למות, שקשה לשון הרע משפיכות דמים, שכל מי שהורג אינו הורג אלא נפש אחת אבל המספר לשון הרע הורג שלשה: האומרו, והמקבלו, ומי שנאמר עליו.And [the rabbis] said in the Midrash, (Tanchuma 2) "Life and death are in the hands of the tongue." (Proverbs 18:21) Everything depends on the tongue. If one merits, he [receives] life, if he doesn't merit, he [receives] death. For if one engaged in Torah with his tongue, he merits life, for it is the Torah that is called the tree of life, as it is written, "It is a tree of life to those who grasp onto it."...If one engaged in slander [with his tongue] he obligates himself to [be punished with] death, for slander is worse than murder, for anyone who murders only murders one soul, but one who speaks slander kills three: he who spoke slander, he who accepted the slander, and the subject of the slander.
In the context of the Mishnah, we learn from this that a Kohen can declare all incidents of tzara'at as impure, except his own. Yet, commentators have a field day with this Mishnah, and especially the unusual language of רואה, meaning, "he sees," deriving the obvious truism that, "a person sees all blemishes, other than his own." While everyone else can see my faults clear as day, for some reason I can't see them. How true it is!כל הנגעים אדם רואה, חוץ מנגעי עצמו.A man may see every ailment, other than his own.
Read this way, the Mishnah communicates an even more powerful truth: when I see faults in others, I'm really seeing my own faults without even realizing it. Others' failures that match our own, trigger an instinctive desire to criticize ourselves. Yet, because I refuse to at least consciously acknowledge my own faults, I can only criticize the faults I see in my neighbor.כל הנגעים אדם רואה חוץ, מנגעי עצמוEvery blemish that a person sees external to him - comes from his own blemishes
Again Rav Doron reread the first verse:מִי-הָאִישׁ, הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים; אֹהֵב יָמִים, לִרְאוֹת טוֹב.נְצֹר לְשׁוֹנְךָ מֵרָע; וּשְׂפָתֶיךָ, מִדַּבֵּר מִרְמָה.
Who is the man that desires life, and loves days, that he may see good therein?
Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
מִי-הָאִישׁ, הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים, אֹהֵב יָמִים - לִרְאוֹת טוֹב
Who is the man that desires life and loves days - let him see the good!