Parshas Mishpatim
Exodus 21:1 -24:18

Vicious Remarks ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Ms. Linda Elliott, may she rest in peace.

Do not promote or listen to a lie / falsehood! Exodus 23:1

Holy reader, it is so sad and unfortunate to be the recipient of a lie... It is horrible to be the dumping site for false and misleading information! I STRONGLY CAUTION every Jew to be extremely careful with what they say and what they listen to! Having said that I would like to ask...

Would you enjoy being the target of vicious remarks?

"Probably not!"

Would it bother you if you were just the object of a few lies?

"Most Definitely!!"

Well, how would you relish being the focus of a few misleading stories?

"It would be less than comfortable!"

Then I MUST ask those who simply ignore the Torah's instruction "Do not promote or listen to a lie... a falsehood... a misleading story..." Do lies bring you felicity? Is it satisfying spreading contamination like an infectious fly?

I feel like these few questions are nothing more than HYPERBOLIC TO SOME!! That is pitiful! When contemplating this heart to heart talk with our readership I felt overcome with frustration. I thought, 'How can I relate to our readership the pain and agony of such horrid behavior?' I pondered, 'How can I adequately express what it feels like to be the subject of lies... misinformation... religious spin...?'

Story: Why Depart A Jewish Community?
Dear reader, no one likes being the subject of such vicious and destructive conversation!! So in brief I will discuss portions of why Naomi and I moved away from our Jewish community. In discussing this we must be discreet yet in so doing provide you with enough information to feel the fallout. It is not important to name the community of our misfortune. What is important is to connect with our feelings of annihilation and isolation that resulted because other Jews simply listened to lies... to falsehoods... to misinformation... and to understand that by the simple act of listening to such corrupt conversation, these Jews were instruments of promoting that trash and hurting other Jews! It is devastating to be the subject of lies... misinformation... religious spin...

Keeping this in mind, we begin...
"Do not promote or listen to a lie / falsehood!" is the heart of one Torah command from Parshas Mishpatim. Holy reader, I am utterly amazed... stunned... shocked when occasionally asked why we left that community. When a poor Jew labors to do shuvah in the very community where he was a Messianic missionary from birth... Where he was a Messianic pastor... Where his missionary parents utterly rejected him... where he divorced his missionary spouse... where he was forsaken by nearly every relative...

And yet where he continued as a baal teshuvah... as a student of Torah... as an open book read by everyone each morning, afternoon, evening, Shabbos and High Holiday... Where he was an example of shuvah... where he remarried... where he assisted in establishing several Jewish congregations... where he was employed in a variety of positions from a simple shlepper to an administrator... where he eventually taught Torah and rose to defend Torah Judaism....

IT IS SO DEFINITELY WRONG NOT TO GIVE THIS MAN PROPER CONSIDERATION when approached by one of those contaminating flies especially when the slander... the obvious lie... the misinformation... the spin is {Shaw Vi, an obvious lie} impossible to believe! The emphasis here is Shaw Vi, meaning {an obvious} falsehood, a lie. When an individual has shown themselves to be other than what is reported or alleged, normally that is Shaw Vi!!

Yet, holy reader, it was not especially for the benefit of this Jew that the Torah commands "Do not promote or listen to a lie / falsehood!" This was written for the protection and benefit of every Jew! It was intended to establish a just, honest and fair method for protecting the honesty and integrity of every Jew from vicious slanders, lies, falsehoods and misinformation. G-d established this command to prevent Jews from being isolated within their own community. G-d initiated this command to promote peace and safety among Jews living in such close proximity to each other!

Now, dear reader, without expressing the gory details of this most unfortunate experience one can benefit from the pain. One can understand how miserable, how uncomfortable, how infuriating, how humiliating, how unsettling it is when Jews... respected Jews... speak such slime and when other Jews... respected Jews... listen. Again, I strongly recommend, be careful with the words you speak and the words that you listen to. No one wants to be the target of vicious remarks!! No Jew should be the victim of such evil behavior!! Hashem desires that each of us should be protected from such unsanitary mouths and ears.

Holy reader, seeing as we are studying Mishpatim, "the Laws," we must also consider the halachic issues here. Our sages say that the action of just listening to a calumny... the action of spreading a calumny... kills three.

First, those who are the target of such viciousness. In promoting or listening to a lie / falsehood, we sin in causing harm to another. To harm another's reputation is a grave matter as it is a most precious possession. Damage is done on so many levels. Respect, friendship, community, livelihood, even survival are all at stake.

Second, the fly that carries the infectious words. This text, "Do not promote or listen to a lie / falsehood!" is the basis for the Talmudic requirement that a litigant must not state his case to the Bais Din in the absence of the other litigant. WHY? To establish and insist on intergity and respect for all parties concerned! The only exception to this is when one's life is threatened!!

Third, the fly that listens to an unsubstantiated report is nothing less than swimming in slime... in garbage. One MUST contemplate the damage we do to ourselves in listening to or speaking a falsehood ... The spiritual debt we incur can in a moment dash years of merit. It corrodes the protective aura that spiritual merit builds.

I pray that each of us should have a Good Shabbos!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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