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Burst of Inspiration

#11 – Remember What Hashem Did to Miriam

Even though we haven’t dealt with all of the lo sa’asehs, I mentioned most of the more common lo sa’asehs that a person can violate, Now let’s go over to the asehs, to the positive commandments that a person can easily transgress by speaking lashon hara.

The first one the Chafetz Chaim mentions is “זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה ה’ אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְמִרְיָם בַּדֶּרֶךְ”, remember that which Hashem did to Miriam on the road. Miriam went to Aharon HaKohen saying why is it that Moshe has separated from his wife? We are also nevi’im, why is it that he feels he has to be different than us? And for that Miriam was punished, she got tzara’as, she got leprosy, some kind of tumah state and she had to leave the machaneh for seven days, she had to stay outside the encampment for seven days, a huge embarrassment to a tzadeikes of her level.

Explains the Chafetz Chaim that the Torah is teaching us a tremendous lesson there. What Miriam was saying was that why does Moshe think he is greater than us nevi’im. Miriam was the defender of Moshe. Miriam was the one who put her life on the line for her brother Moshe. Miriam was the one who loved her brother, with tremendous regard. She felt that there was something that Moshe was doing that was not right. She went to Aharon HaKohen, the gadol hador right after Moshe to ask whether it was right. Nevertheless, because she should have known better, she shouldn’t have questioned, it’s considered lashon hara and the Torah considers it so egregious that she had to suffer this public humiliation. The entire nation had to know about her being sent outside the encampment and for seven days she had to sit there.

What the Torah is telling us is that even a beloved person, even a sister speaking for the good of her brother, if she speaks lashon hara, even though she is such a tzadeikes she suffered such a punishment. And explains the Chafetz Chaim, what the Torah is telling us is remember. Because the Torah considers lashon hara not just to be a middas chassidus, like a nice idea; it’s a full prohibition.

Additionally, the Torah gives us a mitzvas aseh to always remember that which Miriam did. Much like we have a mitzvah in Shema to remember Yetzias Mitzrayim, much like we have a mitzvah to remember Shabbos with zachar, we have a mitzvah to remember that which Hashem did to Miriam to remember the seriousness of lashon hara.

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