Worse than Murder

There are three cardinal sins: avodah zarah (idol worship), gilui arayos (illicit relations), and shefichas damim (murder). The Gemara tells us that lashon hara is worse than all of them. Failing to guard your tongue and speaking in a way that defames another Jew is worse than all three. The Chofetz Chaim is bothered by a question: it’s not true. A Jew is obligated to give up his life not to violate the three cardinal…






Acquiring Wealth

Imagine I have a good friend who owns a hedge fund. One day, he comes to me and says, “Listen, I’ve done an extensive amount of research. This company is poised for success. I’m telling you, the IPO is in two months – this is a winner.” Not being a wealthy person but not being willing to risk missing out, I take ten thousand dollars and I buy into the initial public offering. Then, just…






A Powerful Machine

Historically, documents were written by hand. A sefer Torah is written by hand. The Declaration of Independence was written by hand. In the 1850’s, you paid a scribe to write a document at a set rate of currency per one hundred words because everything had to be written at a very slow pace. With the invention of the printing press all that was to change. It was now possible to print entire pages within minutes….






A Cloak of Invisibility

Imagine that I discover a cloak of invisibility. When I put it on, I disappear from sight, “This is amazing!” I say. “No one can see me!” So I go into the bais medrash, and when a guy is looking the other way, I take away his sefer. He turns back and it’s gone. “What?” he exclaims. Another guy walks by, and I turn his sefer upside down. “Hey! What happened?” I start opening and…






Words That Hurt

One of the reasons that it’s difficult to work on not speaking lashon hara, is because it feels like  a victimless crime. After all, no one is really hurt. The Rambam, however defines lashon hara as words that hurt, words that damage. Whether they damage a person’s reputation, his financial status, or whether they embarrass him, by definition they are words that cause damage. To appreciate why the Torah takes it so seriously, the Chofetz…






Feathers in the Wind

A story is told that an older man went to see the Chofetz Chaim. He realized that his time to leave this earth was coming soon, and he wanted to put his affairs in order. He told the Chofetz Chaim, “All my life I was a merchant. People would come into my store, and I’d chat. I told stories about this one, stories about that one. I know it wasn’t right and certainly I felt…






It’s a Sin

A number of years ago in Monsey, New York, there was a community wide uproar. It was discovered, that one of the local butchers was selling treif meat. Regularly, systematically, intentionally, he sold meat that wasn’t kosher. But it wasn’t just his own butcher shop; where people bought meat. He also sold to many of the wedding halls, yeshivos, and schools. As a result, thousands of people had eaten non-kosher meat thinking it was kosher….






A Very Expensive Habit

The Orchas Tzadikim writes, that there was once a pious man who sent a beautiful gift to another individual. The gift was laden with all types of fruits and precious items. But the person who received the gift didn’t understand it. He wasn’t friendly with this righteous man; as a matter of fact, he was at odds with him. So he went to the righteous man and said, “Why did you send me this elaborate…






Reward for Not Talking

Imagine if I were to show up at the IRS office and say, “Gentlemen, I’m a pretty crafty guy. I could have paid one-tenth of my taxes with just a little bit of deviousness, so therefore, I don’t ask for that type of reduction. All I’m asking you for is 35% off of my taxes.” Needless to say, they’d laugh at me. The fact that I didn’t cheat doesn’t entitle me to a discount. So,…






Protect Your Mouth

It was the 1980’s in Queens, and quite a number of women came down with cancer. But the strange part was that it was restricted not only to a small area of Queens, but to one small area of the body. All of these women were finding cancer in their tongues, lips, and mouths. The scientists were baffled. Geographical cancer clusters were not that unusual, but that it came with such a heavy concentration in…






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