Whoever the Man Desiring Life Keep Your Tongue from Evil and Your Lips from Speaking Deceit

by tillerofthesoil

527143_10152004016750160_587940265_n“In the West [i.e., the Land of Israel] they say: Talk about third [persons] kills three: him who tells [the slander], him who accepts it, and him about whom it is told. Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina said: What is the meaning of: Death and life are in the hand of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)? Has the tongue ‘a hand’? It tells you that just as the hand can kill, so can the tongue. One might say that just as the hand can kill only one near it, thus also the tongue can kill only one near it, therefore it says: Their tongue is a sharpened arrow (Jeremiah 19:7)” (BT Arakhin 15b).

Place, O YHWH, a watch on my mouth, a guard at the door of my lips (Psalms 141:3).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya opened with the following verse: You shall not curse the deaf… (Leviticus 19:14)—according to its literal meaning, but from this entire portion we learn other matters, and all are interdependent. Come and see: Whoever curses his fellow in his presence, humiliating him, is as though he spills blood, as we have established (BT Bava Metsi’a 58b). This verse, however, refers to when one’s fellow is not with him and he curses him—that word ascends. ‘There is not a single word issuing from one’s mouth that lacks a voice. This voice ascends and is joined by many quaestors [Roman prosecutors], until it rises and arouses the place of the Great Abyss, as has been established. How many are roused against this person!

Woe to one from whose mouth issues an evil word, as has been established. Before the blind you shall not put a stumbling block (ibid.)—according to its literal meaning; and they have established it as referring to one who causes another to sin (BT Pesaḥim 22b), and also to one who strikes his grown son (BT Mo’ed Qatan 17a). Before the blind you shall not put a stumbling block—referring to one who has not attained the qualification to render legal decisions and yet does so, as we have learned (BT Sotah 22a, cf. Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Talmud Torah 5:4), for it is written for many the victims she has felled… (Proverbs 7:26). This one transgresses and before the blind you shall not put a stumbling block, for he causes his fellow to stumble in the world that is coming [cf. BT Gittin 43a: This stumbling block is in your hands (Isaiah 3:6). One does not understand words of Torah unless one has stumbled over them]” (Zohar 3:84b-85b).

Whoever the man desiring life, who loves long days to see good, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit (Psalms 34:13-14, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 19b).

“Do not read You are עַמִּי (ammi), My people (Jeremiah 30:3), but rather You are עִמִּי (immi), with Me, becoming My partner! Just as I made heaven and earth by speaking, as is said: By the word of YHWH, the heavens were made (Psalms 33:6), so do you. Happy are those engaged in Torah!” (Zohar 1:5a).

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