Parashat Tazria

Clean Up Your Act

Living together as a community means learning to communicate effectively and respectfully.

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A Word

"Have you heard something about someone? Let it die with you. Be of good courage, it will not harm you if it ends with you" (Ben Sira 19:10).

Judaism defines lashon hara as slander, gossip, tale bearing, and all the other forms of damage to the individual and society that may be caused by words. We learn that talking about others is not recommended, even if what we say is true. And in some cases, even if what we say is positive.

Learning how to live as a community means learning how to communicate with other people. But it also means learning when not to communicate with others. There are times when saying little is better than saying a lot. Judaism encourages us to use our words thoughtfully and carefully. Otherwise we might say something we regret. And if we cannot prevent ourselves from talking to others, we might just have to remove ourselves from a situation for awhile so we can clean up our act.

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Rabbi Andrea Steinberger serves as a rabbi at the Hillel Foundation at the University of Wisconsin. Rabbi Steinberger received her ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1997 and her BA from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.