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July 22, 2012 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Devarim

In this week’s Torah portion, Moses gives the Jews a history lesson; for example, he discusses his decision to appoint judges (Deut. 1:9-18). Nachmanides asks why Moses fails to mention his father-in-law Jethro (who gave him the idea). The commentator suggests that “it would not be to his honor to mention to that generation that he had married a Cushite woman.”

But why would this be a problem?  Is he ashamed of his wife?  Not necessarily.  A footnote to the Nachmanides commentary, written by Charles Chavel, suggests that “he avoided referring to it in order to prevent [Jews] from stumbling into evil speech.”  In other words, perhaps Nachmanides is saying that Moses thought: if I talk about X (my wife), or even hint at X by discussing a related topic (here, my wife’s father) people will engage in lashon hara (negative talk) about X.  Therefore, better not to do it.

How does this intepretation apply to you and me?  It suggests that if there’s something about us that could lead to lashon hara about us we shouldn’t mention it, to avoid leading others into sin.  A pretty high and noble standard- though I think not very practical for most of us, since its hard to know what people are interested enough it to engage in lashon hara about.

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One Comment

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  1. Shira Salamone / Jul 25 2012 4:38 pm

    Sorry, I don’t buy it. Moshe failed to give credit to his teacher. Period. Even Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses Our Teacher) wasn’t perfect. Nachmanides doesn’t accept the idea that Moshe was imperfect and tries to make excuses for him. In my opinion, this is no different than the current trend, among the Chareidim/very-right-wing Orthodox, to whitewash the biographies of great rabbis and Torah scholars by conveniently forgetting to mention anything in their backgrounds that would be unacceptable in current Chareidi practice. (“What do you mean, Rav Z used to wear a white straw hat in the summer?! Everyone knows that a truly-Frum Torah-True Jew wears a black hat only! Heaven forbid that we should print such an “incriminating” photo in his biography!”)

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