shmirat haloshon - Controversy is Controversial

            This post is dedicated in merit that Hershel ben Etya Sarah have a yeshuah.

By Shoshana Rosa

People shouldn't poke their noses into other peoples' business. The Chofez Chaim introduces this idea in his sefer (book) on Shmirat haLoshon with a phrase from the Book of Numbers: G-d tell Moshe, " as not to be like Korach and his party" (Numbers 17:5). Korach was a first cousin of Aharon and Moshe's. Determined to play a hand in serving G-d at the mishkan (tabernacle), a job which G-d had designated only for Aharon and his sons, Korach began a dispute with Moshe, seeking to undermine the nation's leader, and in effect, the high priest Aharon. Korach swept his entire family and 250 men, most of them from the neighboring tribe Reuven, into the midst of this argument. For many, their end came by fire; Korach's family was swallowed up by the earth.  Why did all these people meet such a finale judgment? Firstly, Korach was in the wrong. Next, the people who mixed in had no business getting involved. One might argue that in the frenzy of action, they blurred the sometimes subtle difference between truth and falsehood i.e. is this really what G-d wants or not? Therefore, G-d tells us to stay away from bad neighbors.

There are two specific kinds of people who need, by special invitation, to be told not to get involved in a controversy. The first of these are those who are either born controverts or ones who enjoy initiating arguments. The second of these is the naive innocent, that sweet wisp of humanity who tries bringing peace between two warring parties and ends up getting pulled to pieces from all sides. 

Finally, one should generally remain on the outskirts (or, to be more accurate, completely removed) from machloket (disagreements). Yet what if it is necessary to get involved? What if the situation calls for the opinion or helping hand of a third party? If you carry an awareness of the first two paragraphs in your heart, then yes, perhaps you might invite yourself to the table of several disputers. You are more objective; your actions do not stem from emotion alone. In this way, you might actually be able to help instead of getting dragged down with the others.

One of my relatives is a born instigator. She loves going to work, egging on different co workers and leaving at the end of the day satisfied with the emotional carnage she left behind. Another relative of mine is the product of a broken home. She once confessed that she spent many a confused night crying herself to sleep because everyone was mad at her. When I asked her why she related the events that led up to her misery: her parents would be fighting and she would try to make them apologize to one another. Instead, two irritated adults would send her to her room. 

The Chofez Chaim advises us, simply avoid getting involved. You won't hear loshon hara, and at the end of the day, you'll have more of a guarantee that no one is upset with you.   

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