Our Long Dark Golus

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As Moshe took his first tour of the Jewish section in Mitzrayim he was appalled at
the sight of an Egyptian taskmaster brutally hitting a Jewish worker. Moshe could not
tolerate such inhumane behavior so he immediately uttered the Shem HaMeforash
and the Egyptian fell dead at once.
Word spread swiftly. There was a young man by the name of Moshe who lived
on Pharaoh’s palace that killed an Egyptian taskmaster for having beaten a Jew.
The story spread quickly. Imagine how proud the Jews must have felt that there was
finally someone in the king’s palace that did not tolerate the Egyptian brutality and
came to the rescue of a Jew. He even had the power to kill with a word alone. What
a deadly power he possessed. The amazing story soon spread far and wide. It was
whispered and repeated everywhere. Certainly such gossip could cause no harm, or
could it?
The next day when Moshe went out, he beheld a sight that was even more
frightening. This time it was one Jew hitting another Jew. He immediately stepped
up to the aggressor and said, “Rosho, why do you hit your friend?” Yet the answer
he received was a shocker! “You think that you will kill me as you did that Egyptian
yesterday?” was the man’s reply.
The Medrash says that Moshe was completely taken aback by this answer. How
could this person have known that he had killed an Egyptian unless some people
were guilty of tale bearing? That people had dared repeat what he had done to the Egyptian was absolutely astounding. Didn’t they realize that his life was in grave
danger if they would find out what he did? If Jews could be guilty of spreading gossip
of such delicate nature, then he was extremely worried that they would chas v’sholom
not be worthy of being redeemed from Mitzrayim. The entire redemption of
the yidden was put into jeopardy because of those Jews who spread gossip.
From here one can see at once how dangerous it is to spread gossip. So much so,
that it threatens the very redemption of the yidden.
Moshe had often wondered, says the Medrash (see Rashi ), why the Bnai Yisroel
were being treated in such a harsh and unfair manner. Why were they being singled
out from among all the rest of the nations? Why were they being tortured and
mistreated? What had they done wrong to deserve this terrible Golus? When he
heard this obnoxious answer, he finally understood the reason for everything. It
suddenly became clear. They were guilty of spreading gossip. Gossip was rampant.
He now realized that their suffering might be justified. He now understood why they
had been singled out for so much pain. So much for the Medrash, which is also
brought down by Rashi. Yet, it is very important that this very short Medrash be read
over and over again until its meaning sinks into each and every one of us until we
clearly comprehend the grave danger of simple gossip! Unfortunetly, we now have
newspapers, faxes, radios, and the Internet, which have helped gossip explod to
epidemic proportions and within seconds we know what’s happening over the entire
world. Even the Jewish media has become contaminated with news in the form of
gossip. Had the incident with Moshe happened in our times you can be sure it would
have filled the airwaves, blog sites, and every newspaper.
Certainly nobody thought there was anything wrong or disrespectful in repeating
the fascinating story of Moshe killing the Egyptian. It certainly would have made the
front pages of today’s Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Press, or the 10 o’clock news. The
Jews were proud of what Moshe had done. It must have been repeated with great joy
and pride. A Jew had finally taught an Egyptian taskmaster a lesson he well deserved.
Certainly nobody meant Moshe any harm. They were just reporting the news! Yet,
just notice how it was now being used against him. It was being used to blackmail
him. He would soon be denounced to the king and be accused of murder.
Little do we realize what a supposedly innocent word can lead to. Sometimes
we may even think we are being helpful, yet it may turn out that we are causing the
greatest harm. Modern technology has made the spreading of gossip so easy that
telephones all generate business by spreading information lots of which is gossip and
may be very harmful. Few bother asking a sheiloh before conveying any information.
Will it be harmful? Is it allowed? Does it contain any loshon hora? Perhaps it’s motzi
shem ra? We’ve become so calloused to gossip that we don’t even realize its deadly
poison. We read articles in newspapers without even batting an eyelash, even though
it may be filled from cover to cover with rechilus, loshon hora, and motzi shem ra!
An article in the Jerusalem Post reporting that some rabbi burned a copy of the
New Testament that one of his students brought to school is just an example of
how a newspaper can pour fuel on a fire and spread hatred. A recent article in the
Forwards was also guilty of spreading hatred against frum Jews. Not everything must
be reported in the papers. It can be very damaging! Let the proper authorities deal
with the matter discreetly.
When will we come to our senses and realize the great damage we are doing to
ourselves? Isn’t 1900 years in golus enough? Don’t we realize as Moshe so clearly
says that all out suffering and pain is on the account of gossip? Don’t we realize that
this sin is so deadly that it puts the very geuloh into jeopardy?
It may be true – learning to shut our mouth may not be easy. Learning to shut
one’s ears and eyes to what’s happening all around us is certainly a most difficult
task. Yet, let’s just realize the terrible consequences of this type of talk. Let’s learn
from this short Medrash the great danger of spreading gossip. Next time we want to
tell your friend something, we’d better think it over very carefully before we say it.
Make sure we’re not guilty of spreading gossip, loshon hora or rechilus.
One of the greatest reasons for the spreading of gossip is curiosity. We are
curious to know everything that’s happening. We must be kept abreast of the latest
developments. In order to combat gossip we must stop being so curious. Sometimes,
the less we know the better off we’ll be. We have to learn to contain our curiosity.
Let’s train our ears not to listen to all foolish nonsense happening around us. Let’s be
extremely careful not to listen to any gossip. Only by controlling our curiosity can we
hope to eliminate this very grave sin.
As the Yidden begin their long, dark and bitter golus in Mitzrayim, Hashem first
counts them in order to show us that despite the great suffering they are about to
experience, each and every one of them is important and precious to Him. While
we may not know the reason for all the suffering, we must always realize whatever
Hashem does, He does for our own benefit despite our lack of comprehension.