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    Trouble with your tongue – M’tzora

    TongueThe name of this week’s sidra is often explained as motzi ra, uttering evil talk.

    Misusing the tongue is a major theme in Jewish ethics. Jeremiah 9:7 says a tongue is a sharpened arrow. Psalm 34:14 warns us to guard our tongues from evil. Ben Sira says (Ecclus. 28:18), “Many fall by the sword, some by the tongue”. The gift of speech can be used for good or for ill.

    The Midrash says that one day Rabban Shimon ben Gamli’el (Lev. R. 33:1) wanted something good to eat and the next day something cheap (and not necessarily good). Both days his servant brought him tongue, explaining, “The tongue can be good or evil. If you want something good, there is nothing better than a good word spoken by the tongue, but if you want something evil, there is nothing worse than a biting tongue”.

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