From the Desk - Lashon Hara
Shalom Friends! It's been a great week at Beth Ora! Last Shabbat, we were privileged to hear from two candidates for the Liberal nomination. Both candidates spoke very nicely and the morning culminated in an interesting and entertaining discussion at the Kiddush! After Shabbat, we held a successful event for parents and children featuring Havdallah, coloring and learning and preparing Mishloach Manot packages. This was a fun week for the kids as Tuesday night saw the annual Hamantaschen making. Yasher Koach to Howie Brown for running the event. Click here to see some photos of these successful events. The action continues this weekend as we hold our special Kehillah Shabbat in honour of the women of Beth Ora. In the Purim story, there is a plan to annihilate the Jews but that plan is turned around as the Jews are allowed to defend themselves. Similarly, Haman had planned to kill his adversaries but, as it turns out, it is Haman who is hung. Because of these examples and others, the idea of reversal is a major theme in the Purim story. This Shabbat, you will see a number of reversals. You'll hear a sermon from the Rebbetzin and some singing from the Rabbi (I know that, in revealing this, I'm risking us not getting a minyan this Shabbat!). We will also have the men serving the women at the Kiddush (I won't comment as to whether this is another example of reversal...). It promises to be a wonderful Shabbat and it's Carly and my Aluminum Wedding Anniversary and we invite you all to join us at the Kiddush to celebrate. Of course, the fun continues on Purim itself as we invite you to join us at our Megillah Reading and Purim Carnival on Saturday evening at 7:15. I hope you all received and enjoyed the Purim guide that we recently sent out. You can find there a range of resources which will help with Purim celebrations. In particular, we mention the four mitzvot of Purim, which is also discussed in my video here. In that video, I emphasised the mitzvah of giving food to our friends and I urge you all to take my advice as to the best way of doing that. In this email though, I want to follow the halakhic authorities in emphasising that one should spend more money on giving to the poor than on buying food gifts for friends. On both the evening of Purim and in the morning, I will be collecting money which will be distributed to poor people in Montreal later on in the day. Please take advantage of this opportunity to do a mitzvah to help others. In my sermon on Shabbat, I spoke about how we reach our greatness when we concentrate on giving rather than receiving. Click here for more on this topic. We wish you all a Shabbat Shalom and a Purim Sameach, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal With... Saying Something Bad About Someone When What You're Saying is True? This question was asked by Bernie Weinstein. The prohibition against lashon hara restricts our speaking negatively of someone else, even if what we are saying is true. One of the reasons for this is that it is often the case that things that we think are true, actually aren't true or don't constitute the full story. We all have cognitive biases and we can make mistakes in our understanding. But more than this, even if someone has done something wrong, that doesn't give us the right to cause them harm. Whenever we speak badly of others, we are likely to cause them reputational damage which may lead to damage in other respects as well. Lashon hara is also bad for society. It undermines trust and makes people suspicious of one another. Nevertheless, Judaism is not a superficial faith and its deep perspective reveals complexities. There are times when people must make hard truths public. For example, it is often necessary to say negative things to protect yourself or others or to protect society. There is much to learn about this and one needs to develop a sensitivity over the course of a lifetime. But suffice to say that someone doing something wrong does not in itself justify our causing them damage by speaking negatively about them to others.