Everyone wants to contribute something significant to the world, to play a meaningful part in the cosmic symphony we call life. This desire is an inherent part of being human. We yearn to expand beyond our limited sphere of existence, to become a part of something meaningful, something infinitely greater than ourselves. Although often channeled through ego and the desire for fame, this yearning stems from a deep, spiritual place. We possess a deep inner knowledge that, at root, we are part of something infinitely greater than ourselves. Each of us is a unique and irreplaceable piece in a collective whole that transcends the sum of its parts. The question in life is not whether we wish to accomplish something significant with our gift of life, the question is how. How can I become more self-aware, more disciplined, more caring, more successful? This is the human saga, a tale of struggle and progress, setback and growth. This theme is powerfully expressed in this week’s parshah, Acharei Mos.

In Parshas Tazria, we are introduced to the prohibition of Lashon HaRa (Evil Speech) along with many of its details. What exactly is the nature of lashon ha’ra? There is a common misconception that lashon ha’ra refers only to sharing false information about another person. People claim that if something is true, however, there is nothing wrong with sharing it. You’ll therefore often hear people say: “But it’s true,” as if this is a good defense, exonerating themselves from any possible wrongdoing. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a separate prohibition of lying. The Torah prohibition of lashon ha’ra refers specifically to sharing true information about someone in order to harm him. In order to understand the prohibition against lashon ha’ra, we must clarify why we may not say something hurtful about another person, even if it is true.

“Yisro, the minister of Midian, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard all that G-d did to Moshe and to Yisrael, His people – that Hashem took Yisrael out of Egypt.”

And Hashem said to Avram, “Go for yourself from your land, from your birth place, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

B’reishis 12:1