Parshat Mishpatim – Gemora Sota – An Alternative Loshen Hora (Evil Speech) Punishment


We had the honor of hosting my daughter Shani and her husband BJ Mermelstein for Shabbat. It was BJ’s grandfather who established Mermelstein Caterers on Kingston Ave. in Crown Heights. This store brings back memories to me as a bochur learning in Hadar Hatorah, as well as, I am sure, to the millions of Jews who visited the Rebbe.

I suddenly discovered, while Torah reading was taking place in Shul, an interesting interpretation of a verse from Parshat Mishpatim.  It is in Chapter 23 and Verse 28 to be exact. It mentions the word Ha-Tzirah, which is meant to say that G-d will send before you Tzirah insects to attack your enemies after they are thrown into confusion and turn in retreat, as it says in the previous verse.

In one version of the Chumash, Tzirah is translated to mean a Hornet, which is its translation in Modern Hebrew. But in the footnote in another version of the Chumash it seems to indicate that a Tzirah means another form of insect.

So during Shalosh Seuda, or our third meal after Mincha on Shabbat afternoon, I sat with BJ and we looked over commentaries on this particular insect. BJ immediately pointed out that a further explanation can be found in Gemora Sota, which appears on Daf 36 Aleph.

In this Gemora the explanation indicates that the Tzirah was a type of flying insect that aided the Jews in their war against the enemy during the time of Moshe. And Rav Pappa adds that there were two types of Tzirahs. One during the time of Moshe and another during the time of Joshua.

In addition, Rav Shimon Ben Lakish said that this insect stood on the east bank of the Jordan River and shot venom at the Canaanites who stood on the west bank. The venom caused two things – blinded their eyes above and rendered them sterile from below.

How Does This All Apply Today?

Firstly, let’s take a close look at the root of the word meaning Hornet. And you will easily discover that it is the same root for the word Leprosy.  Since we have already established that was the punishment for speaking Loshen Hora, then there can be, in my opinion, some connection that can be made to what is taking place today.

Democrats Were Always Pro-Israel, But Not Anymore Looking At The Primary Results So Far

Just take a look at the results from the Democratic Primaries. Bernie Sanders has won again, making it three consecutive victories. If Bernie were to win the Democratic Nomination for President at the Convention this summer, then for the first time in history, the Democratic Party would be led by a Jew.

The problem with that is Bernie speaks against the Israeli Government and wants to defend the Palestinians. As President Of United States, how would that play out when Bernie goes to meet the Israeli Prime Minister for the first time after he is elected?

How Would Bernie Sanders Handle Sunday Night’s Rocket Fire Into Israel?

The rocket fire came after Israeli troops shot dead a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group as he planted a bomb along the border. The Israeli army then retrieved his body using a bulldozer.

The Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the attack, writing on its website that it fired the rockets in response to Israel taking the terrorist operative’s corpse.

So let’s think this one through.  Islamic Jihad sends one of its members to plant a bomb and in response Israel kills the terrorist. Then Islamic Jihad attacks Israel with many rockets for killing its terrorist, who was caught on video planting that bomb.

This story has repeated itself over and over throughout the years, and Israel is blamed for acting in self-defense. So if Bernie Sanders was US President, which side would he defend? Israel, the long-time US ally, or the Palestinians?

The Kibbutz And The White House

During the last Democratic Debate in Las Vegas, Mike Bloomberg got into an argument with Bernie Sanders about who owned the most houses.

It seems Bernie’s policies encourage similar thinking to those of a Kibbutz. The Kibbutz aimed for equality, where everyone shared everything, earned the same wages and every decision was made together as a group.

Well, Bernie must remember that when he was working on a Kibbutz, everyone shared in it together, and everyone was treated equally. Therefore, when it came to housing, that worked the same way. No one person had any more rights to own or live in a larger house than the next person as I understood it.

So if Bernie Sanders becomes President, why should Bernie want to live in the White House? If he wants to change the American system to that which resembles a Kibbutz, then he should give up the right to live in the White House as well.

These Questions Can Continue To Go On And On, But The Main Point Is That Though Bernie Sanders Wants To Change The Way Democracy Operates; The Torah Does Not Work The Same Way.

Talking against Jews, not following Torah and being friendly with our sworn enemies is not a way to act as a Jew.

Bernie Sanders obviously thinks otherwise.

It remains to be seen who will finally become the Presidential Nominee for the Democratic Party. This process is only in its early stages.

Punishment can come in many ways for those who talk against Jews and Israel, as illustrated by the abovementioned Gemora Sotah.

Only Hashem has the answer regarding how this will all turn out.

About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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