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Worse than a murder

Talmud in Arakhin 15a states that “one who utters malicious speech with his mouth is a more severe sinner than one who acts.” As we already know, the punishment for malicious speech is a variety of skin diseases, usually translated as “leprosy.”

The connection between the “hidden sin” of the malicious speech and the visibility of the skin afflictions is clear. Sinning “in private” is still sinning. The later exposure of the sinner to the community and the lengthy and costly purification ensures that the others will think twice before spreading the evil slander.

However, there is a modern angle to the commandments, prohibiting the malicious slander. Torah concentrates on gossip about private people, but evil and deceitful propaganda directed against another country is no less slanderous. It inevitably leads to murder and destruction, as we see in the ongoing war against Ukraine perpetrated by Russia.

Every propaganda lie is the cause of countless death and immeasurable suffering, as has been stated in Talmud.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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