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Daily Aliya for Ki Tetzei, Shishi (6th Aliya)

Aliya Summary: More mitzvot: A newlywed man is exempt from military service for a full year. It is forbidden to accept utensils used to prepare food as loan security or to forcibly take a debtor’s possessions as collateral, and a poor man’s security must be temporarily returned to him on a daily basis. Kidnapping is a capital offense. We are commanded to always remember that Miriam was afflicted with tzara’at for speaking badly about Moshe.

We are instructed to be cautious and meticulous about tzara’at, the affliction for speaking Lashon Hara (slander about others). As if the double warning wasn’t enough to make the point, the very next Passuk (24:9) tells us to remember what happened to Miriam when she spoke Lashon Hara about Moshe. Obviously two Pessukim (verses) and three warnings means that Lashon Hara is a pretty big deal. Sifri explains that the first two warnings are for us not to hide the symptoms if afflicted with tzara’at (do not peel the skin or cut away any spots), which makes sense if the symptoms are to serve as a deterrent. As for Miriam: Lashon Hara differs from defamation in that its focus is on the use of true speech for a wrongful purpose, rather than falsehood and harm arising. Surely Miriam justified her words with the benefits of speaking, but the ends didn’t justify the means. The third warning is then to avoid that justification that even Miriam can fall for.