When Moshe Rabbeinu was 20 years old, he witnessed an Egyptian guard hitting a Jewish slave so hard that the Jew would be killed if he didn’t quickly intervene. Moshe looked around and made sure there were no witnesses. Then, left with no other choice, Moshe pronounced Hashem’s holiest Name, and the evil Egyptian instantly fell down dead. He knew that if this crime were discovered, he’d be in big trouble, so he buried the taskmaster and immediately fled the scene.
The next day, Moshe went out for a walk and saw two Jews arguing. Just as the tussle was escalating, Moshe once again stepped in. He couldn’t believe that with all the problems they were dealing with in Mitzrayim that they could still find a reason to fight with one another. But, as Moshe soon found out, these were not your ordinary Jews – these two were the infamous instigators, Dassan and Aviram. Dassan was so angry that Moshe was preventing him from striking his fellow that he shouted, “Who are you to tell us what to do? Are you going to kill me like you killed the Egyptian guard yesterday?”
It was then that Moshe Rabbeinu made the declaration, “Achein noda hadavar” – “Now the matter is known to me.” Rashi explains this to mean that Moshe Rabbeinu was puzzled why the Jews were suffering so terribly at the hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians; why their babies were drowned in the Nile, buried alive in the walls of Pisom and Ramses, why they had their necks slit to drain their blood to heal Pharaoh’s leprosy… Moshe Rabbeinu wondered why the Jews had to suffer over a century of avodas perech, inhumane servitude, and near spiritual annihilation here in Mitzrayim – and to what end does a Jew find himself in any future golus for that matter. However, now that Moshe Rabbeinu saw there were balei lashon hara, there were people who would slander and disregard the needs of his brethren, he said, “Now I understand why they have to suffer so much.”
Dovid HaMelech says, “L’chu vanim shim’u li, Yiras Hashem alamedchem” – “Come my children, listen to me and I will teach you Fear of Hashem.” What an exciting invitation! With such a preface, I would expect Dovid HaMelech to start discussing with us the vastness of the world, or of the wonders and the precise function of every creation. Rather, after his ‘Fear of Hashem’ intro, he seems to veer in another direction completely.
He continues, “Mi ha’ish hechafetz chaim, oheiv yomim liros tov? N’tzor l’shoncha mei’ra, u’sfasecha midabeir mirmah” – “Who is the man who desires life, loves days to see good? Guard your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from talking deceit.” This verse reveals to us a great principle, namely, that the avoidance of lashon hara is actually the gateway to acquiring Yiras Hashem. Not just that, but that enjoying and seeing good in one’s life are the inevitable result of guarding one’s tongue and avoiding evil!
What a powerful lesson for us all as we find ourselves in the home stretch of this final exile – an exile that has been needlessly prolonged by the slander and improper behavior that Moshe Rabbeinu had identified as the problem, all those years ago in Mitzrayim.
L’chu Vanim, was composed by none other than Yossi Green and comes from the 1991 release by Yigal Calek and the London School of Jewish Song. The album itself contains such classics such as “Step” and “The Forgotten Princess,” as well as the great Yiddish/Hebrew hybrid gem called, “Di Zaides.” In true London fashion, these brilliant British boys once again bring forth the powerful lesson of the song’s lyrics, all while properly entertaining us with their pure gift of song. Enjoy!