Last week’s stretch of the week was: Try giving someone who you are upset with the benefit of the doubt. Why not look at the situation from another point of view. Were you able to make up 3 other reasons why it happened?
לא תלך רכיל בעמיך/לא תשא שמע שוא
Lo Saylaych Rachil B'Amecha/Lo Seesa Shaima Shov
Do Not Be A Gossipmonger/Do Not Accept a False Report
The Torah tells us, “Do not be a gossipmonger”, Vayikra 19:16, and “Do not accept a false report”, Sh'mos 23:1.
Miriam The Robber
“I can’t believe that Miriam is in Mrs. Shepfield’s class with us,” I said to my best friend as we jumped onto our swings, side-by-side at the park.
“Yeah, last year the girls at her old school called her trouble.”
“Whadaya mean?” I shook my head. “Isn’t that gossip?”
“Nah!” Sara continued, “Did ya know that she supposedly stole jewelry from a few of the girls in that school?”
We swung back and forth while schmoozing until our legs ached. All the while I kept thinking to myself, Miriam the Robber. But how could she? She’s so nice.
“I wonder how she was caught?” I blurted out as my friend and I jumped off the swings to lay on the grass. Then something strange happened, out of the corner of my eye I saw a familiar face.
“Hi girls!” Mrs. Shepfield stood up from a bench only a few feet away, behind the swings. We hadn’t noticed anyone sitting near us at all while we were swinging and having fun. Mrs. Shepfield pushed her blue baby carriage and exited the park. “See you in class tomorrow!”
I was the first to speak. “I can’t believe that she was behind us.”
“Do you think she heard us?” Sara’s mouth dropped. “I’ll feel horrible if she did.”
The very next day in school, I sat next to Miriam in Mrs. Shepfield’s history class. Throughout class we took turns reading out loud. Each time I noticed that Miriam raised her hand to volunteer. I wondered why Mrs. Shepfield never once called on her. “Could Mrs. Shepfield have heard us yesterday?” I thought.
After class I ran over to Sara to see if she had also noticed. She wasn’t sure.
And then it happened. One week later, a girl in our class named Leah noticed that her favorite antique silver charm bracelet was missing. At recess, I noticed Leah asking Mrs. Shepfield to make an announcement.
“Leah’s missing her charm bracelet.” Mrs. Shepfield’s soft voice now sounded deep like a bass drum. I thought I saw her glance directly at Miriam.
All the girls bent down to search the floor, but to no avail. We all searched, but came up with nothing.
I looked up and noticed Sara’s brown eyes open super wide and glaring at Miriam. Meanwhile Miriam bent down to check the floor near her desk. When the bracelet didn’t show up, Mrs. Shepfield told the class that she’d stay late to look for it.
The next day in school, Leah came to class with a big smile on her face. She must’ve repeated her story over and over again about how she had found her watch under her bed at home. She had mistakenly dropped it, and found it. She was thrilled.
Mrs. Shepfield smiled and spoke to the class. “I’m glad that Leah found her watch, and I wonder how many of us thought that maybe someone in our class had taken it.”
My face felt hot and I glanced at Sara who shrugged.
“Please don’t tell me your answers,” she continued. “But let this incident be a lesson to us that sometimes we might jump to conclusions.”
“And that’s how rumors get started!” Miriam spoke with a loud voice.
Story published in the Baltimore Jewish Times, January 24, 2014.
How can some relaxed talk amongst friends turn into a harmful situation?
How could the girls have stayed clear from the above prohibitions?
Stretch of the Week:
This week take it upon yourself to be extra careful not to listen to Lashon Hara. If you happen to be somewhere where you overhear someone talking about someone else, in your mind, repeatedly say to yourself “I do not accept or believe what they are saying”.