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People who gossip do so because they do not feel good about themselves. People who attempt to isolate others do so because they themselves are isolated and lonely. Those who try to destroy other people's happiness are themselves unhappy. But they are too weak, or too cowardly, to deal with their personal issues. So they put down and disparage others, in hopes that it will make them feel better than others.

Rabbi Allouche

Some governments are famous for their absurd laws.

In Singapore, chewing gum carries a fine of $1000. Failure to flush a public toilet after use, and spitting in the street, will also result in hefty fines.

In the Philippines, you can be charged with the crime of “unjust vexation” for doing just that: vexing someone.

In Thailand, it is illegal to step on money.

In China, the law states it is illegal for adult children to not visit their parents “often” in China. They are also required to attend to their parent’s spiritual needs.

And in this very country, in Arkansas, USA, there still exists a law that was drafted in the 1800s that states a husband is allowed to beat his wife, but only once a month!

Some three thousand years ago, our nation also faced a bizarre law. If a person gossiped, his skin, and the walls of his house were inflicted with Tzara’at, a form of leprosy. This person was also quarantined, and banned from interacting with people for at least seven days!

But why quarantine this person and isolate him far from people? Wasn’t the debilitating Tzara’at disease enough to punish the gossiper?

The answer is powerful and it relates to the root of why people gossip:
For why do people gossip? Where does this urge come from? Why degrade and hurt someone else? Don’t we have anything better to say or do?

People who gossip do so because they do not feel good about themselves. People who attempt to isolate others do so because they themselves are isolated and lonely. Those who try to destroy other people’s happiness are themselves unhappy. But they are too weak, or too cowardly, to deal with their personal issues. So they put down and disparage others, in hopes that it will make them feel better than others.

This is why the gossiper had to isolate himself. G-d wanted to provide the gossiper with an opportunity to take some time off for self-reflection and introspection. This would encourage the gossiper to face, and tackle, his inner demons. In the presence of others, he could only see the richness that others had and he lacked. Alone with himself, he would be able to see the richness within, that he never knew he had. This was therapy par excellence.

Margaret Thatcher, the famed British icon, once wrote: “Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”

May we all be blessed with the wisdom to know when to use them, and to know when to remain silent. Amen.