Deadly Gossip

First posted on The Times of Israel at:

Baal Haturim Genesis: Vayeshev

Deadly Gossip

Fire and swords are slow engines of destruction, compared to the tongue of a Gossip. -Sir Richard Steele

In my current role, many people seek my intervention in a variety of personal issues. Usually they tell me details of matters that personally affect them. However, once in a while, they will start to gossip. That is when I respectfully, but firmly, ask them to stop gossiping.

On one particular occasion, I asked the speaker to stop and I quoted to him the Talmudic dictum that the Baal Haturim on Genesis 37:2 references: Gossip kills three different people. It kills the one who speaks it, it kills the one who is spoken about and it kills the one who is listening. A week later one of those three was killed in a tragic accident.

The Talmud further states that gossip is worse than murder, adultery and idolatry combined. I finally understood that it is more than exaggerated rhetoric. The three cardinal sins break the bonds of life, of marriage and of faith respectively. Gossip breaks all of these and more. It breaks the bonds of friendship and of community that are just as vital, if not more so than life, marriage and faith. I have seen this happen. I have seen the consequences of gossip. I have seen the destroyed lives.

So let’s control ourselves. Let’s think before we share that juicy bit of gossip. It is deadly – and you never know who will be the next fatal victim.

Shabbat Shalom,



To all those who restrain themselves from gossiping. And to all those completing the 3-year study cycle of Maimonides’ Mishne Torah. The new cycle starts this Sunday. Join us!







Leave a Reply