The Ultimate Destination Spot

In Parashat Tetzaveh, Aaron is given instruction on how to properly visit the Tabernacle.

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Using the Power of Speech Constructively

But why then do the Rabbis link entering (and exiting) a person's home respectfully with using the power of speech constructively? It seems that the first is the precondition for the second. In our travels, if we fail to approach other peoples' homelands with humility, and if we fail to see the people we meet there as reflections of God's divine image, then it will be impossible to speak about them later in a way that honors their full dignity. We will inevitably fall into lashon hara.
ajws tetzaveh
Yet even if we approach others' homelands with respect, how can we guarantee that our words upon return will not do harm? In parallel, how could the High Priest have ensured that the golden bells would have the desired effect as their sound rang out in the Tabernacle? The key may be the pomegranates, a symbol of beauty, fertility, wisdom and good deeds.

The bells and pomegranates had to go together. According to Ramban, the pomegranates were hollow sheaths of yarn that actually housed the bells inside them. We can learn from this that in order for the bells to atone for lashon hara, they had to be encased in these symbols of wisdom and teaching. So too, only wise words, carefully chosen to illuminate and educate, to spread Torah and Divinity in the world, can avert the dangers of lashon hara.

Only by approaching our travels to developing countries the way Aaron did when he visited God's house can we ensure that our words spoken back home will honor the people we met and spread wisdom among our listeners. If we succeed, our travels will bear the fruit of increased understanding and justice in the relationships among the diverse peoples of the world.

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Guy Izhak Austrian

Guy Izhak Austrian is a community organizer and rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary.