Miriam, Moses’s sister, described in the Torah as a prophet and a leader of Israel, makes a mistake in this week’s Torah portion. She speaks badly about her brother, Moses, and his wife, committing thereby the sin of Lashon Hara, gossip.
It seems like such a minor mistake. The Torah itself tells us that what she said was factually true. Speaking to her older brother, she merely pointed out Moses’s wife’s ethnicity. Yet its being true doesn’t excuse it, and God punishes her for what she said and how she said it.
As she is taught a lesson in humility, the children of Israel are also taught humility and compassion. The entire camp must wait until Miriam’s punishment clears up before they can begin travelling again.
And Moses, described in the Torah as the most humble person to have ever lived, is seen exemplifying this humility when he, himself, begs God to forgive and heal her despite the things she had said about him.
It is so easy for a person to say harmful things. It’s nearly impossible to take those words back once they have been said. But if we sincerely try to emulate Moses’s humility and avoid Lashon Hara, our lives are truly blessed.