Judaism is intensely aware of the power of speech and of the harm that can be done through speech. The rabbis note that the universe itself was created through speech. Of the 43 sins enumerated in the Al Cheit confession recited on Yom Kippur, 11 are sins committed through speech. The Talmud tells that the tongue is an instrument so dangerous that it must be kept hidden from view, behind two protective walls (the mouth and teeth) to prevent its misuse.
The harm done by speech is even worse than the harm done by stealing or by cheating someone financially: money lost can be repaid, but the harm done by speech can never be repaired. For this reason, some sources indicate that there is no forgiveness for lashon ha-ra (disparaging speech). This is probably hyperbole, but it illustrates the seriousness of improper speech. A Chasidic tale vividly illustrates the danger of improper speech: A man went about the community telling malicious lies about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, "Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds." The man thought this was a strange request, but it was a simple enough task, and he did it gladly. When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, "Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers."
I was reminded of the above anecdote when I read a JPOST article which began with the following words:
Fox News mistakenly reported on Monday that a newly circumcised infant had contracted HIV in New York after undergoing metzitza b’peh...
After reading how Fox News had erred, I went to the article to see if there was a correction at the end of the article in which there was an acknowledgement of the mistake. There was no clue that the article had been updated from a previous version, except that some of the words were now missing in the updated version. Many who linked to the article or started forum discussions about how the baby contactraced HIV have not updated their links to the new version.
Two infants contract herpes following circumcision
After undergoing an orthodox circumcision ritual, two infant boys have contracted herpes, the New York City Department of Health said yesterday.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/04/08/two-infants-contract-herpes-following-circumcision-one-tests-positive-for-hiv/#ixzz2Q64VZ7Ib
Two infants contract herpes following circumcision; one tests positive for HIV
After undergoing an orthodox circumcision ritual, two infant boys have contracted herpes - with one testing positive for HIV-1, the New York City Department of Health said yesterday.
Click here to read cached version.