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Daily Mitzvah

Negative Commandment 256, 301, 304, 305

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Negative Commandment 256 (Digest)
Mistreating Widows and Orphans

"You shall not afflict any widow or orphan"—Exodus 22:21.

We are forbidden to distress a widow or young orphan. We may not upset these downtrodden individuals through harsh words or actions. Instead we are to interact with them gently and with empathy for their plight. Indeed, the Torah assures us that G‑d listens to the cry of the widow and orphan, and metes out severe punishments to those who torment them.

Negative Commandment 301 (Digest)

"You shall not go around as a tale-bearer among your people"Leviticus 19:16.

It is forbidden to relay information about one individual to another—even if the information is one hundred percent true, and even if there is nothing objectionable about the actions that you are reporting.

The prohibition is understandably exacerbated if one libels another.

Negative Commandment 304 (Digest)

"You shall not take revenge"Leviticus 19:18.

We are forbidden to avenge one bad deed with another. A typical example of the revenge that the Torah prohibits: David asks Isaac to lend him his scythe, and Isaac refuses. Next day, Isaac needs an axe, and asks David whether he can borrow his. "I will not lend you my axe," David responds, "just as you didn't lend me your scythe..."

Negative Commandment 305 (Digest)
Bearing a Grudge

"You shall not bear any grudge"Leviticus 19:18.

We are not allowed to bear a grudge against another – even if we never act upon the grudge.

For example: David asks Isaac to lend him his scythe, and Isaac refuses. Next day, Isaac needs an axe, and asks David whether he can borrow his. "I will lend you my axe," David responds, "I am not like you who refused to lend me your scythe..."

Translation of (the unabridged text of) Sefer Hamitzvot by Rabbi Berel Bell, member of the Rabbinical Court of Montreal and director of Teacher Training for the Jewish Learning Institute.

From "Sefer Hamitzvot in English," published by Sichos in English.
Daily Quote
"Mitzrayim" (Egypt) means constriction, limitation. The spiritual Egyptian exile is the animal soul's restricting and concealing the G-dly soul so severely that the G-dly soul is compressed to the degree that it is diminished and obscured. "Exodus from Egypt" is the removal of the constriction and bounds; i.e. the intellect in the brain illuminates the heart, bringing about fine character traits translated into actual practice...
  –Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch (as quoted in Hayom Yom, Shevat 4)
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