Rabbi Michael Barclay
An Open Letter to Rep. Adam Schiff: Stop Spreading Accusatory Gossip about Trump
Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Dear Mr. Schiff:
As a rabbi in your home state of California, thank you for your service, dedication, and passion in serving our nation. There is no doubt that you courageously battle for your beliefs with all your might, and whether someone agrees or disagrees with you, we each should respect and honor you for consistently working for what you believe is best for this country.
It is out of this respect for you that I implore you to remember the teachings of your Jewish ancestors while you are in the midst of controversy… especially with regard to Jewish teachings about lashon haram, “the evil tongue”.
Otherwise known as gossip, our ancient sages taught that the evil tongue is equivalent to theft, murder, and idolatry combined, and that it was the reason for the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. It is the cause of “baseless hatred” between people. It “murders” the person being spoken about. It “steals” from the listener the opportunity to form their own opinion. And it presents the one gossiping as an “idol” — a person who feels they have the “right” to gossip. It is a sin for which there is no cure in this world, and damages the soul as much or more than any other action.
You are clearly in a challenging position. The pressure from your Republican colleagues, many of whom are probably old friends, is substantial. You have made your personal feelings about President Trump clear, and it must be incredibly difficult to work with someone you clearly dislike for the benefit of the country. But please, do not lose your own soul in the process by spreading that evil tongue through the media, and as a result, the world. For the sake of the nation, and of your own spirit, remember the teachings of your ancestors.
If you believe in your heart that there is still an issue of collusion with Russia and president Trump, it is incumbent upon you to investigate that to the fullest extent. But take a lesson from Robert Mueller, and for the sake of shalom bayit, “peace in the house,” please do not continue in this painful practice of making public accusations against the president in the media. Until your investigation is completed, have the respect not only for the people of this country and for the office of the presidency, but for your own well being, to not cause more baseless hatred by continuing to spread accusatory gossip when you have not completed a full investigation. Err on the side of caution, for the benefit of all of us as well as yourself, and please refrain from continuing the inflammatory gossip that you have been spreading.
I am not familiar with your background or knowledge of Jewish practices. We are taught that in ancient times even some of the great rabbis succumbed to this temptation of “the evil tongue,” and as a result, the temple was destroyed and Israel conquered. Please find the wisdom inside yourself to not make the same mistake…and instead, act to preserve our nation and the House.
Again, thank you for your service and your passion. But please remember to heed the tradition of your ancestors and pause before making public accusations… for the benefit of both your soul and our country.
B’shalom u’vracha — with peace and blessings,
Rabbi Michael Barclay