Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


  Words Can Damage, Words Can Hurt, Words Can Annihilate


“Bilbulim”- untrue accusations, false accusations, wrongful testimony, and thoughtless derogatory statements re individuals can hurt the character of the affected, can destroy and even send the victim to prison.  We have all witnessed and or experienced the pain and destruction this has caused human beings and to a people that were thus afflicted.  The most notable of this, of course, was the Holocaust.  By one mustached, vicious killer, terrorist, psychopath, and his equally conscienceless followers,  six million innocent Yehudim were destroyed.  Among them were newborn infants, young, middle and old agers,  physically and mentally disabled, brilliant scientists and an unaccounted host of others.  How do these kinds of horrors begin?  They start with anger, with hatred, with envy, with real or imaginary deprivations, with feelings of inadequacy and with gossip, with the evil tongue, with “loshan horah”!

We have recently read about a retarded man, Anthony Capozzi, who spent many years in prison for a crime he did not commit because the detectives and other law enforcement officers did not investigate the case thoroughly and wanted to find the “killer” regardless of authenticity.  The poor man and his family suffered because of negligence and ambitious disciplinarians who wanted to arrest and convict an innocent man.  We can readily see the reason behind these actions.

Jealousy begins in the family.  One child is envious of another.  He feels the other is getting more attention from his parents.  Perhaps he does not look or feel as good as the envied one.  He will make up stories to have the sibling disciplined or he will treat his brother or sister with anger and disdain.  The biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors illustrates that so well, when his brothers threw him into an abyss and left him there to perish.

In the circle of the family we see mothers-in-law berated without any valid reason.  The wife or husband may want his spouse “all to himself” without any interference.  He therefore mistreats the in-law or implants false accusations where none belong. 

Employment or a desired position can often be spoiled with maliciousness.  A would be employee can be blackmailed by another contender who is desirous of the position or job in question.  He may pass rumors about the applicant that will damage the opportunities of the original and possibly more qualified applicant.  It also occasionally happens that a person will give a poor or mediocre reference for an excellent contender because they feel malice or rivalry toward the individual applicant.  All they need to do is plant an innuendo in the person's ear or use a negative tone in their response when discussing the would be employee.

Another case of maliciousness that came in part from feelings of not measuring up to the finances and spending of “whities” is that of a young black woman who accused a group of three allegedly wealthy student athletes at Duke University of raping her while she was performing at a party for which she was hired. She resented the young men and hoped to win a large financial “settlement” from their families.  She manipulated and managed to have the attorneys and prosecutor in question believe her falsehoods.  It was discovered that for purely political reasons the prosecutor turned against the innocent three men in question.  Ultimately, although the case was overturned, the prosecutor was dismissed, but nevertheless the hearings, the procedures and the many accusations did their share of damage to the innocent victims.

Let us as faithful and just Jews and as decent human beings be careful of our words and our actions. Never must we injure another individual with words or deeds as this is the true meaning of Judaism and of our beautiful religion. Let us reach out with our hand and our heart and uphold the ten commandments.


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of  Deviant Nurses & Improper Patient Care (2006).