I have an early childhood recollection of walking from Shul with my father and older brother. To keep me entertained, my brother would tell me, “Look, it appears the moon is following you.” He said, “Watch, if you go to the left of me, or to the right of me, the moon will always follow you.” I recall playing along with his cute prank.

Recently, I read a tale of a distraught person who came to a rabbi with an issue he wished the rabbi could resolve. “You see, whenever I walk at night, the moon is always following me. Please, I know that you are holy and have connections up above, can you please tell the moon to leave me alone and pick on someone else!” The rabbi assured the man that he would do his best, and he should return in three days when he would have a response.

Early the third day, the man appeared at the rabbi’s study anticipating a firm resolution to his issue with the moon. The rabbi told him I finally got in touch with the moon, and the moon told me that the only time that he follows you – is when you look up at the moon!

There is a hidden brilliance within this silly tale. Often, we are anxious and uneasy imagining or projecting upon others that they are snooping into our business. It is best for each of us to remain focused on our objectives without looking around at who may be following us. It is only when we look for who is looking, that we’ll notice them.

This may be a pointless idea while we are so wrapped up within the social media culture which promotes flaunting and displaying what we have, where we are, and who we are with, all in the interest of being noticed and commented on.

In this week’s Parsha the Torah describes the eight vestments of the Kohain Godol / High Priest. Our Sages tell us that each of the garments atoned for a particular sin. For example, the Me’il – a cloak that had bells on its bottom ― atoned for speaking Lashon Harah. Its bells represented the ill chatter that a person spoke concerning another.

The Torah also speaks about the construction of a golden Incense Altar that is housed in the holy area of the Temple. Our Sages tell us that the incense offering atoned for the sin of Loshon Harah as well. “Let the incense offering that is performed quietly in the Temple atone for the sin of Loshon Harah that is shared with others in hushed tones.”

The incense offering was performed twice daily in the Temple. Each time it coincided with the Menorah service. In the morning the incense was offered when the Kohain cleaned out the residue of the Menorah’s burnt wicks and installed new wicks and refilled the oil. In the evening, the incense offering was performed at the time when the Kohain lit the Menorah.

Commentators point out that both the illumination of the Menorah and the delicious scent of the incense, radiated and aromatized the air over long distances.

A parallel between the two can be understood as follows: The illumination of the Menorah represents the Ohr – light of Torah. Even though the Menorah had only seven flames and was performed within the Temple, its radiance projected to far distances. The idea is that when one studies the Torah, whether in the privacy of one’s home, office, shul, Yeshiva, or while traveling, the aura and spirit of the Torah is not just contained in the place where it was studied. Rather, its spiritual energy projects and protects to far distances just as the illumination of the Menorah did from the inner chamber of the Temple.

The fragrant incense offering was performed from a rather small altar, yet its aroma projected all the way to the city of Jericho. While the incense offering atoned for the sin of Loshon Harah, it produced a delicious aroma that wafted for miles.

Our sense of smell is unique for it is not seen, tasted or even felt like the vibrations of sound. Perhaps, the idea is that just like the invisible incense offering which atones for speaking Lashon Harah travels vast distances, so too, the lofty, non-tangible and unseen exercise in self-control of refraining from saying negative words about another, spreads abounding spiritual energy and protection!