(A re-post from last year - I couldn't resist it!)
This Shabbos, my adorable five-year-old son was telling me what he had learned about the parashah. He said, "If we say lashon hara, then we get bad things on our skin, and if we don't say lashon hara, we get long animals."
I had been slightly distracted by the antics of one of my other kids, but my attention snapped back at the last part of his sentence. "What did you say?" I asked, unsure if I had heard correctly.
"My moreh said that if we don't say lashon hara, we get long animals." He paused, and looked confused. "Aba, is that really true? Will we get long animals?"
My mind struggled to understand what was going on. I know that, with my son being in a Hebrew-speaking gan, sometimes the teacher's words get lost in translation. But what on earth had the teacher said?
Suddenly, I had a burst of inspiration.
"Oy vey!" I said. "Chayyim aruchim does not mean 'long animals,' it means 'long life'! It's chayyim aruchim, not chayyot aruchot!"