|Tractate Peah, Chapter 1
For these [evil] things they2 collect interest3 from the person in this world and the principal (i.e. main punishment) remains for the World to Come: for idol worship, for illicit sexual relations,4 and for murder. And for gossip [the damage and punishment are] equivalent to them all.5
|מסכת פאה פרק א
על אילו דברים נפרעין מן אדם בעולם הזה והקרן קיימת לעולם הבא: על עבודה זרה ועל גלוי עריות ועל שפיכות דמים ועל לשון הרע כנגד כולם.
- Mishna Peah 1:1 listed three good things that a person can do in this world for which he receives physical benefit during his lifetime and in addition great reward in the Afterlife. The Mishna added that the reward for learning Torah is equivalent to the other three good things combined. This Tosefta states a similar list, but of evil deeds that a person can do for which cause great damage to his life in this world and will ensure great punishment in the World to Come.
- “They” in this case does not refer to anyone in particular, not even to God. It is used as “the big they”.
- The Hebrew word פרע means to collect debts or interest. In this case it means that the person causes damage to his own life by performing these evil deeds and causes his own ruin.
- Illicit relations refer to any type of forbidden sexual relations, such as incest, bestiality and homosexual intercourse, but most commonly it refers to sleeping with another person’s spouse.
- Obviously the Tosefta uses the juxtaposition of gossip opposite the three most severe sins in Judaism, in the case of which a person if forced to do them by someone else must chose to be killed instead (see Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 74a), in order to emphasize the severity of gossip. It does not literally mean that gossip is so evil that a person must chose to be killed if he is forced by another person to speak gossip about someone.