Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon ט"ז ניסן - Nissan 16 - One-Hundred-and-Ninety-Fourth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Similar [to the above incident involving Rabbi Zmira’ah, as recorded in the “Zohar”], is [an incident] that is also [taught] in “Tanna D’Vei Eliyahu” [in] chapter 17, [as follows]: “Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai said: ‘On one occasion I was walking on the road and encountered one person who was gathering wood, and I spoke with him, [though] he didn’t respond to me [at all]. Subsequent [to this encounter] he came to me and said to me: ‘Rabbi, I am dead and am not alive.’ I said to him, ‘If you are dead, what purpose do you have for all of these [pieces] of wood?’ He responded to me: ‘Rabbi, listen to me [concerning the] matter that I shall relate to you: When I was alive, I and my friend were involved in a sin in my residence, and when we arrived here [in gehinnom], they decreed a judgment of burning upon us. When I gather wood, they burn my friend, and when he gathers wood, they burn me.’ I said to him: ‘[For how long will] your judgment [continue]?’ He said to me: ‘When I arrived over here, I left my wife pregnant, and I know that she is pregnant with a [boy]. Therefore, I plead with you, be careful with [my son] from the time that he is born until he is five years old, take him to the Academy of his Rabbi [to learn] Scripture, for from the moment that he says, “We bless HaShem Who is The Source of Blessing” – “ברכו את ה' המברך”, they will raise me out of the judgment of gehinnom.’”

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon ט"ו ניסן - Nissan 15 - One-Hundred-and-Ninety-Third Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

At times, [due to the person’s having ensured that his son had a Torah education, in addition to being saved from judgement in gehinnom, the father], as a consequence of this [Torah study of his son], merits to be counted among the righteous. [The above follows that which is taught] in “Midrash HaNe’elam” (“Zohar Chadash” – “Midrash Ruth”, the teaching [beginning with the words] “מי שמת בלי בנים” – “One who dies without children”), in the second chapter, [as follows]: “Rabbi Zmira’ah went out to the field of Unoo [and] he saw flames rising in those fissures of the Mountains of Ararat. [Thereupon, Rabbi Zmira’ah] inclined his ear and he heard voices. That Arab [then] said to him: “Come with me and I shall show you wonders that are hidden from people.” [Rav Zmira’ah] went with him behind a boulder, and he saw other fissures and flames were ascending [from those fissures. Rabbi Zmira’ah and the Arab then] heard other voices. [The Arab then said]. ‘Incline your ear over here’. He inclined his ear and he heard voices that were saying, ‘Woe, woe’. [Thereupon, Rav Zmira’ah said], ‘Definitely this place over here is one of the places of gehinnom’. The Arab then went away and [Rav Zmira’ah] remained [over there]. After a while he bent [himself his body] in another place and saw a person who was raising his voice [and] they were taking him and were taking him to the depths of another compartment [of gehinnom], and he was covered over and not see again. [Rav Zmira’ah then] went to sleep and saw that man [who he had seen in gehinnom] in a dream. [Rav Zmira’ah] said to him: ‘Who are you?’ [The man] said to him: ‘I am a Jewish sinner, for I have not left [any evils and sins in the world that I did not perform: In the midst of the dream [Rav Zmira’ah] said to him, ‘What is your name?’ [The man responded] to him: ‘I don’t know, for the sinners of gehinnom do not remember their names.’ [Rav Zmira’ah] said to him: ‘What is the name of the place [where you had lived]?’ [The man] said to him: ‘I had been a butcher in the Upper-Galilee, and due to numerous sins that I had performed over there, the judgements of that person (i.e. referring to himself) are three times during the daytime and three times during the nighttime. [Thereupon, Rabbi Zmira’ah] arose (got up) from there and went to the Upper-Galil. [Once Rabbi Zmira’ah arrived in the Upper-Galil], he heard the voice of a child who was reciting [the following pasuk from “Mishlei”]: “If you seek it out like silver and search for it like hidden-treasures, then you shall understand the fear of HaShem…” (2; 4 – 5) [Rav Zmira’ah then] went to another Beis Midrash [and] heard the voice of another child who was saying: “Seek out righteousness, seek out humility, perhaps they had been hidden”. (Tzifaniah: 2; 3) [Thereupon, Rav Zmira’ah] went and searched out for the place [where] that evil man [had lived], and he asked one child [concerning where he had lived]. The child said to him: ‘Rabbi, such-and-such should happen to that person, for he didn’t leave over any evils and sins that he did not perform. Such-and-such should befall that evil man and the baby who nurses on account of him. [Rav Zmira’ah] said to [that child]: ‘Did [that man] leave a son in the world?’ [The child] said to him: ‘Yes. He left one son, and he is an evildoer like his father, and he is the child that goes to the slaughter-house. [Thereupon, Rabbi Zmira’ah] sought out [that man’s child] and he took him with him, and he wearied him in [the study of] The Torah until he taught him Scripture (Mikrah) and tefillah, and K’rias Sh’ma. Afterwards, [Rav Zmira’ah] taught him mishna and Talmud, and halachos, and aggados, until he became wiser. [That child] is Rabbi Nachum HaPakuli. Why did [the people] call him “HaPakuli”? [The people referred to him as “HaPakuli” – “הפקולי”, for] it says [in sefer “Yishayahu”], “…removed him from judgement” – “פקו פליליה” (28; 7), for he [caused] his father to be removed from the judgement of that world (i.e. gehinnom), and numerous scholars of [their] generation who descended from him and are called “Pakuli”. [Subsequent to Rabbi Zmira’ah having taught his son Torah], that man [who Rabbi Zmira’ah had seen in gehinnom], came to him in a dream, and said to him: ‘Rabbi, you have so greatly comforted me, [to] such [an extent] should The Hold One, Blessed is He, comfort you, for from the day that my son knew one pasuk, they removed me from one of my judgements during the day [and from one judgement] during the night. Once [my son] read [Torah] in the Academy of his Rabbi, they completely removed me from my judgements. On the day that [my son] became a scholar and they called him “Rabbi”, my chair was placed in the midst of the righteous in Gan Eiden, and on every day that Torah is renewd in his name, they crown me in a supreme crown with which the righteous are crowned. On account of you, [Rabbi Zmira’ah], I merited all of this [great] honor. Praiseworthy is the portion of [the person] who left a son in this world who wearies himself in Torah [study].”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon י"ד ניסן - Nissan 14 - One-Hundred-and-Ninety-Second Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

In reality, [the person’s] expenditures for his children’s Torah education, is not included in the [amount of money] that is designated for him [to earn] from [the judgement passed on] Rosh HaShanah, as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in masechesBeitzah” (16b), as follows]: “All of the sustenance of the person is designated for him from [between] Rosh HaShanah until Yom Kippur, aside for his expenditures for Shabbos…, and expenditures on behalf of his children for [their] Torah study, for if he diminishes [the amount of money that he spends for his Shabbos needs and for his children’s Torah education], they dimish [that equivalent amount of money] from him. If, [on the contrary, the person] increases [the amount of money that he spends on his children’s Torah education or for Shabbos needs], they add [that equivalent amount of money onto the amount of money that] he [was designated to earn that year]. Please go [take note of] that which our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in masechesKiddushin” (30a) concerning expenditures for the Torah education of one’s children]: “[Concerning] all of those who teach their grandson Torah, the pasuk considers it as if he [had] received [that Torah] at Har Sinai, as it says [in parshasVa’Eschanan”], “And you shall inform [concerning] them to your children and your grandchildren” (Divarim: 4; 9), [which is] juxtaposed with: “The day that you stood before HaShem your G-d, at Choreiv (4; 10).

In addition, [as a result of paying for one’s children’s Torah education, that person] merits a long life, [for both] him and [for] his children (see “Sifrei” [on] parshasEikev”, piskah 46), as it is written, “and you shall teach them to your children…” (Divarim: 11; 19), [this being] juxtaposed with, “in order that your days and the days of your children shall be lengthened…” (21)

Moreover, as a result of the Torah study of the son, [the father] merits to be rescued from gehinnom, as is [taught] in “Tanna D’vei Eliyahu Zuta” [in] chapter 12, [as follows]: “[Concerning] the ignorant (ammei HaAretz) who treated [The Torah] with respect and taught their children Torah, [as a consequence, these] children rescue their fathers from that embarrassment and shame, and from that disgrace, as well as from the judgement of gehinnom.”

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon י"ג ניסן - Nissan 13 - One-Hundred-and-Ninety-First Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

In addition [to the fact that many people have become lax from their involvement in Torah study], they also do not encourage their children [to involve themselves in] Torah [study] and do not send them to [a Torah] school, except to the point that they know a little bit of Chumash. Woe and alas that such has occurred in our days! [The above is especially problematic and tragic, for] isn’t the halacha thath was determined, [as brought in] “Yoreh Deah”, in siman 245, sif 6, known, [that being] that wherever it is possible for the father, it is incumbent (a mitzvah) upon him to hire [someone] to teach [his son] until he will know mishna and gemara, halachos and aggados.

I know the justification [of these fathers], for they will say that [their sons] are pressed for time. However, in reality, when they will contemplate [this matter] thoroughly to themselves, they will know that it is only the Yetzer [HaRa who] is misleading them. [The father would arrive at the above realization], for isn’t [it true] with respect to other matters which are only of physical benefit to the son, every person helps his son with all of his ability, [even] more than his ability, and [even] there are many instances that he will put his own life in danger of destruction on [his son’s] behalf, that being that he will do things that are not in line with halacha [with respect to mitzvos that are] between one person and his fellow and [mitzvos that are] between the person and HaShem, and he [nevertheless] blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘There shall be [peace for me, for [by acting in such a manner], I am thereby performing [acts of] righteousness at every moment [in order] to sustain the members of my household. [However], at the time that he is required to encourage his son to [involve himself in] Torah [study, so] that he will know how to serve HaShem, and he thereby brings life of The World to Come to his son and himself, as we shall copy later on from the midrashim of our Sages of Blessed Memory, he says that [his son] is pressed for time. Behold, [the above behavior of the father] resembles that which the pasuk [in seferYishayahu” says, as follows]: “And you have not called Me, Ya’akov, for you have wearied Me, Israel” (43; 22), precisely within Me. [The following is taught] in [the] Midrash on the [aforementioned] pasuk: “[The person] performs business dealings every day – and he is not wearied, [when he] prays – he becomes wearied”. (Yalkut Shimoni on [sefer] “Yishayahu”, remez 457)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon י"בּ ניסן - Nissan 12 - One-Hundred-and-Ninetieth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Chapter 7

In [this chapter] the reward of one who supports his children’s involvement [in] Torah study, shall be explained, and, in contrast, [this chapter shall also discuss] the magnitude of [the] punishment [awaiting the person] who, Heaven Forbid, does not support his children to [enable them to] be involved in Torah [study]

In our numerous sins, a very great [number of] people grow lax from involvement in Torah [study] and don’t [even] consider the great punishment that is [awaiting them] as a consequence of [their] bittul Torah[1]. [The aforementioned teaching relates to that] which is written in “Midrash Mishlei[2] [in] chapter ten, [as follows]: “Rabbi Yehuda said, ‘Come and take note of the harshness of The Day of Judgement, for in the future, The Holy One, Blessed is He, Will Judge the entire world… [The person] who possesses [knowledge] of Scripture [that he had learned in this world], but does not possess [knowledge of] Mishna, arrives [on The Day of Judgement], The Holy One, Blessed is He, turns His Countenance from him, and the hinges of gehinnom are strengthened with respect to him… and they take him and send him to gehinnom. [Concerning] the person who possesses [knowledge of] two or three orders [of mishna], The Holy One, Blessed is He, says to him: ‘My son, why didn’t you learn all of the halachos?’… [The person] who possesses [knowledge of all of the] halachos, arrives [before HaShem on The Day of Judgement. Thereupon, HaShem] says to him: ‘My son, why didn’t you learn Toras Kohanim[3]? There is [found] within [Toras Kohanim]…’ One who possesses [knowledge of] Toras Kohanim, arrives [for judgement]. The Holy One, Blessed is He, says to him, ‘My son, why didn’t you learn The Five Books of The Torah? For within [The Five Books of The Torah there exist the mitzvos of] k’rias sh’ma, tefillin, and mezuzah.’ One who possesses [knowledge of] The Five Books of The Torah, arrives [for judgement. Thereupon], The Holy One, Blessed is He, says to him: ‘My son, why didn’t you learn Talmud?’… The person who possesses [knowledge of] Talmud comes [to judgement. Thereupon], The Holy One, Blessed is He, says to him, ‘My son, since you involved yourself in [the study of] Talmud – you have glanced at The Merkavah… how The Throne of Glory stands… how the Chashmal stands… and with how many faces it turns… see [this teaching] over there [in “Shocher Tov”], at length.

[1] “Bittul Torah” is idleness from involvement in Torah study.

[2] This teaching is found “Shocher Tov”.

[3] “Toras Kohanim” refers to The Book of “Vayikra” (Leviticus).

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon י"א ניסן - Nissan 11 - One-Hundred-and-Eighty-Nineth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[You] should also be aware of that [which] is found in the holy sifrarim[1], that [being that] the person who [financially] supports those who study Torah, even though he was an am HaAretz[2] in this world, he merits [through his support of Torah study, to] also be familiar with that knowledge of The Torah [study that he had supported] in the future, [when he enters Heaven]. [3] In reality it is obvious [that the person who supports Torah study will be familiar with the Torah knowledge that he had supported, as he] possesses a portion in the actual reward of his Torah [that he had supported], it being known that the great pleasures that [exist] in Gan Eiden, exist due to the spirituality of the Torah. [Therefore, as some of the delights present in Gan Eiden, came into existence due to The Torah that was studied based on his financial support, for which support he is rewarded, he] must consequently [be familiar with that] Torah [study that he had supported].

As [the above] is the case, each person should consider to himself, how it is essential for him to support those who study The Torah, for [even] if, in this world, [someone] would say to a person who is not [regularly involved in Torah study], (or even if he is a Torah scholar, however the masechta[4] that his fellow, the impoverished Torah scholar is now studying, he has not studied as of yet), [as follows]: “How much would you want to give in order to be orally proficient in such-and-such masechta, or in “Yoreh Deah[5], or in “Choshen Mishpat[6]?” [In response to the above question, the person] would definitely respond, [as follows]: ‘I will give all that which is within my ability [to be orally proficient in] even one chapter [of gemara], and how much more so [would I give all that I can, to be similarly proficient in] an entire masechta!” [The above response of the person would occur] even in this world, [in which] we do not recognize the greatness of the holiness of The Torah and the extent of its value. [As the above is the case, it is] all the more so [true that the person would desire to give all that which is within his ability, once he enters] The World to Come, for the greatness of the holiness of The Torah will be evident to everyone, and [it is in The World to Come that the person] will contemplate its profound value. [The above follows that which] is known from [the teaching] in The Holy “Zohar[7], “that [the person] who inherits one masechta, inherits one world”[8]. [The person who supports Torah study] will subsequently be so happy with [respect to] the portion of Torah that he will find awaiting him [in The World to Come], for which he didn’t toil in this world [to attain], and [it] was only on account of the small amount [of money] that he set aside from his toil [in his profession] while he is still alive [that gained him this great reward]. While [the person] is still alive, once he will constantly contemplate [the great reward awaiting those who support Torah study], he will run after those who are proficient in Torah [in his] desire to cling to them and [financially] support them. [Once the person recognizes the greatness of the reward that can be received due to supporting those involved in Torah study, he will pursue Torah scholars in order to support their Torah study to a] much greater extent than he would pursue a [potential business] partner for the purposes of associating with him in material matters.

[1] Note from the “Kol HaLashon” printing of seferShmiras HaLashon”: [This teaching can be found in maseches] “Pisachim” (53b) [beginning with the words] “In the shadow of wisdom, in the shadow of money” (Koheles: 7; 12). See RaSh”I’s comments [on that section of the gemara].

[2] An “Am HaAretz” is a person who is ignorant in Torah matters.

[3] This teaching is based on Rabbi Yochanan’s teaching in the gemara, as follows:

“All of those who give merchandise into the wallet of Torah scholars, merits to sit in The Heavenly Yeshiva, as it says [in “Koheles”], “For in the shadow of wisdom, in the shadow of money…” (7; 12)”

RaSh”I, on this passage in the gemara, explains that this gemara, quoting Rabbi Yochanan, refers to the person who gives merchandise to Torah scholars, which they can use to earn a profit. RaSh”I, based on this pasuk from “Koheles”, explains that the person who financially supports Torah scholars merit to enter the section of wisdom in Heaven – i.e. the Heavenly Yeshiva (Yeshiva Shel Ma’alah).

[4] “Masechta” is a “tractate” of either the Talmud or Mishna. In this context, it appears that the Chofetz Chaim is referring to a tractate of the Talmud.

[5] One of the four sections of Jewish law, known as the “Arba’ah Turim” – “Four Pillars” – compiled by Rav Ya’akov ben Asher (also known as the
Ba’al HaTurim), and “Yoreh Deah” can refer more generally to the areas of Jewish law in this section. Much of “Yoreh Deah” discusses the laws of kashrus.

[6] “Choshen Mishpat” is another of the four sections of the “Arba’ah Turim” of Jewish law, and more generally can refer to the areas of Jewish law referred to in this section. “Choshen Mishpat” deals with monetary laws.

[7] Note from the “Kol HaLashon” Hebrew printing of seferShmiras HaLashon”: [This teaching is found in the] Introduction to “Tikkunei Zohar”, erev Rosh Chodesh Elul.

[8] This teaching is stated in the name of Rabbi Shimon, and states as follows:

“Every single righteous individual has his own world [in Heaven] and every person who merits [to study] one halacha inherits one world. How much more is this the case of [the person] who merits [to learn] one masechta, or two [masechtos], or sixty [masechtos], concerning the [masechtos], it is [written in “Shir HaShirim”], “There are sixty queens…” (6; 8), for each masechta is a noblewoman in and of itself. Meritorious is the person who inherits her (i.e. the masechta) in this world, for a halacha is the world of the noblewoman…”

Monday, June 02, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon י ניסן - Nissan 10 - One-Hundred-and-Eighty-Eighth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

In contrast [to the reward that the person receives for strengthening The Torah], the magnitude of the punishment for one who does not strengthen The Torah, is explained in The Holy “Zohar” [on] parshasVayishlach” (volume 1; 171a), [as follows][1]: “[Concerning] one who toils in Torah [study, for whom] there is no one to support him, and he does not find anyone to take [of their] profits to put into his wallet [in order] to strengthen him [and support his study of The Torah], as a consequence of this, The Torah is forgotten in every single generation, and the power of The Torah weakens every single day, for there is nothing upon which those [people] who toil in Torah [study] rely [on for support]. [As a consequence of the lack of support of those who study Torah], the governments of the idolaters[2] becomes stronger every single day. Come and take note of the extent [of damage that] is caused by this sin [of not supporting Torah study], for since there is no one who supports Torah [study] as is fitting, these supports are weakened (explanation: In the supernal holy worlds, there are worlds that are referred to as “supports of Torah”, and this is [what The “Zohar” means] when it says, “these supports”, in other words, these worlds weaken, [that being that] their power weakens, so to speak), and they cause (meaning: those who do not strengthen the hands of those who study The Torah, cause) the one who does not have legs and thighs to be strengthened to stand up. (Meaning: For Sama’el (i.e. the Satan) and the original snake, they being the worlds of the k’lipos (i.e. spiritual “husks” or barriers)). [Rabbi Shimon] began [his teaching] and said [as follows]: ““And HaShem G-d, said to the snake, ‘Because you have done this [sin], you are more cursed than all of the domesticated animals… you shall walk on your belly…’”[3] (B’reishis: 3; 14) What is the meaning of “You shall walk on your belly”? [“You shall walk on your belly” means that the Satan’s] supports have been broken and his legs have been cut, and he [consequently] has nothing upon which to stand, [this being as a consequence of the support that The B’nei Yisrael offers for Torah study. However], when [The B’nei] Yisrael do not wish to support [the study of] The Torah, they provide [the snake] supports and thighs to stand up [upon] and to [use] to impede [others][4].”

[1] This teaching from Rabbi Shimon, discusses how supporting Torah study, to ensure that it doesn’t diminish, allows The B’nei Yisrael to thereby ensure that the power of the Satan remains significantly diminished. However, when Torah is not supported sufficiently, and all the more-so if not supported at all, the power of the may increase, chas v’shalom.

[2] In the Romm Vilna printing (printed in the Jewish year 5,684 or approx. 1925) of the “Zohar”, instead of “ומלכות עובדי כוכבים ומזלות” “governments of idolaters”, the text “ומלכו חייבא” – “the wicked governments”, is written.

[3] The pasuk from parshasB’reishis”, states as follows:

“And HaShem G-d said to the snake, ‘Since you have done this, you are more cursed than all of the domesticated animals, and than all of the animals of the field, you shall walk on your belly, and you shall eat dust all of the days of your life’.” (B’reishis: 3; 14)

The “Or HaChaim” explains that the snake caused three negative things to occur as a consequence of his having spoken to Chavah to entice her to eat from the fruit of the Eitz HaDa’as (Tree of Knowledge of good and evil), they being that: 1) The light of HaShem had been removed from Adam and Chavah, they having had originally been created by HaShem to be of light – “אור”, and now, as a result of their sin, became flesh “עור”. 2) Adam and Chavah were no longer able to live forever. 3) Adam and Chavah were expelled from Gan Eiden, no longer taking pleasure in the joys of Gan Eiden.

The snake will not be healed, for it related Lashon HaRa directed against HaShem, to Chavah, thus leading to the mortality of man and Adam and Chavah’s banishment from Gan Eiden, among other things. The snake told Chavah that HaShem did not want people eating from the eitz ha’da’as (tree of knowledge of good and evil), “For G-d knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you shall be like G-d, knowing good and evil.” (B
reishis: 3; 5) According to Breishis Rabbah (19; 4), Rabbi Yehoshua of Sichnin quoted Rabbi Levi as teaching that the snake spoke slander against HaShem, by claiming that HaShem does not want people eating from the eitz ha’da’as, as they will be able to create worlds, as can G-d.

[4] The Hebrew translation to The “Zohar”, provided in seferShmiras HaLashon”, translates the Aramaic word “ולאתעכבא” – “and to impede”, as “ולהתקים בהם” – “and to live with them”.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon ט ניסן - Nissan 9 - One-Hundred-and-Eighty-Seventh Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

(During a Jewish leap-year: 23 Adar II - בִּשְׁנַת הָעִיבּוּר - כ"ג אדר בּ)

Therefore, [once the] person [with] fear of HaShem [in] his heart, [will come to recognize that it is merely the Yetzer HaRa who is enticing him to refrain from supporting Torah institutions, he should] strive to [involve himself] in this matter of strengthening The Torah. [Such a person should make sure to support Torah institutions] in order so that in the future, [when he will be judged in the Heavenly Tribunal], the blood of [The B’nei] Yisrael, will not be sought from him, it being known that due to the sin of bittul Torah[1], [one’s] children [may] die [when they are young][2]. Similarly, [the above teaching follows that which was taught in “Tanna D’vei Eliyahu” (Eliyahu Rabbah, parsha 12), as follows]: “Concerning anyone who possesses the ability to protest [a wrongdoing] and nevertheless doesn’t protest [it], and has the ability to bring [The B’nei] Yisrael back to [perform that which is] good, and he doesn’t return them [to proper observance of The Torah, then] all of the blood that was spilled among [The B’nei] Yisrael, only comes about through him, as it says in seferYechezkel”, “And you, son of man, I have placed you as a watchman for The House of Israel, and you shall hear a matter from My Mouth, and you shall warn them… He is an evildoer, he shall die due to his sin, and I shall seek his blood from your hand”[3]. (33; 7 – 8)”[4] In addition, [it is fitting for the person to strengthen The Torah] for the sake of The Honor of HaShem and [for the sake of] His Holy Torah which is currently profaned, due to our sins. [Once the person will support and strengthen Torah institutions and those involved in Torah study], then there will be no end to his reward, as is taught in the [Talmud] Yirushalmi [in] the last chapter of [maseches] “Birachos” (halacha 5), [as follows]: “If you have seen a generation that weakens themselves from [supporting the study of] The Torah, [then] stand up and strengthen [Torah study], and you will receive the reward of the entire [generation].[5]

Even though it is known to everyone, that at the present time, in accordance with the lack of influence that exists, due to our numerous sins, and [due to] other reasons, it is not easy for one who strives to [strengthen Torah study], to bring this matter from the potential into the reality. Nevertheless, [one who wishes to strengthen Torah study], should not become lax in this [matter], for “in proportion to the difficulty is the reward”[6]. Even if, [as a result of his increased involvement in Torah study, the person] will find certain people who will deride him as a result of this [support of Torah study], he shouldn’t pay attention to [their behavior] at all. [The person who has been derided for his support of Torah study], should know that as a consequence of this [derision that he has suffered], his reward is all the greater, for he has borne insults for the sake of The Holy One, Blessed is He. In this vien, [we are taught] in the [Talmud] Yirushalmi, in the last chapter of [maseches] “Peah” (Chapter 8, halacha 6), [that the person receives a greater reward for performance of a mitzvah when he is the subject of derision for having performed that mitzvah in an acceptable manner. The teaching from the Yirushalmi] is in reference to those who are in charge of collecting charity, [and states as follows]: “Rabbi Elazar was an administrator of charity. [On] one occasion he went down to his house [and] said [to the people of his household], ‘What have you done [while I was gone]?’ They said to him: ‘One group [of people came] and they ate and they drank and prayed for you’. [Rabbi Elazar] said to them, ‘This is not a good reward’. [Rabbi Elazar then] went down [to his house] a second time [and] said to [the people of his household]: ‘What have you done [in my absence]?’ They said to him: ‘A second group came, and they ate and drank and derided you’. He said to them, ‘Over here, [in this instance], there is a good reward’.” [We are similarly taught in] “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson” (chapter 3, halacha 6), [as follows]: “One hundred times with distress [is preferable to] one time without distress.”[7]

[1] “Bittul Torah” refers to being idle from involvement in Torah study.

[2] This teaching that one’s children may die when they are young, due to the father’s sin of bittul Torah (idleness from involvement in Torah study), is taught by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, quoted in masechesShabbos” (32b). The source for this teaching “is written [in seferYirmiyahu”, as follows]: “I have struck your children for no purpose, [for] they have not accepted musar (moral rebuke)…””

[3] This chapter from seferYechezkel”, among other things, discusses the person’s obligation to warn another person, including an evildoer, to cease their involvement in sin, in order to spare their lives from death. This obligation, noted in this chapter, is stated in reference to the prophet who is aware of the punishment that is set to befall the people, but nevertheless refrains from warning the person. This prophet who is aware of the punishment that may befall the evildoer, and nevertheless refrains from warning him to repent from his evil actions, is held accountable, even in a situation where, if warned, the evildoer would subsequently decide to ignore the prophet’s warning and continue in his evil behavior.

The relevant p’sukim states as follows:

“And you son of man, I have placed you as a watchman for The Household of Israel, and you shall hear a matter from My Mouth, and you shall warn them from sinning before Me. When I have said to the evildoer, ‘Evildoer, you shall surely die’, and you have not spoken to warn the evildoer from [continuing in] his path [of evil], he is an evildoer, he shall die due to his sin, and I shall seek his blood from your hand. And you, when you shall warn the evildoer from his path [of evil], to return from [continued involvement in] it, and he [nevertheless] did not return from his path, he shall die due to his sin, and you have rescued your soul.” (Yechezkel: 33; 7 – 9, based on the commentary of Targum Yonasan ben Uziel)

[4] The relevant text from “Eliyahu Rabbah”, states as follows:

“Perhaps you will say that those 42,000 [people] who were killed during the time of Yiftach the Giladite, for what reason were they killed? [They were killed because] Yiftach the Giladite made a vow that was improper, and Pinchas, the son of Elazar, stood [in his place]. Pinchas should have gone to Yiftach to annul his vow [and] Yiftach should have gone [over] to Pinchas and have his vow annulled, and he [nevertheless] did not go. [Pinchas did not go over to Yiftach, for he said], ‘I am a Kohein Gadol, the son of a Kohein Gadol, the grandson of Aharon the Kohein [and] I should go over to an Am HaAretz?!?’ [Yiftach decided not to go over to Pinchas, for he said], ‘I am the leader of all of [The People of] Israel, [and] I should go over to this one?!?’ This one (i.e. Pinchas) treated himself with distinction [befitting a great person] and this one (i.e. Yiftach) treated himself with distinction [befitting a great person]. Woe to greatness for it buries those who possess it, woe to greatness, for it doesn’t cause good [to come about] in the world. Yiftach the Giladite made a vow, it being an improper matter to offer his daughter on top of the altar. [Subsequently], the men of Ephraim gathered against [Yiftach in order] to instigate a great quarrel with him. Pinchas should have said to them, ‘You have not come to annul [Yiftach’s] vow for him, [but] to you have come to him to instigate quarrel?!?’ [Instead, Pinchas] did not protest the people of Ephraim [in their quarrel against Yiftach], and he didn’t annul Yiftach’s vow for him. The One Who sits on The Throne, The Righteous Judge, May His Great Name be Blessed for all time, [then] said, ‘Since this one (i.e. Yiftach) put his life in his hand and came and rescued [The B’nei] Yisrael from the hand of Moav and from the hand of Amon [and these people of Ephraim] have [nevertheless] come to instigate a great quarrel with him, therefore, [Yiftach] gathered [his people] to war, and he went out and killed 42,000 of them, as it says, “And he said to them, ‘Please say “Shiboles”, and he would say “Siboles” (Shoftim: 12; 6), this being an idolatrous manner of speaking, like a person who says to his fellow “Shebol” and he is incapable of speaking like this, “…and they grabbed him and they slaughtered him by the crossings of the Jordan [River]…” (12; 6)

Who killed all of these [42,000] people? You would say that it was only Pinchas, the son of Elazar, who killed all of these [people], for he had the ability to protest [the actions of Ephraim] and he [nevertheless] did not protest. [Pinchas] could have annulled Yiftach’s vow for him, and he didn’t annul it for him. [The above] does not only apply to Pinchas, rather anyone who possesses the ability to protest and he [nevertheless] does not protest, to return [The B’nei] Yisrael to [performing that which is] good, and he doesn’t cause them to return [to performing that which is good, then, consequently], the blood that is spilled for [The B’nei] Yisrael, are only spilled on account of him, as it says [in seferYechezkel”], “And you, son of man, [I have placed you as a] watchman… When I have said to the evildoer, ‘Evildoer, you shall surely die’, and you have [nevertheless] not warned him… And you, when you have warned the evildoer [to refrain from [continuing in] his path [of evil]]…” (33; 7 – 9), [this being the case] for all of [The People of] Israel are guarantors [who are responsible] for one another. [To what are The B’nei Yisrael] comparable to? To a ship, on which one cabin in it had been ripped apart, [in such an instance], we do not say, ‘One cabin has been ripped apart on the ship’, rather [we say], ‘The entire ship has been torn apart’, as it says [in seferYihoshua”], “Did not Achan, the son of Zerach misappropriate consecrated property [and there was anger upon all of the congregation of Israel…]” (22; 20)

[5] This section from the Talmud Yirushalmi in masechesBirachos” (Chapter 9; 14, fourth column), states as follows:

“It was taught in a Baraisa: “Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai says, ‘If you have seen that the people have greatly despaired from involving [themselves] in Torah [study, then] stand up and strengthen [The Torah], and you shall receive the reward of all of [those people]. What is the reason for this? “They have treated Your Torah as ownerless, it is a time to act for HaShem”.’ (Based on “Tehillim” (119; 126)) Hillel the Elder used to say, ‘At the time that [the people] gather [in Torah, then] scatter [your Torah teachings], and at the time when they scatter [their Torah teachings], gather [in their teachings]’. Similarly, Hillel used to say, ‘If you see that The Torah is beloved by [The People of] Israel, and everyone is happy with it, scatter [your Torah teachings], and if not, gather [in The Torah that you study]’. Rabbi Elazar said, ‘Just as this baby needs to nurse (breast-feed) every hour of the day, so too, every person among [The People of] Israel need to weary themselves in Torah [study] every hour of the day’.

Chareidim explains that at the time that people do not express desire to study Torah, then learn Torah yourself, and you will be greatly rewarded, as it says “They have treated Your Torah as ownerless”, “it is a time to act for HaShem” (Koheles: 11; 6). If one were to teach Torah to people who do not want to hear it, it would be a disgrace for The Torah, therefore, by avoiding teaching Torah in such a situation, the person is rewarded for avoiding causing The Torah to be disgraced, in addition to continuing his involvement in Torah study, in the face of public laxity, and perhaps even disapproval, of Torah study.

[6] This teaching in “Pirkei Avos” (5; 23), is brought in the name of Ben Hei Hei. Bartenura explains that the more suffering that one has in Torah study and performance of the mitzvos, the greater is their reward. “Midrash Shmuel” explains that since the reward for Torah study is due to the degree that the person troubles himself and the energy that he expends to understand The Torah that he is learning. Therefore, it could be that the reward of the person who doesn’t understand much of The Torah that he has learned, though has expended a great deal of energy while attempting to understand The Torah, may have a reward comparable to The Torah leader of the generation, due to the effort that he expended in his Torah study.

[7] In the text of seferShmiras HaLashon”, the Chofetz Chaim quotes the teaching from “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson” as stating “One hundred times with distress [is preferable to] one time without distress”. However, the text from “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson” states, “for one matter in distress is better for the person than one-hundred times in [a state of] comfort”. The text of “Shmiras HaLashon” is “מאה פעמים בצער מפעם אחת שלא בצער”, while in “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson”, it states, “דבר אחד בצער ממאה בריוח”.

The passage from “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson”, states as follows:

“Rabbi Yishmael says, ‘If you have learned Torah in your youth, do not say, ‘I shall not learn in my old-age’. Rather, learn Torah, “for you do not know which [Torah study] will be fitting”. (based on Koheles: 11; 6) If you have learned Torah at a time of wealth, don’t sit back [to refrain from Torah study] at a time of poverty. If you have learned Torah during a time of satiety, don’t sit back [to refrain from Torah study] during a time of famine. If you have learned Torah at a time of comfort, do not sit back [to refrain from Torah study] at a time of distress, for one matter in distress is better for the person than one-hundred times in [a state of] comfort, as it says [in “Koheles”], “In the morning plant your seeds, and in the evening do not allow your hand to rest…” (11; 6)”

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon ח ניסן - Nissan 8 - One-Hundred-and-Eighty-Sixth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

(During a Jewish leap-year: 22 Adar II - בִּשְׁנַת הָעִיבּוּר - כ"בּ אדר בּ)

The essence [of the matter concerning the need to establish and maintain local yeshivos for the youth], is dependent on the distinguished people in the city, who possess the ability to protest and to rectify [problems], as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said on [the following] pasuk [from ParshasVayikra”]: “It is the sin of the congregation…”[1] (Vayikra: 4; 21), [that it is] juxtaposed [with the following phrase]: “That a prince will sin…”[2]. [This comes] to teach us, [that concerning] that which the congregation sins, it is [considered as if, in reality, it is] the distinguished person who sins, for he is held accountable for their sins in that he didn’t see to it to rectify the [sinful] matter [that was committed].

However, the council of the [evil] inclination [concerning] this [matter] is known, that being that once [the opportunity for such a] mitzvah as [rectifying the sins of the masses], presents itself to him, [the evil inclination] makes him into [a] humble [person, by] saying [as follows]: ‘I am the lowliest [person] in the city, and my words [in opposition to the given wrong], will definitely not be accepted at all, [so therefore], why should I destroy [the power of] my words for no [benefit]?’ However, once the person will contemplate to himself, he will see [and realize] that [the above] is only the council of the [evil] inclination, for if one were to [even] touch his honor at all, within [seconds], torches would be sent from his mouth against [the person who besmirched his honor], and he will [take the initiative to] arouse a number of people to be at his assistance against his fellow [who wronged him, with respect to] this [incident]. [However], once the [opportunity to take an action involving a] matter [concerning] The Honor of HaShem, presents itself [to him, the evil inclination] will [encourage] him [to act as one who is] humble and lowly of spirit [in order to try to avoid taking action for the sake of The Honor of HaShem]. [The above] can only be [the case due to the fact] that the evil inclination turns the person inside out like a leopard in its spots[3]. [[The above follows] that which our Sages of Blessed Memory have hinted to us [in maseches] “Birachos” (61a), that the evil inclination sits between two openings of the heart[4], for he doesn’t have a set place, as does the good inclination [which resides on] the right [side], rather, he adjusts [his place] based on [the type of] enticement [which he wishes to give to the person], every [matter], according to the [given] situation.]

[1] This pasuk states, “And he shall take the cow outside of the camp, and he shall burn it as he had burnt the first cow, it is a Chattas offering of the congregation”. (Vayikra: 4; 21)

[2] This phrase is taken from the next pasuk, which states, “That the prince shall sin, and out of negligence he shall perform one of the mitzvos of HaShem his G-d, which shall not be performed, and he shall be guilty”. (Vayikra: 4; 22)

[3] This phrase concerning the leopard, is based on the pasuk from seferYirmiyahu”, which states, “Can a Cushite change [the complexion of] his skin, and a leopard [change from having] his spots, also are you capable of changing, those [of you] who are accustomed to commit evil?!?” (Yirmiyahu: 13; 23)

Metzudas David explains that just as it is impossible for a person with black skin to change it to white and for the leopard to remove his spots, they being a natural part of them, so too, HaShem is telling the people through Yirmiyahu, that since they had become so accustomed to performing evil, it had become such a central part of their nature that it would similarly be impossible for them to change their nature to become good. Metzudas David explains that this pasuk is exaggerating the extent to which these people wouldn’t be able to perform tishuvah, and really means that for these people to change their ways to be good, it would be very difficult.

[4] The text of the gemara states as follows:

“Rav said, ‘The Yetzer HaRa is comparable to a fly, and it resides between the two openings of the heart, as it says [in “Koheles”], “Dead flies spoil the perfumer’s oil…” (Koheles: 10; 1) And Shmuel said, ‘[The Yetzer HaRa] is similar to a type of wheat, as it says [in parshasBireishis”], “‘…sin crouches at the opening…’” (Bireishis: 4; 7)’ Our Rabbis taught [in a Baraisa]: A person possesses two kidneys, one advises him to [perform] good, and one advises him to [perform] evil. It makes sense that [the kidney which advises the person to perform] good, is on his right [side], and [the one that advises the person to perform] evil, is on his left [side], as it is written [in “Koheles”], “The heart of the wise person is to his right [side], and the heart of the fool is to his left [side]” (Koheles: 10; 2).”

Shmiras HaLashon ז ניסן - Nissan 7 - One-Hundred-and-Eighty-Fifth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

(During a Jewish leap-year: 21 Adar II - בִּשְׁנַת הָעִיבּוּר - כ"א אדר בּ)

Chapter 6

[In this Chapter we shall Continue to Discuss Concerning] the Matter of the Greatness of The Obligation to Strengthen The [Study of The] Torah

All of this [which] we have spoken [about] concerning the matter of providing for the needs of the people involved in the study of The Torah, is in order that [the people who wish to involve themselves in Torah study], will possess the ability to involve themselves in [the study of] The Torah of HaShem. How much more so is it a great mitzvah in every single city, for [those] who possess the ability, [to ensure] that an effort [is made] to establish yeshivos of Torah for the youth who have not as of yet reached the [distinction] of [accomplished] learners [of Torah], so that The Torah will not decline, Heaven Forbid, for if there are not kid-goats, there will not be he-goats[1]. In our times it is all the more-so necessary to strengthen [the study of The Torah], so that it does not decline completely, Heaven Forbid, for the ray of The Torah has practically declined to the dirt, due to our numerous sins.

[Moreover], due to our numerous sins, [we have arrived at a situation in which] we observe with our eyes, that many youth who possessed the capability to become decisors of Jewish law in [the midst of The B’nei] Yisrael [have missed out on such an opportunity] since practically no teacher [of Torah] exists. [Therefore, these youth who possess great potential], remain completely ignorant, and some of these youth [consequently] also [even] go out to [live] an evil lifestyle. Even [in] those towns which do have yeshivos, [the Torah students] continuously become increasingly impoverished, for no one is found to sufficiently strengthen them by providing for their needs. Woe to our eyes, for such do they see, and no one pays attention [in order] to find a remedy or a cure for this [problem, so] that The Torah will not dissipate, Heaven Forbid. What will we say and [through] what will we made righteous before The Throne of [The] Glory [of HaShem], Yisbarach, when He will demand [concerning] the insult of The Torah[2] from [these people who could have strengthened Torah study but neglected to do so]?

[1] “Kid-goats” refer to the students of Torah and “he-goats” refers to the people who become accomplished in Torah study. (B’rachos, 63a)

[2] This teaching concerning “the insult of The Torah”, is based on a mishna in “Pirkei Avos”, quoting Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi (6; 2).