Please Learn in the Merit of:

Please learn for the merit of a complete recovery for the following individuals:

Ya'akov Don ben Esther Ahuvah Sharona
Avraham Yishayahu ben Aviva
Perel Leah bas Sima

Please learn in the merit/memory of Eyal ben Uriel, Gil-Ad Michael ben Ophir, Ya'akov Naftali ben Avraham, and Alter Aryeh Leib Reuven ben Sima

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon י טבת - Teves 10 - One-Hundreth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[The following teaching is] brought in Tanchuma (Parshas Shoftim, 4), on the pasuk, “…and you shall judge the nation a judgment of righteousness.” (Divarim: 16; 18): “Rabbi Yihudah the son of Rabbi Shalom said: “[This pasuk comes to teach us] that we should reach out and argue merit upon [the Jewish People] before The Holy One, Blessed is He. From whom do you learn [that one should come to the defense of the Jewish People by arguing for their merits]? From Gidon the son of Yoash, [for] during his days, [the Nation of] Israel was in [a state of] trouble, and The Holy One, Blessed is He, sought a person who be an advocate on their behalf, and He did not find [such a person], for the generation was poor in [performance of] mitzvos and good [deeds]. Once merit was found in Gidon, for he advocated for the [Jewish People], immediately the angel was revealed to him, as it says [in sefer Shoftim]: “And the angel of HaShem came to him and said, ‘Go with this strength’.”[1] (Shoftim: 6; 14) ‘With this strength of the merit that you have argued for My children.’ That is [the meaning of the phrase], “…and you shall judge the nation with a judgment of righteousness”, that you shall argue for the merit of the generation. From all of [the above], we are able to understand [of] the elevated level of one who argues for the merit [of the Jewish People] before The Holy One, Blessed is He. [Such a person] is subsequently made into a chariot for the light of The Holy Sanctuary, which is called “The Sanctuary of Merit”, for over there, the merits of [the Nation of] Israel are mentioned, as is [taught] in Sefer Chareidim.[2]

[1] The actual pasuk from sefer Shoftim is worded differently than it is quoted here. The actual pasuk reads as follows:

“And HaShem turned to him and He said, ‘Go with this strength and you shall save [the People of] Israel from the palm of Midian. Behold I have sent you.” (Shoftim: 6; 14)

The defense that Gidon presented to the angel, which led to him being blessed with the strength to save the People of Israel, is stated in the previous pasuk, as follows:

“And Gidon said to him, I beseech you my master, if HaShem is with us, [then] why has all of this occurred to us, and where are all of His wonders, of which our fathers related to us, saying, ‘Did HaShem not bring us up from Egypt, and now HaShem has deserted us and has given us into the palm of Midian?” (Shoftim: 6; 13)

[2] This teaching is found in Sefer Chareidim, in chapter 66, sif 38, in the new printing.

Shmiras HaLashon ט טבת - Teves 9 - Ninety-Ninth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Similar [to the above teaching of the importance of stating the merits of the Jewish People], we have found in a number of places in Tanna D’vei Eliyahu, including in chapter nineteen in the first volume (Eliyahu Rabba), where he very greatly arouses merit upon [the People of] Israel. The text [from Eliyahu Rabba, is as follows][1]: “Master of the Universe, please see our suffering, and fight our arguments, and allow our insults to rise before You, that which is done to us at each and every moment. Remember how many heads of households there are in the midst of Israel who do not have a livelihood, and are involved in Torah every day constantly. Remember how many poor people there are in the midst of [the People of] Israel, [regarding whom] the non-Jews are pulling [off] their skin from upon them (with taxes and property taxes), and are [nevertheless] involved in Torah every day, constantly. Remember how many youths there are in the midst of Israel, who do not know [how to differentiate] between their right and left [hands], and are [nevertheless] involved in Torah [learning] every day, constantly. Remember how many elderly men and women there are in the midst of Israel, who arise early and go late [at night] to the synagogues and to the houses of [Torah] study, and they love and desire and anxiously await Your salvation [of the Jewish People], every day, constantly… My Father in Heaven, remember Your covenant that You made with the early ones, with the three righteous ones, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov… You have also written for us in Your Torah, “And when your brother becomes impoverished and his means descends in your presence, and you shall strengthen him…” (Vayikra: 25; 35) (Meaning: Therefore, you shall also strengthen our hands, so that we shall never decline). My Father in Heaven, remember how many [people] are lame and how many are blind in the midst of [the nation of] Israel, who do not have sustenance, and even so, they pay the salaries of the teachers to learn Torah with their children. My Father in Heaven, remember [the People of] Israel who are Your acquisition forever, as it says, “…Is He not your Father Who has acquired you…” (Divarim: 32; 6), and it says, “HaShem Has acquired me, the first of His path.” (Mishlei: 8; 22) My Father in Heaven, remember how many orphans and widows there are in the midst of [the Nation of] Israel, who are involved with Torah and mitzvos every day, constantly…” see over there [for the full rendering of this prayer].

From this [above prayer], all people are able to learn, how each person from [the Nation of] Israel is required to arouse mercy before The Holy One, Blessed is He, upon Israel, with these words, and similar [words], as also nowadays these [aforementioned] merits and similar [merits] exist [within the Jewish Nation], for those who are aware of the poor situation that [the Jewish People find themselves in]. Nevertheless, Baruch HaShem[2], there are many [people] who learn Torah and fulfill [the] mitzvos, and there are many of those who strengthen, and there are many of those who strengthen Torah and carry out acts of kindness and perform righteousness, at every [place where the opportunity presents itself].

[1] Note from “Kol HaLashon” – the Hebrew printing of seferShmiras HaLashon”: The explanation that [the Chofetz Chaim] brings in parenthesis, is [taken] from the commentary “Yishu’as Ya’akov”, [on the teaching from Tanna D’vei Eliyahu].

[2] “Baruch HaShem” - Literally, “HaShem is The Source of Blessing”, is commonly said as a “substitute” for “Thank G-d”.

Shmiras HaLashon ח טבת - Teves 8 - Ninety-Eighth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[In the context of speaking slanderously against the Jewish People, we learn as follows in the] Zohar Chadash[1] 21b: “Rabbi Akiva said, “Even though one would be the most righteous individual in the entire world, [if] he will speak [that which is] evil before The Holy One, Blessed is He, [Meaning: That he will complain, Heaven Forbid, concerning The Holy One Blessed is He], or speak Lashon HaRa about the Jewish People, his punishment is greater than all of their [punishments]. We have not found a righteous individual as great as Eliyahu in every generation, and because he spoke Lashon HaRa against the Jewish People,…, as it is written, [[And he said, ‘I have surely been zealous for HaShem, the G-d of Legions], For the Children of Israel have abandoned Your covenant, they have razed Your altars, and Your prophets they have killed with the sword.’” (Milachim I: 19; 14)] At that moment, [Eliyahu] sinned greatly before [HaShem]. Come and see that which is written [in reference to Eliyahu as a result of his sin]: “And he stared, and behold, next to his head was a cake of cinders…” (Milachim I: 19; 6) Why [is it that he was to eat] cinders? The Holy One, Blessed is He, said, “Such [food made out of cinders], is fitting to feed to one who speaks slanderously against My children…” Rabbi Yitzchak said, Eliyahu did not move from [that spot] until he swore before The Holy One, Blessed is He, that he would constantly demonstrate the merit of the Jewish People, and [concerning] all of those who perform a meritorious [action, Eliyahu] precedes and speaks [of that action] before The Holy One, Blessed is He, [as follows]: "Ploni[2] [just] now performed such-and-such [a meritorious deed]", and [Eliyahu] does not move from [that spot] until they, [in Heaven], will write [down] the merit of that individual, as it is written, [“…and a Book of Remembrance shall be written before him…” (Malachi: 3; 16)]”, up to here is the text of the Zohar Chadash in short.

From all of this [that we have learned], we are able to see the greatness of the caution that each person needs to take with respect to himself, to refrain from arguing for the guilt of the Jewish People, and, on the contrary, he should constantly accustom himself to arouse [Heavenly] mercy [upon them] and to mention their meritorious deeds, and because of this, he will be loved and desired before The Holy One, Blessed is He, as we find in [maseches] Yoma (77a)[3], with regard to [the angel] Gavriel, at the time that he stood outside the partition [in Heaven], and aroused [the] merit of Israel, The Holy One, Blessed is He, responded: Who is this one who argued [for the] merit of My children? As a result of this [action], they brought [Gavriel] up within [the area surrounded by the partition], see over there, [in maseches Yoma][4].

[1] This teaching from the Zohar Chadash is found in the Midrash HaNe’elam, Parshas Noach.

[2] “Ploni” is often used to refer to an anonymous individual.

[3] [Note from "Kol HaLashon: See the Ba”Ch on this gemara].

[4] The gemara discusses of a terrible sin that was being committed at the Beis HaMikdash, for which HaShem commanded Gavriel to have coals taken from the Kiruvim to be thrown on the city of Jerusalem. Gavriel had the Kiruv take the coals first and give them to him, thus allowing the fire of the coal and the punishment of the Jewish People to be lightened. For not following HaShem’s command, Gavriel was punished with sixty lashes of fire and being sent outside the partition in Heaven. Gavriel was permitted back in to the area surrounded by the partition after defending the Jewish People from the request of Dubiel, the angel of Persia who wanted the nations to have dominion over the Jewish scholars. Thereupon, Gavriel was again allowed within the partition.

In the gemara, Rabbi Chana bar Bizna said in the name of Rabbi Shimon Chasidah said that the Jewish People would not have had a [surviving] remnant had the coals from the Kiruvim had not been cooled down.

Shmiras HaLashon ז טבת - Teves 7 - Ninety-Seventh Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[Just as we have learned about Yishayahu being punished for speaking improperly concerning the Jewish People, we find] similarly regarding Moshe Rabbeinu, Alav HaShalom, [that he was punished for having] said, “students of sinning men” (Bamidbar: 32; 14), [by having] Shivuel ben Gershon, who was an assistant in the service of idol worship, descended from him, as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said.[1] Moreover, we found with regard to Eliyahu, [in punishment] for him saying, “…I have surely been zealous [for HaShem The G-d of Legions], for [the Children of Israel] have left Your covenant…”, (Milachim I: 19; 10) he was removed from the [group of those who] prophesy, as a result.[2] [In addition], The Holy One, Blessed is He, commanded him to anoint Elisha in his place, as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said.[3]

[Furthermore], it is written in Sefer Chareidim on page 51,[4] in the name of the Midrash, [where we learn] that the captain [of the king of Israel, he being] punished for saying, “Behold, HaShem Will make windows in the Heaven, will this matter occur?” (Milachim II: 7; 2) Such is what [this captain] said: Definitely HaShem is capable of performing [this action of miraculously bringing food to the Jewish People in the very near future to end the famine]. However, this generation resembles the generation of the flood, with respect to whom it would have been fitting to make windows in the Heaven, as [occurred to the generation of the flood, from where HaShem brought much of the floodwaters to wipe out the entire world, with the exception of Noach’s family, all that were aboard the Ark, and sea-life], as it is written, “…and the windows of the Heaven were opened.” (Bireishis: 7; 11) How is it possible that for such an evil generation there will be a great miracle such as this [immediate end to the famine]? Elisha the Prophet responded to him, that since he argued [with words of] prosecution against the Jewish People, he will see [the miracle of the immediate end of the famine] and, [nevertheless], he will not eat [from this food].”

My brother, notice a great metaphor in Tanna D’vei Eliyahu (Eliyahu Rabba), [in] chapter seven, [as follows]: “The Children of Israel are analogous to a vineyard, as it says [in sefer Yishayahu], “For the Children of Israel are a vineyard [belonging to] HaShem, [Master of] Legions…” (Yishayahu: 5; 7) Based on [the above], Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol says: “The House of Israel, who are the vineyard of The Holy One, Blessed is He, do not peer into them (Meaning: Even with your eye, do not stare at them for the [purpose of] evil), and if you have peered into him, [at least] do not go into his midst, and if you have gone into his midst, [at least] do not benefit from him, and if you have benefited from him, [at least] do not eat from his fruits. If you peered [into] him, and went down [into his midst], and benefited [from him], and ate from his fruits, [that] person will eventually be cut off from the world.”

[1] This teaching can be found in Yalkut Reuveini, [Parshas] Mattos, quoting in the name of the MidrashBamidbar (32; 14).

[2] According to the MaLBI”M, Eliyahu was punished for acting zealously against the People of Israel, once by requesting HaShem to bring a drought due to the sins of the Jewish People, and once by ordering the “prophets” of the idol Ba’al, to be killed. With respect to the cessation of rain due to the practice of idolatry, “Eliyahu the Tishbite from the inhabitants of Gilad said to Achav, [I swear that just as] HaShem, The G-d of Israel, Whom I have stood before, lives, that these years [will not have dew and rain], except in accordance with my word.” (Milachim I: 17; 1) The other incident involved Eliyahu demonstrating to the People of Israel, by way of a public miracle that HaShem is The G-d of Israel, and He is to be worshipped, in contrast, the idol Ba’al should not be worshipped. The miracle involved a fire descending from Heaven and consuming Eliyahu’s water-soaked sacrifice. (Milachim I: 18; 21 – 39) After the Jewish People accepted HaShem by dramatically declaring, “...HaShem, He is The G-d, HaShem, He is The G-d” (18; 39), Eliyahu ordered the four-hundred “prophets” of the idol Ba’al to be slaughtered. (Milachim I: 18; 40)

HaShem, by presenting Eliyahu with the angels of wind, trembling, and fire, demonstrated to Eliyahu that these “loud”, destructive angelic forces do not have HaShem’s Divine Presence pass through their “camp”. It is only in the “silent, thin voice” where HaShem’s Divine Presence resides.

HaShem means to inform Eliyahu that just as His Divine Presence is not “found” within the violent destructive forces of destructive winds, quakes, and fires, so too, His prophets and messengers should follow in His example. Of course, HaShem Created the Universe and HaShem is everywhere. However, these loud natural phenomena "mask" HaShem's Presence in the eyes of people. It is only in the "silent, thin voice" wherein HaShem's Presence is clearly recognized by people. HaShem is teaching Eliyahu not to involve himself with destructive forces such as these, as he was involved, as mentioned above.

It is the way of HaShem’s messengers to bring His People closer to the Torah way of life by using “ropes of love” and soft words.

The RaLBa”G explains that HaShem only brings about these violent “forces of nature” in situations where they will lead to a positive outcome. It is the way of HaShem to delay His “anger”. In fact, the RaLBa”G notes that the cessation of dew and rain for three years was not successful in bringing the Jewish People closer to worshipping HaShem.

From the above, we learn that it is essential for the messengers of HaShem, even those of such great righteousness as Eliyahu, to use the “silent, still voice” approach, bringing the Jewish People closer to HaShem through the means of love. In contrast, unless instructed to explicitly, it is for the messengers of HaShem to avoid actions punishing the Jewish People. The goal is to bring the Jewish People closer to the Torah way of life, the means must justify those goals, being carried out in a manner which demonstrates that one “loves his fellow [Jew] as [he loves himself].” (Vayikra: 19; 18)

[3] [This teaching is] brought in Yalkut Milachim. See Yalkut Shimoni [on sefer Milachim I], chapter 19, Remez 217, in the end [of that section].

The Yalkut Shimoni states as follows:

“[HaShem asked Eliyahu when he came to Har Chorave]: “…Why have you come here Eliyahu?” (Milachim I: 19; 9) [Eliyahu] should have said before [HaShem, in response], ‘Master of the Universe, behold your children are the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov, who acted toward You in accordance with Your Will in Your world.’ [Eliyahu] did not do this, rather, he said, ‘I have surely been zealous…’ (Milachim I: 19; 10) The Holy One, Blessed is He, began speaking words of consolation with [Eliyahu]. He said, ‘When I descended to give the Torah to [the Nation of] Israel, only the Ministering Angels descended with Me, for they desired the good [of the Jewish People], as it says, “Go out and stand on the mountain… and following the [angels of] shaking, fire. [HaShem] waited three hours, [and Eliyahu] still stood by his first words, and said “…I have surely been zealous…” (Milachim I: 19; 14) [Thereupon], The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to [Eliyahu], “…and Elisha… you shall anoint as a Prophet in your place” (Milachim I: 19; 16) And that which you have in your mind, you are not able to do. (He said to [Eliyahu], ‘You are always zealous’.)

[Translator’s note: Eliyahu should have learned from the angels of HaShem who came in wind, quaking, and fire, that he should have taken their example, to argue to HaShem for the benefit of the Jewish People, even in that situation, where the people were behaving very improperly.]

A continuation of this discussion of the zealousness of Eliyahu is found in Yalkut Shimoni, Yihoshua, Remez 15:

Once the Kingdom of Israel split into the kingdoms of Yihuda and Ephrayim, the Kingdom of Ephrayim prevented bris milah (circumcision). Thereupon, Eliyahu stood up with great zeal and swore to Heaven that dew and rain would not descend. Queen Izevel heard about this and sought to kill Eliyahu. Eliyahu then stood up and prayed to The Holy One, Blessed is He and HaShem instructed him to flee for his safety, just as Ya’akov fled from Eisav, Moshe fled from Paroh, and David fled from Shaul. HaShem said to Eliyahu, ‘Why are you here?’ Eliyahu answered that he was zealous. HaShem answered him that he has always been zealous, at Shittim, with the incident of sexual promiscuity (See the end of Parshas Balak and beginning of Parshas Pinchas), and here you are zealous. As a result of this situation, Eliyahu was determined by HaShem to be present to witness all circumcisions of the Jewish People.

[4] This [teaching] is found in chapter 47, sif 23, according to the new printing.

Shmiras HaLashon ו טבת - Teves 6 - Ninety-Sixth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Chapter 7

Wherein Shall be Explained the Greatness [of the Trait] of being Careful to Avoid Arguing for the Guilt of a Jew, and [the Person’s] Reward for Arguing for [the] Innocence [of a Fellow Jew]

Behold, in the previous chapters, we explained in reference to [the importance of judging] an individual person [favorably. As we have demonstrated that judging an individual Jew favorably, is of great importance], how much more so must a person be exceedingly careful to avoid arguing for the guilt of the Jewish People, for [that] sin [of arguing for the guilt of the Jewish People], is exceedingly great, as we find in [maseches] Pisachim (87b), [as follows]: “What is the meaning [of the following quote from sefer Mishlei]: “A servant should not relate slander to his master… A generation [that] will curse its father, and it will not bless its mother.”[1] ? (Mishlei: 30; 10 – 11) Even [if the] generation [is one] that curses its father and does not bless its mother, [one] should not relate slander to his Master, [with respect to the generation. In this context, “His Master” refers to] The Holy One, Blessed is He.” Please see [of the following incident that occurred to] Yishaya the Prophet, at the time that he beheld The Glory of HaShem. [At the time that Yishaya beheld The Glory of HaShem, Yishaya] said, “Woe to me, for I have been silenced, for I am a man of impure lips and in the midst of a nation of impure lips, do I dwell, for The King, HaShem [[Master of] Legions, my eyes have seen.]” (Yishayahu: 6; 5) Because [Yishayahu] said, “and in the midst of a nation [of impure lips, do I dwell”, even] though [by saying this] he did not intend to scorn the Jewish People, [as evidenced by the fact that] he also preceded by saying such [a statement] in reference to himself. [Yishayahu] only intended to say that he is not fitting to behold The Countenance of [HaShem’s Divine] Presence, both due to his actions and due to the actions of the nation, among whose midst he dwells. Nevertheless, see that which is written afterwards: “And one of the Sirafim [angels] flew [over] to me and in his hand was a cinder…, notice that this has been touched upon your lips…” (Yishayahu: 6: 6 – 7) Our Sages of Blessed Memory have [also] said[2] that [the word “רצפה” – “ritzpah”] is an acronym, [as follows]: “רצץ פה” – “Ritzotz Peh” – “Crush the mouth that spoke slander against My children.” Eventually [Yishayahu] died as a result of this matter, as is written in [maseches] Yivamos (49b), [as follows][3]: “…They brought the cedar [tree] and sawed it, once they reached [Yishayahu’s] mouth, he died”, see over there.[4]

[1] On this pasuk quoted from seferMishlei”, RaSh”I comments that one should not pass judgment against even a very sinful individual, the proof of this being the incident that the gemara records involving the Prophet Hoshea. (Bava Basra, 46a) Hoshea asked HaShem to exchange the Jewish People for another nation, as many of the Jewish People at that time were very sinful, as the above gemara explains. In punishment for such a request, HaShem commands Hoshea to marry a woman who is promiscuous, who would bear him children of promiscuity.

[2] Note found in the Hebrew “Kol HaLashon” printing of seferShmiras HaLashon”: [[This teaching is found in] Yalkut [Shimoni, in] Remez 406 [in seferYishayahu”], as well as in Shir HaShirim Rabba, on the pasuk – “Al Tiruni…”]

The Yalkut Shimoni and Shir HaShirim Rabba also note incidents involving Moshe Rabbeinu and Eliyahu HaNavi when they were wrong in criticizing the Jewish People and their punishments for doing so.

[3] The gemara in maseches Yivamos (49b), discusses the death of Yishayahu, the Prophet. King Minashe brought Yishayahu before him with the intent to kill him. In order to act as if his killing of Yishayahu was justified, Minashe first queried Yishayahu vis-à-vis some things which he had said, that, on the surface, may appear to contradict some things that Moshe Rabbeinu had said. Yishayahu said that if he were to explain the verses that he was quoting as saying, as well as the ones that Moshe was quoted as saying, the apparent contradiction between Yishayahu’s teachings and Moshe Rabbeinu’s teaching would dissipate. However, Yishayahu said that if he were to indeed reconcile all of the verses quoting the two of them, Minashe would either have him killed for “intentionally” contradicting some of the teachings of Moshe Rabbeinu, or simply not accept what he were to say. Thereupon, Yishayahu said one of HaShem’s Holy Names, and was swallowed into a cedar tree. Minashe had the cedar brought to him, and had it axed open. Once they got to the point were they were sawing the tree open at the point where they sawed Yishayahu’s mouth, Yishayahu died. The gemara explains that this was the punishment that befell Yishayahu at the end of his life for saying in reference to the Jewish People, “…and in the midst of a nation of impure lips, do I dwell…” (Yishayahu: 6; 5) RaSh”I explains that Yishayahu was punished for making the above statement in reference to the Jewish People, for he stated it though HaShem did not command him to say it, and as well, Yishayahu did not make the statement for the purposes of rebuking the Jewish People.

[4] * [Chofetz Chaim’s note: See in the RITV”A (in his chiddushim over there in [maseches] Yivamos), [where] he inquired [regarding Yishayahu’s punishment], for [Yishayahu] was already pardoned [for the sin of speaking slander against the Jewish People], as the angel said, “and your sin has been removed, and your inadvertent sin has bee atoned [for].” (Yishayahu: 6; 7) [The RITV”A] answers that [Yishayahu] was only pardoned for that which he spoke before The Holy One, Blessed is He. Afterwards, the Prophet [Yishayahu] returned [to] speak these [words] before the Jewish People, and therefore he was punished a second time.

According to my humble opinion, it appears [fitting] to say, that the Prophet did not sin by subsequently relating [the above] to the Jewish People, for by [doing so], he demonstrated to them how great is [the] love [of the Jewish People], in The Eyes of The Master of everything, [HaShem] Yisbarach. [Rather], in truth, The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to the angel [to] “smash the mouth”, that being the punishment that [Yishayahu experienced] in the end [of his life. Yishayahu] did not merely get touched [on the mouth with the cinder, for] the touching [by] the angel [of Yishayahu’s lips with the cinder] was not [meant] to completely atone [for his sin], rather, as a result of being [touched by the cinder, Yishayahu’s main punishment] was put into abeyance until the end [of his life]. [The follows] the matter that [our Sages have] related [in maseches Yoma (86a), as follows]: “The suffering [of the individual] is suspended and death purges [the sin].” [The fact that] after the angel had already touched the cinder to [Yishayahu’s] lips, [the following] is written, “…behold [this cinder] has touched [upon your lips]… and your sin has been removed, and your inadvertent sin will be atoned” (Yishayahu: 6; 7), [teaches us the Yishayahu had not yet received the main part of his punishment. We know this, for the pasuk is written in the] future tense, it being a fitting testimony for [the above teaching from maseches Yoma, where we learn that for some sins, death is necessary to purge the individual of the sin]. Just as “and the jealousy of Ephraim will be removed” (Yishayahu: 11; 13) [is in the future tense], similarly, “תּכפר” – “will be atoned” is in the future tense, to demonstrate to us that [Yishayahu] was still not completely atoned [for his sin], only that now by being touched with the cinder, the atonement [for Yishayahu’s sin] has begun, and eventually the sin will be removed by this cinder. [However], the angel did not reveal [to Yishayahu] the intent of The Holy One, Blessed is He, through this [punishment of being touch with the cinder]. Otherwise, it is possible to say [that] “and your sin has been removed”, [refers to] the prosecuting [angel] that was created from that sin who didn’t prosecute [Yishayahu]. Similarly, we find by David, [that he experienced a similar situation], that the Prophet responded to him, “also HaShem has removed your inadvertent sin…”, that refers to the prosecuting [angel], as our Sages of Blessed Memory have explained. The essence of the Prophet [Yishayahu’s] sin was eventually forgiven for him, that [being the meaning of the phrase] “and your inadvertent sin will be atoned [for]”, in the future tense. The first answer that we have written is more fitting.]

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon ה טבת - Teves 5 - Ninety-Fifth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[Chofetz Chaim’s note: Furthermore, I have said [to bring the following teaching, in order] to calm the heart of the individual, so that he will not [even] think of taking revenge and bearing a grudge [against his fellow Jew. This teaching relates] to the way I explained the pasuk [of] “…Any you shall love your neighbor [as you love] yourself, I am HaShem.” (Vayikra: 19; 18) Seemingly, what connection is there [between the phrase] “I am HaShem” to the beginning of the pasuk? [In answer], I said that the intent of the pasuk, [with respect to the phrase “I am HaShem”], is coming to explain the beginning of the pasuk, [which states], “Do not take revenge and do not bear a grudge against the people of your nation, and you shall love…” [The aforementioned verse] appears astonishing, [for] if a person is very pressed for time, and he begs his fellow to do a favor for him in a given matter, and [his fellow] has the ability to perform this [request], and he [nevertheless] does not want to do it, and specifically [in a situation where his fellow were to] cause him grief, how [is it possible for] this person [to] not have any complaint [against his fellow], and even love him as [he loves] himself?

I have explained [a resolution to the above question] by way of a pleasant parable, [as follows]:

Reuven bears hatred against one person whose name is Shimon, and [Reuven initiates] a quarrel with him. Afterwards, one man arrives whose name is Yihudah, this Yihudah being held in the eyes of Reuven and in the eyes of everyone, to be a man of truth, [comes to Reuven] and recounts [to him,] saying how the man Shimon, “against whom you bear hatred, and you told me that he wasn’t a decent man [and is] a despicable man, [well], a number of days after [you related the above information about Shimon], I saw that he was [present] by one Torah leader of the generation, who is widely known to be a gaon[1] and [to be] a righteous [individual, as well as] a great scholar, with no one [to] compare [to his Torah scholarship. This great Torah leader] greatly honored [Shimon] and, in a number of matters, displayed to [Shimon] signs of his affinity [toward him]. My brother, you have been greatly mistaken [in your conclusions as to the character of Shimon, as well as your disparaging comments about him]!” Once Reuven heard this matter [relayed to him by Yihudah], he was astounded about this matter [vis-à-vis Shimon], and responded [to Yihudah]: “You have brought doubt into my heart, for perhaps the truth is with Reb Shimon [who is] mentioned above, and only due to [the fact] that all [the actions] of a person [are] upright in his eyes, it had appeared to me that the law accords with me. Or, perhaps, in truth the law [does lie] with me, just that Shimon, [who is] mentioned above, is a man of deceit, and through his words of flattery, he caused the Gadol HaDor,
[2] who is mentioned above, to err [in his high regard of Shimon], to the point that it appeared [to him] that Shimon is a respectable man. Nevertheless, I shall not continue to speak [negatively] against [Shimon] due to the doubt that you have brought into my heart [vis-à-vis his guilt]”.

Afterwards, [once] a number of days [had passed], this man Yihudah came to [Reuven], he being held in [Reuven’s] eyes to be a man of truth. [Yihudah] then relates to [Reuven], saying [as follows]: “[I wish to relate to you] about how I have seen a more wondrous matter [than that which I related to you previously], that being that the man, [Shimon], about whom you [conveyed] to me that you still have a doubt about [his status as a respectable person, thinking that he may be] a man of deceit, and a man who is indecent, [well], I have seen that he was invited afterwards [to be present] by the [Torah] scholars of the earlier generations, and they also [demonstrated] great deference [toward Shimon], and they displayed their signs of love [for him] before all those present. Concerning the one Gadol HaDor, [about whom] I initially related to you [of his great admiration of Shimon], you responded to me that [Shimon] caused [this Torah leader] to err, [leading him to wrongly believe that Shimon is a respectable person]. However, with respect to these people, [the sages of the earlier generation, the above argument of yours] is not pertinent!” Once Reuven heard [of] this matter [relayed to him by Yihudah], he immediately responded, [as follows]: “The [truth] is with [what] you [have said], for my Yetzer [HaRa][3] deceived me in the essence of the matter.”

The [individual] Yihudah, [who we have] mentioned above, [continued by relating to Reuven], and related another [astonishing] incident [involving Shimon, as follows]: “Indeed, I know concerning this Shimon, that he was invited [to be present] by the early Sages of Israel, Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yihudah, and Rabbi [Yihudah HaNasi, the] composer [of] the Mishnayos, as well as their contemporaries, who were [worthy to be] frequented by Eliyahu [HaNavi], as is known. [These outstanding scholars, in addition to the previously mentioned Torah leaders], also glorified and praised [Shimon. In addition], Eliyahu HaNavi related before the aforementioned Tannayim[4], [concerning] how [the] Rabbi Shimon, [whom we have] mentioned earlier, is spoken about Above, [in Heaven], as well as [that] he heard from the Mouth of The Holy One, Blessed is He, that He loves [this] Rabbi Shimon.”

Once Reuven heard [of] this matter, he recoiled and fell on his face [in regret], and he said: “Woe to me, regarding [my having] initially thought that I am righteous and he is the evildoer, for according to that which I now [recognize, what I initially suspected] was not truly the case. [I now recognize that I am in the wrong], for The Holy One, Blessed is He, He being The Root of everything, [Who] knows that which is done in darkness and in open, Whose actions are perfect and all His ways are justice, when He loves a person, He definitely does not love him for no reason! With respect to the matter involving me and this honorable Rabbi Shimon, who is mentioned earlier, I contemplate a number of explanations [that would exonerate him of wrongdoing they being as follows]: A) The law goes with [Shimon] in the essence of the matter. Only as the matter [involves] me, and I was not [sufficiently] familiar with [this individual], Shimon, I imagined that the truth and the righteousness accorded with me, this being the matter that was the closest to me, [thus leading me to incorrectly conclude that Shimon was not a decent person. B)] Or, perhaps this matter [in which Shimon wronged me] occurred unintentionally, he himself [having] greatly regretted [having wronged me]. It is also possible that he intends in his mind to appease me regarding this [matter]. Or, [perhaps] there is another matter [that would demonstrate Shimon’s] innocence, of which I am unaware. In the meanwhile, I [am in] possession [of] a great sin concerning that which I have spoken about an individual, [about] whom The Holy One, Blessed is He, said concerning him that he [among those that] He loves. Apparently, the root of his soul, Above, [in Heaven], is exceedingly holy and awesome. I [greatly sinned by] having declared and publicized [Shimon] to be an individual who is indecent, a despicable person, [as well as] a man of deceit. From this moment, I very greatly regret [having arrived at a negative conclusion concerning Shimon and then having derided him]. [Furthermore], now [that I am aware] that The Holy One, Blessed is He, is [Shimon’s] friend I do not possess any hatred against him.”

[The above parable addresses the] intended [meaning] of the pasuk, with [reference to the phrase] “Do not take revenge and do not bear a grudge [against] the people of your nation, and you shall love your fellow [as you love] yourself…” (Vayikra: 19; 18) Perhaps you will say: In what manner will I be able to conduct myself, so that I do not have any complaint against [an individual who has wronged me], and even [come to] love him? The answer to this [question is found in] the [concluding phrase of the] pasuk, [where it states], “I am HaShem”, [which] means [as follows]: “I am HaShem Who have loved [this person]”, as is written in [sefer] Malachi, “I have loved you, says HaShem…” (Malachi: 1; 2), [and in sefer Divarim, the pasuk states], “You are children to HaShem, your G-d…” (Divarim: 14; 1), [Since HaShem loves this person], you are also able to love him. In truth, this matter [concerning how a Jew can react negatively toward his fellow], is obvious, for the person, since he only views [his fellow, below, [in this world], he being enclothed in material of physicality, [his fellow] is [therefore] not so important in his eyes. Specifically, if in a given matter [his fellow] is at odds with him, he considers [the other person to be] inconsequential in his mind. The same is not true of The Holy One, Blessed is He, for He actually knows of the root of the holiness of the soul of Israel, it being exceedingly great and awesome, as is written in the Holy Zohar in a number of places[5], [where we learn] that the root of the holiness of the soul of Israel is elevated, [existing] in an exceedingly awesome place. Therefore, the importance and love [that HaShem has toward the Jewish People], is also exceedingly [great].”]

[1] “Gaon” refers to an individual who is an exceptional Torah scholar, and is considered a “gaon” – “genius” in Torah matters.

[2] “Gadol HaDor” refers to the Torah leader (or one of the Torah leaders) of the generation. “Gadol HaDor” literally means “great one of the generation”.

[3] "Yetzer HaRa" is one's evil inclination and regularly attempts to encourage the individual to sin.

[4] “Tannayim” refers to those rabbis who are recorded in the Mishna.

[5] This teaching can be found in the Zohar in Volume 3: 252b, see [also] in Volume 1: 13a.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon ד טבת - Teves 4 - Ninety-Fourth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Therefore, [as all Jews are part of one greater whole], we have found a number of instances in the words of our Sages of blessed Memory, [where we learn] that, if Heaven Forbid, a person performs a sin, he thereby corrupts the entire Jewish People, for [the Jewish People] are comparable to one body. If one were to have a severe pain in a given limb, the other limbs [similarly] experience a sensation from that pain, though the pain that they suffer is not so great. [The above] relates to the matter that we find [taught] in Vayikra Rabba, parsha 4 (sif 6), [as follows]: ““Israel is a dispersed sheep…”, (Yirmiyahu: 50; 17) [from here we learn that the Nation of] Israel is compared to a sheep. Just as it is the way of a sheep that is stricken in one of its limbs, and all [of the sheep’s limbs] have a sensation [of that pain], so too [this is true of the Nation of] Israel, [if] one [person] sins, all of them are punished. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught: “[The effect that the sins of each individual Jew has on the entire Jewish People], is analogous [to a situation where] people were boarding a ship. [Once having boarded the ship], one of [the passengers] takes a drill and begins drilling [into the floor of the ship] below him. His fellow [passengers then] said to him: “Why are you doing this?” [The one doing the drilling responded] to them: “What does [my drilling] concern you? Am I not only drilling [only] below myself?” [Whereupon, his fellow passengers] said to him, [your drilling concerns us] because you are causing the ship to sink upon us!...”” See over there [in Vayikra Rabba, where we learn that the above teaching is related] to the explanation cited earlier, [that being that each Jews’ actions affect the entire Jewish People].

Therefore, my brother, [based upon what has been taught above], be exceedingly careful to refrain from taking revenge and bearing a grudge against your fellow, [for by doing so against your fellow], you are [truly] taking revenge and bearing a grudge against yourself. [To avoid taking revenge and bearing a grudge against your fellow], simply think to yourself that all of this that has occurred was Heaven-sent, due to your sins, and what [difference is there] to me if this suffering came about through this [person] or through someone else? If I truthfully accept all of this [suffering] upon myself, my sins will thereby be pardoned.

This follows that which [we learn about King] David, [when he] responded to Avishai ben Tziruyah, at the time that [Avishai] wanted to take retribution against Shimi ben Geira on behalf of [David, as Shimi was going about] shaming and insulting David, as well as cursing him [with] a [powerful] curse. [However], David did not allow [Avishai to harm Shimi], and he [rather] said, “HaShem said to him, “Curse”… ””[1] (Shmuel II: 16; 10) Our Sages of Blessed Memory have [also] said [in this context], that the Heavenly Court [at that time], voted and appointed David that he would be the fourth of the legs of [HaShem’s] Chariot, as we shall [discuss] this at length later on, G-d Willing.

[1] The entire verse reads, “And the King said, what [differences] are there between me and you, the son of Tziruyah, for he is cursing, for HaShem said to him, “Curse David”, and who will say to [Shimi], “Why are you doing this?”” (Shmuel II: 16; 10)

RaSh”I explains that David said that as someone as great as the head of the Sanhedrin, Shimi, would not be cursing David, unless commanded to do so by HaShem.

Shmiras HaLashon ג טבת - Teves 3 - Ninety-Third Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

In order to quiet the matter [of being wronged by his fellow] in his mind, I have said to copy [down] one lofty concept, the source of which is found in the Yirushalmi[1], [this teaching being brought] in the SMa”G,[2] [states as follows]: Just as if one would be walking on the path and one foot hit into the other foot, and, as a result, [the person] fell on the ground, and his body, face, as well as his foot got injured, aside [from the fact] that he does not think to take revenge against that foot by denying [the treatment to] heal it, he does not even bear any hatred against that foot. [The person does not exact retribution against his foot], for who is the foot [belong to], and who is his body and face? All [of these parts of his body] are part of one [being], though [the body] is separated into [various] limbs! Rather, [instead of taking revenge on his foot, the person concludes] that [it must be] his sins [that] caused [this suffering to befall] him.

[The above analogy] is similarly [applicable and it is forbidden to take revenge and bear a grudge against his fellow], if a situation will occur [in which this person] will not do a certain [act of] good to him, which he [had] sought from [this person]. Even [if his fellow were to] cause him pain, and insult him in a given matter, he should [nevertheless] not take revenge and should not bear [any] hatred [within himself] against [this individual. He should not retaliate or hate this person who he feels wronged him], for who is his fellow, and who is he? Everything has emanated from one source, as it is written [in Divrei HaYomim I], “Who is like Your nation Israel, they are one nation in the land” (Divrei HaYomim I: 17; 21), and it is written, “The entire soul that came to the House of Ya’akov…”, (Bireishis: 46; 27) [The above quoted verse] does not write “souls”, [in the plural, in order] to teach us, that, Above, [in Heaven], all the souls of [the Nation of] Israel are as one soul, even though each [person] has their own characteristics.[3] [This] resembles the overall [makeup of the] person, even though, in general, he is one person, however, he [is composed of] primary limbs, such as the head and the heart, [as well as] those [limbs] that are secondary such as the hand and the foot, [each limb serving a unique purpose. In addition], all [of the souls of] Israel, will, in the end, be gathered to one source, that being under [HaShem’s] Throne of Glory. [This follows that which] is stated [in sefer Shmuel, as follows], “and the soul of my master will be bundled in the bundle of life…”, as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in maseches Shabbos (152b), see RaSh”I]. Only in this world, as the person is enclothed in his own physicality, and each person’s affairs and actions are specific to him, a person imagines in his mind that he is an individual man, and is not connected at all to his fellow Jew, however, in reality, this is not the case.

[1] Note from the “Kol HaLashon” Hebrew printing of seferShmiras HaLashon”: [This teaching is found in [maseches] Nidarim: Chapter 9; Halacha 4, also see the commentary “Korban HaEidah” on the gemara.]

The gemara in the Yirushalmi discusses an incident where Rabbi Meir retracted an individuals vow to not financially benefit a specific Jew. He stated, had you known that by vowing against helping this individual you would have transgressed the mitzvos of not bearing a grudge, not taking revenge, loving your fellow Jew as you love yourself, and helping your fellow by allowing him to “live with you” by supporting him, you would not have taken the vow against benefiting him financially.

[2] From “Kol HaLashon”: This teaching is found in the SMa”G (Sefer Mitzvos Gidolos), positive [mitzvah] 9.

[3] A similar teaching is found in Vayikra Rabba (Parsha 4, end of sif 6), where Rabbi Yihoshua ben Korchah teaches that the Jewish People are considered as sharing one soul, for we serve the same G-d. However, with regards to Eisav, the Torah writes "souls" in the plural. (Bireishis: 36; 6) The reason for the distinction between the descendants of Ya'akov and the descendants of Eisav is that Eisav's descendants worshipped many "gods".

Shmiras HaLashon בּ טבת - Teves 2 - Ninety-Second Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Chapter 6

Wherein Shall be Explained [Regarding] The Prohibition[s against] Taking Revenge and Bearing a Grudge, [as well as] The Great Merit of The Person Who Guards Himself from [these sins]

In addition [to the obligation to love one’s fellow as the person loves himself], if an [incident] occurred to him, [involving] his fellow treating him improperly in a given matter, nevertheless, [the victim of such wrongful action] must be careful to not take revenge and to not bear hatred [against this individual]. Rather, he must wipe out this incident from his heart, and he must practice [that which is] good [when dealing] with [the person who wronged him], in all matters [of their interaction], as [he would act] with all of the rest of Jewish men, [to the extent] that there never [existed] hatred between [him and the offender. This follows that which] is written [in Parshas Kidoshim], “You shall not take revenge and shall not bear a grudge against the people of your nation, and you shall love your fellow as [you love] yourself…” (Vayikra: 19; 18) [Also], please go and see in the Holy Zohar, Parshas Mikeitz (Volume 1: 201b), [where we learn of the] greatness of the elevated level of the person who recompenses good in the place of [the] evil [inflicted upon him by others. The Zohar states as follows]: “Come and see, [for] Yosef it was not sufficient [for him] that he did not recompense evil to his brothers [for the actions that they took against him], rather, he performed [acts of] goodness and truth with them. Such [behavior as Yosef exhibited towards his brothers], is the way that the righteous [behave] constantly. Because of this [positive response that Yosef dealt with his brothers], The Holy One, Blessed is He, constantly spared him [from troubles, both] in this world and in The World to Come.” [That section of the Zohar also writes] at length of an incident involving one person who was spared from death in a miraculous manner, because [he possessed] this holy attribute, [which Yosef displayed toward his brothers].[1]

The incident recorded in the Zohar is as follows:

“Rabbi Abba was sitting upon the door of the gateway of Lod [and] saw one person who was approaching, and he sat on a [resting place of] one of the mounds of the ground, and [this person, being] weary from the journey, sat and he slept over there. After a while, [Rabbi Abba] saw one snake that was approaching [this man, whereupon], a Kostifa D’Gurdina came out and killed that snake. (For a discussion of the meaning of “Kostifa D’Gurdina”, please see the last four paragraphs of this note). Once that person, [who was miraculously saved from the snake], awoke, he saw that snake [which had died, lying] opposite him. [Thereupon], that person got up [from the mound he had been sleeping upon], and that object [upon which he had been resting], fell into the lower depths [of the earth], and he was saved [from death].

Rabbi Abba [then] came to [this man, and] said to him, ‘Tell me, what is [the] deed [that you perform, in the merit of which] The Holy One, Blessed is He, performed these two miracles for you, [as these miracles] were not [performed] for nothing?’ That person said to [Rabbi Abba, as follows], “Every day there is never a person [who performs] any evil [action] against me, regarding whom I am not appeased by him and [do not] forgive him. Furthermore, if I am unable to be appeased with regard to him, I do not go down to my bed, until I forgive him. [Also], regarding all of those who cause me pain, the entire day I am not troubled regarding that evil [deed] that was done to me. [Solely taking the above-mentioned actions] are insufficient for me. Rather, from that day [that I am wronged] and onward, I strive to make peace with [those individuals who have wronged me].

[Thereupon], Rabbi Abba cried and said, “The actions of this [person] are greater than those [actions that] Yosef [performed], for Yosef’s [situation involved those whom he knew were] definitely his brothers, and it was [fitting for him] to have mercy upon them. However, [those actions] which this [Jew] performs are superior [to the actions that] Yosef [performed vis-à-vis his brothers]. It is fitting that The Holy One, Blessed is He, performed a miracle upon a miracle for [this individual].

[Rabbi Abba] opened [the following teaching by] stating [the following pasuk from Mishlei]: “One who walks with honesty of heart will walk securely, and one who perverts his ways will be broken.” (Mishlei: 10; 9) [The phrase] “One who walks with honestly of the heart will walk securely”, [refers to the above-mentioned] individual [who was miraculously spared from death] because he went on the path of the Torah. “He will walk securely”, for those in the world that inflict damage are not capable of harming him. “And those who pervert their ways will be broken”. Who will be broken? This [refers to] one who strays from the path of truth and desires to go with his friends. “יודע” – “yeevadea” (translated here as “he will be broken”, based on the commentary Mitzudas Tzion) – What is “yeevadea”? [This person] will be recognized (another translation of “yeevadea”) in the eyes of all of those “masters of judgment”, for the appearance of that person will not be lost from them, in order that they will be able to bring him to the place [where] they will exact revenge from him, and because of [these perverted ways of his], he will be recognized [by the “masters of judgment”].

Come and see, [in reference to] the person who walks in the path of truth, The Holy One, Blessed is He, covers over him, in order that he will not be made known and will not be recognized by the “masters of judgment”. However, “the one who perverts his ways will be made known”, and will be recognized by [the “masters of judgment”]. Worthy are those people [who] walk in the path of truth, and they walk securely upon [the] world, for they do not fear in this world, nor [do they fear] in The World to Come.

[Translator’s note: Perhaps this individual was saved middah k’neged middah – measure for measure, as follows. His life was threatened by a snake in the full view of Rabbi Abba. Rabbi Abba witnessed a situation, where, if not for HaShem bringing about a miracle, the individual would almost have certainly died from the snake bite. However, since this person made sure to forgive all of the people who had wronged him and didn’t even allow himself to ever possess a negative attitude against those who had wronged him, he did not risk coming to a situation where he would involve himself in forbidden speech against these individuals. Therefore, by saving himself from the sin of Lashon HaRa, this person saved himself from the danger of the snake. In Parshas Bireishis, the snake is the first one to commit the sin of slander, and against The Holy One, Blessed is He, at that (see Bireishis Rabba: 19; 4, or Cheshvan 8 (note 2), as well as Tishrei 15 (note 2) for a further explanation of the sin of the snake). According to Reish Lakish, quoted in maseches Bava Basra (16a), the Heavenly Prosecuting angel – the Satan, the Angel of Death, and the Yetzer HaRa (evil inclination) are one and the same. Before people possessed the Yetzer HaRa, the snake acted as the instigator, encouraging Chavah, and indirectly, Adam, to eat from the Eitz HaDa’as (Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil). Elsewhere, the Yetzer HaRa is described as having some relationship with the original snake. Therefore, this individual, described in the Zohar as having been miraculously saved from the snake/s, was probably saved, measure for measure, for not allowing himself to fall into the trap of the Yetzer HaRa (evil inclination), by coming to hate a Jew and speaking Lashon HaRa against him. He saved himself from coming to sin against his fellow, and he was later sinned from the venom of the snake/s.

We learn in the Zohar that this individual did not allow himself to go to bed until he forgives all of those who had wronged him. In this situation, this same person was miraculously spared from death, measure-for-measure, being protected while asleep from the snake, and once he awoke, he left the place he was sleeping, immediately before it descended into the depths of the earth. This individual did not fall into the depths of the earth, which can also be gehinnom - hell (it being below the surface of the earth), for he made sure to forgive all of those who wronged him. Therefore, this individual deserved to be saved by a “miracle upon a miracle”, where, under “normal circumstances”, he could have died at either of the two occasions – being bitten by a snake or falling into the depths of the earth.]

Kostifa D’Gurdina” – Two views:

Derech HaEmes: According to the commentary “Derech HaEmes”, “Kostifa D’Gurdina” is a piece of wood from the root of a tree. According to the explanation of “Derech HaEmes”, the individual discussed in the Zohar was tired from his journey and went to sit down in a fissure of a mound by the Gate of Lod. This person fell asleep, only to be approached by a snake. The piece of wood then fell on the snake and killed it. This individual who was miraculously saved awoke to find the dead snake. He then arose from the fissure in the mound. The fissure then fell into the depths of the earth. This was the second miracle HaShem performed for this person, thus saving his life.

Derech HaEmes” understands that the individual sat down in a “kulta d’tala d’ara”, which he explains to be a fissure in a mound in the ground. His explanation is based on his understanding of “kulta” to be “saduk”, as in an animal with split hooves, such as kosher animals.

Nitzotzei Oros: According to the commentary of “Nitzotzei Oros”, “Kostifa D’Gurdina” is a viper (or an adder). According to the explanation of “Nitzotzei Oros”, the individual discussed in the Zohar went to sit on a seat (or recliner) after a tiring journey, only to fall asleep. While he was sleeping, Rabbi Abba noticed a snake dangerously approaching the sleeping man. Before the snake had an opportunity to succeed in threatening this man’s life, a viper came out and killed the snake. In the presence of the viper, this man’s life was still in danger. The Zohar notes that the man awoke opposite the snake. According to this explanation, the Zohar seems to be referring to the live viper. The viper and the dead snake were on the recliner. After the man awoke, he arose from the recliner and the recliner fell into the depths of the earth, taking the viper and the dead snake along with it. Thus, the man was saved from the first snake, the viper, and falling into the depths of the earth.

Nitzotzei Oros” disagrees with the opinion cited in “Derech HaEmes”, and understands that this person sat on some sort of a recliner or seat situated at a mound of earth. He understands “kulta” to refer to such a thing as the hooves of the donkey which are not split. This explanation can find its source in Bava Basra (16a), where it states in the discussion of the punishment of Iyov (inflicted upon him by the Satan), that an oxen has hooves that are “saduk” – split, and that, on the contrary, a donkey has hooves that are “kalut” - closed. In that discussion, we learn that the individual discussed, sat down to rest upon some sort of seat that one can recline upon. Therefore, “Nitzotzei Oros” explains “kulta d’tala d’ara” to refer to a seat (or object to recline upon) at the location of the mound.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon א טבת - Teves 1 - Ninety-First Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

To what is [publicly scorning one’s fellow for a wrongful action that he performed] comparable? [Such public scorning is comparable] to a [person] who has a son who behaved in an improper manner, and he went before his father and publicized this matter before the masses. [For publicly embarrassing his son, the father] will definitely have a great complaint against [this individual], saying [to him as follows]: “You should have rebuked him privately concerning his behavior, and [if you would have done so], I would have loudly proclaimed my gratitude [to you]. However, you should not have gone [about,] immediately publicizing [my son as having acted improperly, thus leading to his suffering] public shame and scorn! [Due to your action of publicly shaming my son], I observe in reference to you, that your intention was not to acquire the truth, for if [such would have been your intention], it would have been better, both for him and you, had you rebuked him [privately] for [his improper behavior]. However, your [true] intent was to [publicize] your fellow [as being] guilty and evil, and to [thus] be happy at his misfortune, [you only did so] because [you are] heartless!”

[The above] is precisely the case with regards to [the relationship between] The Creator, Yisbarach, [and] B’nei Yisrael[1], His holy nation, for they are considered as children [with] relation to [HaShem], as the pasuk states, “You are children to HaShem, your G-d…” (Divarim: 14; 1) [HaShem] is happy [about the] good [that befalls the Jewish People], and is troubled by the trouble and shame [that befalls them] (as is [taught] in [maseches] Sanhedrin (46a).[2]) [This person who publicly shames his fellow Jew, in essence], goes before The Father, Who fills the entire land with His Glory, and brings shame to His son before others for no purpose. What pleasure does [HaShem] obtain from this [embarrassment inflicted upon His son]? The RaMBa”M has written [the following] rule for us with regards to the mitzvah of “And you shall love your fellow [as you love] yourself.” [We learn in Hilchos Dayos (Chapter 6; Halacha 3)], that a person should have consideration for the money and dignity of his fellow, [just] as he would be anxious [to preserve] his own money and dignity[3]. [Similarly, we learn as follows in] Tanna D’vei Eliyahu (Eliyahu Rabba: Chapter 28; 18): “My sons whom I love, is there anything that I am lacking that I seek from you? What do I seek from you? Rather, that you shall love one another, and respect one another, and fear one from another, and that there shall not be found among you a sin, and robbery, and a disgusting matter, so that you shall never come to be blemished. Therefore it says [in sefer Michah], “He (i.e. HaShem) tells a person that which is good, and what does HaShem request of you, only to perform justice, and love kindness, and walk modestly with your G-d.” (Michah: 6; 8)…”, see over there[4].

[1] “B’nei Yisrael” refers to the Jewish People.

[2] The gemara in maseches Sanhedrin, states as follows:

“Rabbi Meir said: “At the time that a person is suffering [as a result of a sin that he committed – RaSh”I], what does [HaShem’s] Presence say [to express Its displeasure]? I have a heavy feeling from My Head, I have a heavy feeling from My Arm. [From here we see, based on the context in this Mishna, that HaShem] is troubled concerning the blood of the evildoers that is spilled, how much more so [is He troubled] concerning the blood of the righteous [that is spilled].”

[3] This halacha quoted in the Mishneh Torah, states as follows:

“It is a mitzvah for every person to love each and every [member] of the Jewish People as [he loves] his [own] body, as it says, “…And you shall love your fellow as [you love] yourself…” (Vayikra: 19; 18) Therefore, [every person] must speak of his [fellow Jews’] praise and [must] have concern for his money, as he would have concern for his own money and [as he] would desire his own honor. [On the other hand], one who derives honor from the disgrace of his fellow does not have a portion in The World to Come.”

[4] Shai La’Mora, the commentary on Tanna D’vei Eliyahu, explains that HaShem does not want the Jewish People to act in an improper manner. HaShem does not want there to be “sin” among the Jewish People. “Sin” over here refers to the transgressions committed in the area of the relationship between man and HaShem. “Robbery” refers to the transgressions of the Jewish laws between man and his fellow man. “A disgusting matter” refers to negative character traits and negative desires, which are truly disgusting matters.

From the above teaching from Eliyahu Rabba, we learn of the great importance of ridding ourselves of negative character traits and all sins, including the transgressions between man and HaShem and the sins between man and his fellow. In the context of seferShmiras HaLashon”, we learned that the RaMBa”M explained of the importance of exhibiting concern for a fellow Jews’ money. Here, in Eliyahu Rabba, we learn that complete disregard of one’s fellows’ money, such as robbing from him, is the example given that represents the sins between man and his fellow person. Clearly, disregard for another’s money is disregard for “loving one’s fellow as oneself”.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon ל כּסלו - Kislev 30 - Ninetieth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

This mitzvah of loving one’s fellow [by warning them to avoid a given action which may bring them shame], also applies prior to the [individual performing the] incident so as to avoid his fellow coming to [suffer] disgrace. Just as [would be the case] if he were to marry off his son in another city, or [if] he himself is coming to live in another place, he being unaware of the manner and the behavior of that place, he would wander in his thoughts to try [to] find a trusted friend, who will inform him of the [acceptable] behavior of [the] place [where he will find himself. This individual whom he desires to befriend], if he were to observe that he is behaving improperly in a given matter, [this friend] will inform him of this [unacceptable behavior] discreetly, so that he, [as a newcomer], will [soon] know of [those actions and behaviors] which he should be careful [to avoid], and he will thereby not be despised by the people of the city. So too, in precisely such a manner [that he wishes another will act in relation to him, as mentioned above], he must act with [reference to] his fellow. That is, if he sees that [his fellow] will stumble in a given matter, which will prove dishonorable to him, even if [this matter in which it appears he will stumble does not involve transgressing]] a prohibition, [this individual who is aware of the unacceptability of such behavior], is obligated to [warn the person who is about to commit the given act], so that [this individual] will not be despised as a result of this [action that is deemed inappropriate]. (In a similar vein, we [learn] in [maseches] Horayos (13b), of [an incident involving Rabbi Ya’akov ben Karshi [and] Rabban Shimon ben Gamiliel, see over there [in the gemara][1]. Furthermore, we [learn] in [maseches] Sanhedrin (11a) of a number of Tannayim[2], who drew scorn upon themselves, in order to remove this [scorn] from [coming] upon another [person].[3]) [Just as one is obligated to warn his fellow to avoid an action merely deemed inappropriate by others], how much more so is one required to confidentially inform his fellow to avoid a given action if he notices that the [other] person is doing that which is improper according to halacha. [In such a situation, this person is also required] to rebuke [the one committing the given transgression], with respect to [the unacceptability of] this matter [with which he is involved], so that [the given individual] will not fall into evil in this [world] and in [The World to] Come, [as a result of his sin. By doing so, the individual that encourages and exhorts his fellow to avoid committing the sin], will thereby fulfill the positive commandment of [giving] rebuke, as well as the mitzvah of “and you shall love your fellow as [you love] yourself”, (Vayikra: 19; 18) as mentioned earlier.

[As a result of performing the aforementioned actions, encouraging his fellow to remove himself from improper behavior, that person causes] great satisfaction to come to The Creator, Yisbarach, for [this person brought] rectification [to] His son [encouraging him] to [act in the] service [of HaShem]. However, if, Heaven Forbid, he will not do [the above and not discreetly inform his fellow of a wrongful action that should be avoided], and will [rather] go and scorn [this person before others] because of [the wrongful action he undertook], what [benefit] results to The Creator, Yisbarach, [for unnecessarily shaming his fellow]?

[1] This gemara in maseches Horayos discusses an incident where Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, the President of the Sanhedrin, changed the practice of everyone present standing in honor of the Deputy and the Scholar of the Sanhedrin. On the day that the Deputy, Rabbi Nossan, and the Scholar, Rabbi Meir, were not present at the Sanhedrin, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel changed the rule, requiring fewer people to stand in honor of the Deputy, and even fewer to stand for the Scholar. Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Nossan, as a result of having their honor diminished, planned to have Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel removed from his position as President of the Sanhedrin, while Rabbi Nossan and Rabbi Meir would be promoted to the positions of President and Deputy of the Sanhedrin, respectively. The plan was that on the next day, they would ask Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel to teach the tractate Uktzin before those present. Knowing that Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel was unfamiliar with that tractate, the people present would want him to be replaced by a President who had (what at least would seem to be) a more greatly encompassing knowledge of the Torah. Upon hearing of this plan, Rabbi Ya’akov ben Karshi indicated to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel that he must learn maseches Uktzin that night, for he would be asked to teach that tractate the next day. Rabbi Ya’akov’s intention in relaying this information was to avoid the embarrassment that Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel would suffer if he would publicly be asked to teach that tractate when unfamiliar with its contents.

[2] "Tannayim" refer to the Torah scholar of the period of the Mishna.

[3] The gemara in maseches Sanhedrin (11a), records a number of incidents where Tannayim, and others, took special measures to avoid embarrassment coming to their fellow. The gemara states as follows:

“There was an incident involving Rabban Gamliel, who said, get seven people to arise early to come to the attic [in order to halachically determine whether a month should be added to make the year into a leap year]. He arose early and found eight [people present. Rabban Gamliel] said, ‘whoever is the one who ascended [to the attic] without permission shall descend.’ Shmuel HaKattan stood up and said, ‘I am the one who ascended without permission. I did not come [to take part in] making the year into a leap year, rather, [for the purpose of learning the practical halacha [in reference to determining the Jewish leap year], I [found it] necessary [to come.’ Rabban Gamliel] said to him, ‘Sit my son, sit. All of the years are fit to be determined to be a leap year by you. However, [this can not be done, for] the Sages have said that we do not determine the leap year except with those who are invited to determine the leap year.’ It was not Shmuel HaKattan [who ascended without permission], rather, it was another person [who ascended without permission], and for the sake of [avoiding another] being embarrassed, [Shmuel HaKattan claimed that he was the one who ascended uninvited].

[There was another incident] when Rabbi [Yihudah HaNasi] was sitting and expounding [a Torah teaching] and the smell of garlic [was present in the room. Whereupon, Rabbi Yihudah HaNasi] said, ‘Whoever is the one who ate garlic should go outside.’ Rabbi Chiyah stood up and went out. [Thereupon], all [of the others who were learning at the class] stood up and went outside. In the morning, Rabbi Shimon, the son of [Rabbi Yihudah HaNasi] found Rabbi Chiya. [Rabbi Shimon] said to him, ‘You are the one who brought distress to [my] father.’ [Rabbi Chiya responded], ‘There should not be one [who would do such a thing] in [the Nation of] Israel.’ From where did Rabbi Chiya learn to [behave in such a way]? He learned [such behavior] from Rabbi Meir. For we learn in a Baraisa, [as follows]: “There was an incident involving one woman who came to the Study Hall of Rabbi Meir. She said to [Rabbi Meir], ‘One of you betrothed me with sexual intercourse. Rabbi Meir stood up and wrote a bill of divorce for her and gave it to her. All [of those present] stood up and gave her [bills of divorce]. Where did Rabbi Meir learn [to act in such a manner]? He learned it from Shmuel HaKattan. From where did Shmuel HaKattan learn such [behavior]? He learned it from Shichaniah the son of Yichiel, as is written, “And Shichaniah the son of Yichiel from the children of Eilam answered, and he said to Ezra, ‘We have transgressed against our G-d, and we have settled with alien women from the nations of the Land [of Israel], and now there is hope for Israel regarding this.” (Ezra: 10; 2) From where did Shechaniah the son of Yichiel learn of such [behavior, stating an untruth about himself in order to minimize embarrassment to others]? He learned of such [behavior] from Yihoshua, as it is written, “And HaShem said to Yihoshua, you shall get up, why are you fallen on your face? [The Nation of] Israel has sinned…” (Yihoshua: 7; 10 – 11) [Whereupon, Yihoshua] said before The Master of the Universe, ‘Who sinned?’ [HaShem] said to [Yihoshua], “Am I a talebearer for you? [Rather], draw lots [to discover the culprit.] Alternatively, I could say that [Shechaniah learned such behavior] from Moshe, as it is written, “[And HaShem said to Moshe, ‘Until when shall you refuse [to guard My mitzvos and My laws]?’”” (Shmos: 16; 28)

RaSh”I comments that HaShem asked in general, [referring to all the Jewish People, when He said], “Until when shall you refuse to guard My mitzvos and My laws?” HaShem issued a statement referring to the Jewish People in general, though only a small portion of the Jewish People sinned by seeking Manna to gather on the Shabbos, (Shmos: 16; 27) though explicitly prohibited to do so. (Shmos: 16; 25 – 26)

Thus, from the above gemara, as well as the gemara quoted from maseches Horayos (13b), we learn that in certain circumstances, protecting one’s fellow from suffering embarrassment is so great, that it warrants being untruthful.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon כ"ט כּסלו - Kislev 29 - Eighty-Ninth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Chapter 5

Wherein Shall be Explained the Mitzvah of “You Shall Love Your Fellow as [You Love] Yourself”

Once we truthfully contemplate, [we] find that the fulfillment of the mitzvah of judging your fellow favorably and the attribute of guarding the tongue [from forbidden speech], are dependant on the fulfillment of the positive commandment of “And you shall love your fellow as [you love] yourself”, (Vayikra: 19; 18) for if you truthfully love your fellow, you will definitely not speak Lashon HaRa about him, and you will seek with all of your strength [to discover his] innocence. [The person should seek out the merit of his fellow] just as would be the case if a certain incident would occur to him, [where] he did something that was improper, and people were standing [around] and discussing that affair, and [the person who did the questionable action] knows [of some information] that would show an indication of innocence about himself [vis-à-vis this incident], or that he performed this [action] inadvertently, or any other reason [that would explain his apparently improper action, if so, he would] greatly long that someone would be found who would argue for his merit, so that he won’t be shamed so greatly [by these people discussing the action that he committed]! So too, in precisely the same way [that he would want others to come to his defense], he is required to act [in the manner] for his fellow [by coming to his defense].

Shmiras HaLashon כ"ח כּסלו - Kislev 28 - Eighty-Eighth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Indeed, in accordance to the [degree] that one accustoms himself in this attribute [of judging his fellow favorably], so too, to [the extent that he judges others favorably, his] sin of Lashon HaRa will [similarly] be diminished from him, [as he will be more careful to avoid Lashon HaRa. Furthermore], in fact, the reason that a person needs to strengthen himself greatly in this attribute, to judge each person favorably, is that, due to this attribute of judging others favorably, and likewise, [with respect to] the converse, [by judging others negatively], Heaven Forbid, it is easy for a person to bring upon himself the [distinction of being referred to as] “righteous” or “evildoer”, for eternity. [The aforementioned is true], for it is known that the guilt and innocence of a person is dependant upon the quantity of mitzvos and sins that he possesses, as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said in a number of places (Kiddushin, 40b, also see RaSh”I [on that gemara]), [where we learn that] if [the person’s] mitzvos are greater [and outweigh his sins], he is in the category of [the] righteous [people], and if his sins are greater [than his mitzvos, then] he is in the category of [the] evildoers.[1] Our Sages of Blessed Memory have also said, (Rosh HaShanah, 16b, [see] the gemara [where this] teaching [is presented] with a different text): “Three books are opened for the Day of Judgment (this refers to the Great Day of Judgment, at the time of the Resurrection [of the dead], as RaSh”I explains [on the gemara]); [The] completely righteous are immediately written and sealed for eternal life, [the] completely evil are immediately written and sealed [to be punished in] gehinnom, as it says,… those [who are] in between…[2] ([The “completely evil”] refer to those whose sins are more numerous [than their mitzvos], as RaSh”I explains.) It is also known that, regarding the merits that a person possesses, even if they are numerous as the sand, if The Holy One, Blessed is He, will treat him with the complete attribute of justice, only a very few [mitzvos] will remain in his possession, for he did not complete a great many of them in all of their specifics and methods that are fitting [that are fitting for] that mitzvah, and even those [mitzvos] that he did complete according to the halacha, were not [performed] with [a degree of] love and with [the] fear and with [the] happiness that was fitting for the performance [of] that mitzvah. In summary, if The Holy One, Blessed is He, will be exacting, Heaven Forbid, after the performance of his mitzvos, he will find that a majority of [his mitzvos] are blemished, and the mitzvos that will remain for him, [after discounting the blemished mitzvos], will represent a small minority [of his deeds] in [respect] to the sins that he possesses, and as a result of [the exactness of HaShem’s judgment of him, that] person will perpetually be referred to as an evildoer. However, if The Holy One, Blessed is He, will treat [the individual] with the attribute of mercy [when judging him], and He will seek out merit for him in all of his matters, [then] his merits will remain on their foundations. Furthermore, even if [in the Heavenly Court] they were to count his actions and find that he has a majority of sins, if The Holy One, Blessed is He, will relate toward him with the complete attribute of mercy, the number [of his sins] will decrease, for [with respect to] many of [his] sins, he will undoubtedly be found to be innocent, in respect, for he performed [those sins] unintentionally, or for another reason [for which he could be treated leniently]. The sum of the matter [is as follows]: If The Holy One, Blessed is He, will wish to seek out merit for the person, [that merit] will not be lacking from Him. As a result [of being judged by HaShem with the attribute of complete mercy], if some of his sins will be diminished [to the point that] the [side of the] scale of merit will outweigh [the side of guilt], [this person] will [thereby] eternally be identified by the name righteous.

Indeed, [the person’s judgment in Heaven] is dependant on the way that he interacts with people in his lifetime. If he was accustomed to judging them favorably, they, [in the Heavenly Court], will also judge him favorably, as is [taught] in [maseches] Shabbos (127b).[3] If he was accustomed to draw conclusions of guilt about the people, and to speak evil about them, the Ministering Angels also speak evil about him Above, [in Heaven], as is [taught] in Midrash Mishlei[4]. Therefore, a person must know within himself while he is still alive, that at the time that he judges his fellow, whether for good or for bad, then, with his speech, he is actually setting up the [Heavenly] judgment of himself.

[1] The entire passage in the gemara states as follows:

“We learn in a Baraisa, [as follows]: A person should always see himself as if half of [his deeds are weighed on the side of] guilt and half of [them are on the side of] merit. If [a person] performs one mitzvah, he is praiseworthy, for he [moved] himself to the side of merit. If he performed one sin, woe to him, for he [moved] himself to the side of guilt, as it says [in Koheles], “And one sin will cause a great deal of good to be lost.” (Koheles: 9; 18) Due to one sin that he sinned, many good [deeds] have been lost from [his possession]. Rabbi Elazar, the son of Rabbi Shimon, says, “Since the world is judged after the majority, and the individual is judged after the majority, if he performed one mitzvah, he is praiseworthy, for he [moved] himself and the entire world to the [side] of merit. If [the individual] performed one sin, woe to him, for he [moved] himself and the entire world to the [side] of guilt, as it says, “…And one sin [causes a great amount of good to be lost.” Due to one sin that this one [person] performed, he caused himself and the entire world to be denied a great deal of good.” Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai says, even one who is completely righteous all of his days, and in end [of his life] he rebels [against the Torah way of life], he loses [the reward for] his first [deeds], as it says, “The righteousness of the righteous will not save him on the day of his rebellious sin.” (Yichezkhel: 33; 12) Even one who is a complete evildoer all of the days of his [life], and he performs Tishuvah in the end [of his life, the Heavenly Court] will no longer mention his evil, as it says, “And the evil of the evildoer, he will not stumble in it on the day he returns from his evil”, (Yichezkhel: 33; 12) and he will be as one who is equally divided between sins and merits. Reish Lakish said that [the above teaching where we learn that the righteous person who rebels against the Torah loses the merits of his previous deeds, only applies in a case] when he regrets [having performed his] first [meritorious deeds].

RaSh”I comments on the above gemara that a person should view the world as being comprised half of righteous individuals and half of evildoers and he should view his actions as being comprised equally of merits and demerits. If he performs one mitzvah, he would move himself, and thereby the entire world, to being comprised of a majority of righteous individuals, and if he performs one sin, the world will be composed of a majority of evildoers.

Based on the above, we can see how great the implications could be of any given action. Since the world is judged based on the majority, whether for punishment or for reward, if one moves the world to the side of merit based on his meritorious action, by performing one mitzvah, then the entire world benefits. However, if one sins, he may move the entire world to be composed of a majority of demerits, thus bringing a great deal of punishment to the world and causing the world to lose a great deal of good of which it would have otherwise benefited. Thus, before performing a mitzvah or an aveirah (sin), a person should contemplate the very negligible “reward” of sinning or refraining from doing the mitzvah as compared with the awesome reward, both for him and for the entire world. By doing so, a person would come much more easily to perform a mitzvah and refrain from performing an aveirah.

Regarding a righteous individuals who becomes an evildoer at the end of his life, chas v’shalom, RaSh”I comments that it should be considered that he has an equal number of mitzvos and aveiros. However, when he regrets having performed those mitzvos which he did earlier in his life, he loses the reward for having performed those mitzvos.

[2] The gemara in maseches Rosh HaShanah, states as follows:

“We learn in a Baraisa, [as follows]: Beis Shammai says, there are three groups on the Day of Judgment, one [composed] of the completely righteous, one of the completely evil, and one [that includes those who are] in the middle [of the first two groups]. The completely righteous are immediately written and sealed for eternal life, [those who are] completely evil are immediately written and sealed [to enter] gehinnom, as it says, “And many of those who were “sleeping” in the dirt ground shall awaken, these for eternal life, and these for eternal shame and disgrace.” (Daniel: 12; 2) Those who are in the middle [group] will descend to gehinnom [for a moment], will scream [and cry out] and ascend, as it says, “And I shall bring a third in fire, and I shall refine them as silver is refined and I shall test them as one tests the gold, he will call out in My Name, and I shall answer him.” (Zichariah: 13; 9) With regard to [those in the middle group who are , Chanah said, “HaShem puts to death and brings to life, brings down to sh’ole (hell), and brings up [from sh’ole].” (Shmuel I: 2; 6)”

[3] This is the gemara quoted previously that discusses the employee who judged his employer favorably when the employer said he was unable to pay him for his three years of service, immediately at the conclusion of his three years of service. Once the employer (Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkenos) compensated his employee (Rabbi Akiva), he asked Rabbi Akiva what he suspected him of when, at the conclusion of his three years of labor, he told him he was unable to compensate Rabbi Akiva with money and various commodities. Once he found out that Rabbi Akiva had judged him favorably, he told Rabbi Akiva that HaShem should judge Rabbi Akiva favorably just as Rabbi Akiva judged him (Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkenos) favorably. Following this incident recorded in the gemara are two other incidents, the first one involving a chassid, the second one involving Rabbi Yihoshua, both incidents looked as if these great individuals committed a forbidden act involving the opposite sex. In both cases, these scholars asked their students what they suspected them of when they witnessed the suspicious circumstances surrounding their respective incidents. In each instance, the students judged their rabbis favorably, which turned out to be correct. In each case, the rabbis told the students that just as the students judged them favorably, so too should, they should be judged favorably by HaShem.

[4] This teaching is found in Midrash Shocher Tov, over there, parsha 11, in the pasukShocher Tov…”