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

Monday, July 31, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon י"ד תשרי - Tishrei 14 - Fourteenth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Chapter 2

More On This Topic [Concerning why The Torah is so Strict Regarding the Sin of Forbidden Speech]

In addition [to that which was stated in the previous chapter concerning the severity of the sin of Lashon HaRa], there is another reason [as to why Lashon HaRa is the most severe of sins]. For it is known that in accordance with how a person conducts himself in this world, he arouses the same type of attribute in the upper world. If he is accustomed to exercise restraint over his character traits and he behaves [toward] people with the traits of kindness and mercy, corresponding to [these positive attributes] he arouses the trait of mercy in the Heavens and The Holy One, Blessed is He, has mercy on the world because of his [actions]. From the fruit of the mouth of a person his soul will be sated; [by practicing mercy toward others] he similarly merits that The Holy One, Blessed is He, is merciful toward him and forgives [him for] his intentional sins. [This follows that which our Sages of Blessed Memory have] stated [in maseches Shabbos (151b), as follows]: “All those who have mercy on others, in Heaven they [act with] mercy [toward] him” [and] “One who overcomes their natural disposition [not responding] to those who wrong them – [in Heaven], they overlook all of his sins (Rosh HaShanah, 17a). This [above teaching] resembles the following [quoted] from the Holy Zohar[1]: “We have learned [that] an action performed in [this world] arouses the [corresponding] action Above, [in Heaven]. If a person performs an action properly in this world, similarly, the [corresponding] power aroused in a fitting manner Above, [in Heaven]. If one performs [acts of] kindness in this world, he arouses [the attribute of] mercy Above, [in Heaven], and [that attribute of kindness] rests [on the world] on that day, [the world] being crowned in [kindness] for his sake [as a result of his kindness. Similarly], if a person acts with mercy [in this world], he arouses mercy on that day and, [as a result, the world] is crowned in mercy for [the] sake [of the individual who acted with mercy, as a result of the mercy that he displayed toward others. In the merit of his mercy], that day [on which he acted mercifully], remains for him, [in order] to [act as a] shield for his sake in his time of need. A person is [judged] measure for measure [by Heaven]… Praiseworthy is the one who exhibits proper actions below, [in this world], for his actions [in this world] completely affect that which is correspondingly aroused [Above, in Heaven].”

If one’s disposition is to behave toward people [in a manner in which one does] not yield anything to them and does not have mercy upon them, [as a result, these actions], the Heavenly Attribute of Justice is strengthened [both] upon the world and [upon] himself, for Heaven judges a person [based on their actions], measure for measure, not conceding any of his [negative] actions. The aforementioned follows that which our Sages of Blessed memory intended to convey when they stated [in maseches Bava Metzia, (30b), as follows]: “Jerusalem was only destroyed because [the people] set all of their matters on Torah law[2].” Apparently, they committed many sins, as explained in the verse. According to [the aforementioned teaching from Bava Metzia”], the fact that a person is judged “measure for measure”] makes sense. For if [the Jews who lived prior to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash] would have overcome their natural disposition [and forgave their fellow Jews], The Holy One, Blessed is He, would have also forgiven them [in the merit of their having acted properly toward their fellow Jews, in a manner that was “beyond the letter of the law”]. However, [many of those who lived prior to the destruction of the Beish HaMikdash] set their matters [in a manner where they] did not yield to their fellow Jews more than the law demanded. Therefore, [in light of their behavior], The Holy One, Blessed is He, was also exacting [and unforgiving in His Judgment toward them in light of their sins, thus destroying Jerusalem and the First Beis HaMikdash].[3]

[1] The teaching from the Zohar is found in Parshas Emor, volume 3, 92, 1-2.

[2] There are two readings of this gemara, some read that the people always brought their legal matters before the Jewish courts. The reading of the Chofetz Chaim is “Jerusalem was only destroyed because [the people] set all of their matters on Torah law”. From a simple understanding of the gemara, one would naturally be led to ask why Yerushalayim would be destroyed for doing something seemingly good, in their case, as going to the courts to adjudicate any Torah matter based on Torah law.

In an explanation of what would have averted Jerusalem’s destruction, the gemara immediately continues, “and they did not act beyond the letter of the law”. The Chofetz Chaim therefore explains that each individual who behaved scrupulously by taking their cases to the high-court failed to give their fellow Jew any slack. For example, one person who felt that his fellow wronged him monetarily brought him to court to have things worked out according to the letter of the law based on the judgment of the court. Instead, the person could have forgiven his fellow, acting “beyond the letter of the law”, something perfectly acceptable in Jewish law. By taking their many disputes to the court to be “judged according to the letter of the law”, these individuals were judged according to the letter of the law. Since many of these people sinned frequently, they could not stand up to the strict judgment meted out by Heaven, and consequently Jerusalem was destroyed.

The Chofetz Chaim notes that the verses attest to the sinfulness of the people at that time. Perhaps the Chofetz Chaim was referring to the following verse"הוי גוי חטא, עם כבד עון, זרע מרעים, בנים משחיתים; עזבו את ה, נאצו את קדוש ישראל:נזרו אחור:" – “Woe, sinful nation, a people heavy with sin, a seed of evildoers, children who destroy; they have left HaShem, they have spurned The Holy One of Israel, they have separated themselves [from G-d], turning backwards. (Yeshayahu: 1; 4)

The Tosafos note on this gemara (Bava Metzia, 30b) that in maseches Yoma (9b), the gemara states that the Beis HaMikdash – Temple (and by extension, Yerushalayim) were destroyed as a result of baseless hatred between Jews. Tosafos answers that the reason for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash was both a result of the baseless hatred and people taking each other to court frequently.

It is essential to note the following: The Chofetz Chaim pointed out that the sins of the Jewish People are noted in the verses in the Tanach. The Tanach (which includes the Torah, Prophets, and Writings) only discusses the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash. The TaNa"Ch concludes with a recounting of the Jewish People’s return prior to the building of the Second Beis HaMikdash. Therefore, clearly the Chofetz Chaim is pointing out that it was the Jews who lived prior to the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash who frequently brought each other to court. Furthermore, we can see from the gemara - Yoma (9b) that the Temple referred to by the Chofetz Chaim was the First Temple. The gemara notes that the First Temple was destroyed due to rampant sexual immorality, murder, and idolatry. When discussing the reason for the destruction of the Second Temple, the gemara asks: “But during the period of the Second Temple, the people were involved in Torah learning and acts of kindness, so why was it destroyed?” The gemara answers: “Because of the baseless hatred that was [found] amongst them. This [gemara] comes to teach us that the sin of baseless hatred is equal to, [and as destructive as], the sins of sexual immorality, murder, and idolatry.”

What is important to note is that the Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, whereas the First Temple was destroyed due to the sins of sexual immorality, murder, and idolatry. Clearly, the Chofetz Chaim holds that the gemara noted above in maseches Bava Metzia (30b) refers to the First Beis HaMikdash, while the Tosafos hold that the court-prone society under discussion, existed in the time of the Second Beis HaMikdash.

Similar to the reasoning of Tosafos who notes that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed both due to baseless hatred and people not willing to go beyond the letter of the law, the Chofetz Chaim explains that the Jewish People were only judged on account of their terrible sins once they demanded to take each other to court, thus being unforgiving toward one another. For more on this topic, see the linked divrei Torah by Rabbi Frand and HaMa’ayan.

[3] This [teaching] can be found in sefer Toldos Adam. If [this teaching] is not found there, see the commentary “Iyun Ya’akov” on Ein Ya’akov in reference to the above gemara where this [teaching] is discussed.

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