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 17, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: ב תשרי - Tishrei 2 - Second Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Whereupon learning of the [life-sustaining power of mitzvos], one can recognize how necessary it is to be careful [to follow] all of the 613 mitzvos with all of [one's] strength throughout his lifetime, for [those mitzvos] draw eternal life onto the limbs and ligaments of the soul. [This follows that which is written in Parshas Acharei Mos, [as follows]: “And you shall guard all My decrees and laws that one should perform them and live with them….”, it not [being] written [in the pasuk] “and live according to them”.
(Vayikra: 18, 5) [The wording] comes to teach us that it is the light of the mitzvah which sustains [the person's] existence in The World to Come (L’Asid Lavo)]. Therefore, just as [a person] wants to be complete with all of his limbs in this world, without defects even in the smallest of limbs, [he should be careful in his fulfillment of the 613 mitzvos so as to ensure completeness in all his limbs for eternity, in The World to Come].

Specifically regarding the matter of Shmiras HaLashon[3], if one permits himself to be [included among] a group of speakers of Lashon HaRa in this world, Heaven Forbid, he will consequently certainly not prevent his ears from always listening to and accepting the Lashon HaRa and Rechilus[4], especially [listening to and accepting the Lashon HaRa] so as to have something to relate to others. [The above] is the attribute of the Holeich Rochail[5], who goes and listens [to the goings-on] in one place, in order to “sell” this “merchandise” elsewhere. [The actions of the Holeich Rochail are] analogous to one who hawks his wares [as is depicted in Toras Kohanim [6] and in RaSh"I’s commentary [on Vayikra: 19, 16][7]]. [The Holeich Rochail] will corrupt his gifts of speech and hearing in his lifetime. His soul will similarly certainly be punished, in the future world, specifically via [his spiritual organs] of speech and hearing because of [their involvement in forbidden speech].[8]

As a result of [the person's] forbidden speech [involving] Lashon HaRa and Rechilus, he has transgressed [the prohibition of] “Do not be a talebearer in your nation...” (Vayikra: 19, 16) the essence of [this prohibition involving] the mouth. Upon hearing Lashon HaRa and accepting it, one encounters the prohibition of “Do not accept a false report” (Shmos[9]: 23; 1) [This is similar to that which is brought in Sefer Chareidim in [its discussion of] the prohibitions that relate to the ears.[10] I have quoted from Sefer Chareidim in Sefer Chofetz Chaim (volume 1, chapter 6 in Be’air Mayim Chaim (Sif Katan 2), in relation to the above teaching.] It is known that the attributes of speech and hearing are the main qualities [that reflect] the form and completeness of the person even in this world. [The Sages, quoted in maseches Chagigah (2b) teach the well known saying, that a cheresh (deaf-mute), [shares the halachic[10] status of] a shoteh[11] (lunatic) and a child in every instance. In Bava Kamma (85b) [we learn] that “If one is caused to become a deaf-mute, the perpetrator must compensate him maximally because his loss of value is considered [halachically[12]] “total”. [As a cheresh suffers such a devastating loss in this world], in the World to Come [he would he suffer] all the more so.

Even if we would say that as a result of his involvement with words of Torah and holiness during his lifetime, he will not be completely lacking his hearing and speech abilities in The World to Come, those senses will nevertheless undoubtedly be crippled, for he damaged them while he was living, [by speaking that which is forbidden] and did not repent [for having committed those sins]. For it is known to all who have understanding that even in this world, if, Heaven Forbid, one’s power of speech and hearing would be impaired, [he being able to speak and hear but with great difficulty], this will still cause the person [who sinned to suffer] anguish during his lifetime. As speech and hearing are the primary attributes of the individual, their impairment would cause that person far more shame than would impairment of other limbs. Furthermore, it is not possible for the person to conceal impairment of speech or hearing. [If one suffers so greatly in this world from impairment of speech and hearing], how much more so [will he suffer] in the Upper World[13], his soul suffering great distress in Gan Eiden[14] in public view! Even if the habitual speaker of Lashon HaRa would only be punished with impairment of his senses of speech and hearing, he would nonetheless suffer great embarrassment as a result. [The person who is impaired in their faculties of speech and hearing would be greatly embarrassed] in The World to Come, for it is known and recognized to everyone [in The World to Come] that impairment of [the faculties of] speech and hearing is due to one’s being a habitual speaker of Lashon HaRa and an instigator of conflict in this world.

[1] Shmiras HaLashon – Lit. “Guarding the Tongue” refers to the mitzvah of not engaging in discussions involving forbidden speech, such as Lashon HaRa and Motzi Shem Ra.

[2] Rechilus – Comes from the word “Rochail” – a traveling merchant who travels around trying to sell his wares. Rechilus refers to the act of “tale-bearing” and spreading evil reports, similar to the manner in which the merchant goes about advertising his goods. This refers specifically to a case where someone communicates Lashon HaRa about another person and a third party relates to the injured party that the first person spoke Lashon HaRa about him.

[3] Holeich Rochail refers to one who goes around and spreads Rechilus.

[4] This teaching from Toras Kohanim” is found on Parshas Kedoshim, chapter 4.

[5] The pasuk says, "לא-תלך רכיל בעמיך לא תעמד על-דם רעך אני ה:" (ויקרא: יט, טז) – “Do not be a tale-bearer among your nation, do not stand [idly] by the blood of your fellow, I am HaShem.” (Vayikra: 19, 16) RaSh"I explains that the Holeich Rochail is the traveling merchant who constantly hawks his wares. According to RaSh"I, “[The “tale-bearer” is referred to as “Holeich Rochail”] as all who instigate discord as well as those who speak Lashon HaRa go to the house of their fellow to spy, [collecting that which] they will see or hear [that is] evil so as to tell it over in the marketplace. Such individuals are therefore called "הולכי רכיל" – “Holchei Rochail”, [which can also be read as] "הולכי רגילה" – “Holchei Rigilah” - “those who go out spying” (as the "כ" (chaf) and "ג" (gimmel) are interchangeable in Hebrew)… They (i.e. the Holchei Rochail) are accustomed to eat in the house of the one who ravenously “eats” their words of Rechilus. [The individual who accepts the words of the Rochail] facilitates his continued Rechilus by lending credence to the veracity of the Rochail’s claims.”

[7] * {The GR”A (Acronym for Gaon Rav Eliyahu, Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer (1720 – 1797), commonly known as the Vilna Gaon (Great one of Vilna) - translator’s note) [comments] on the [following] pasuk: “He who scorns a [Torah] precept will cause himself injury, and one who holds a mitzvah in awe will be rewarded”. (Mishlei: 13; 13) According to the GR”A, “there are 248 limbs in a person, which correspond to the 248 positive commandments. Each of these mitzvos provides life to the corresponding limb. Therefore, one who scorns any mitzvah, causes himself damage, for he becomes lacking from the life-giving power of that mitzvah. However, one who fears neglecting any mitzvah, and sees to it that he fulfills everything, will be complete in all of his limbs [in The World to Come].”

We can also say, that this is the meaning of the following pasuk in Parshas Ha’Azinu: “Corruption is not His – the blemish is His children’s” (Devarim: 32, 5), the explanation being: “Corruption is not His”: Our sins only have the power to corrupt ourselves, they cannot corrupt HaShem. As it is written: “If you sinned, what have you accomplished against him?” (Iyov: 35, 6) This being similar to RaSh"I’s explanation [in Parshas Ha’Azinu] that “The blemish is His sons (Devarim: 32, 5). RaSh"I explains that the blemish is of His sons. The meaning follows the simple understanding that one becomes blemished [in The World to Come] due to his sins. That is, if Heaven Forbid he treats any mitzvah as ownerless, in The [World to Come] he will have a blemish in the limb corresponding to that [neglected] mitzvah. [This follows the above teaching] of the GR”A.}

[8] Shmos – Lit. “Names” refers to “Exodus”, the second book of the Torah.

[9] This teaching is found in chapter 23, [3], sif 3 in Sefer Chareidim – in the new printing.

[10] Halachic” and halacha” refer to Jewish law.

[11] Shoteh – Refers to a lunatic. This includes people who would engage in behaviors such as sleeping alone, undressed in a cemetery at night.

[12] Halachically – According to Jewish law.

[13] “The Upper world” is English for “Olam Ha’Elyon” which refers to the world of the souls.

[14] Gan Eiden is the “Garden of Eden” where the souls of the righteous will delight in the great spirituality and in closeness to HaShem.

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