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

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: ד תשרי - Tishrei 4 - Fourth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Indeed, every Jew wants to keep the Torah in its entirety, not detracting from it at all, as is written [in sefer Yeshayahu[1] (60; 21), as follows]: “And each [member] of Your Nation is righteous…”. However, there are many factors that cause people to slacken in this holy trait of Shmiras HaLashon, [concerning] which we shall explain later on in greater detail, G-d Willing. [At the present, let us touch upon] the three main reasons [for such laxity in guarding oneself from forbidden speech]:

1) Lack of knowledge: [This applies when] the speaker is ignorant regarding which types of speech fall under the category of Lashon HaRa. To address this [cause for laxity in observance of the laws of forbidden speech], we have compiled the first two sections in the book Chofetz Chaim.

2) The Yetzer HaRa’s[2] concentration in this matter [of Lashon HaRa]: [Our violation of the laws of Lashon HaRa] enables the Satan to prosecute us, [as we learn in the Zohar[3] on Parshas Pekudei]. Consequently, our prayers will not be accepted Above, [in Heaven] (Zohar, Metzora), as we have written later on [in this book], in the name of the Holy Zohar[4].

3) [Lack of strategy]: The strategies regarding how to deliver oneself from the hand of the Yetzer HaRa are hidden from us. [This is critically disabling in our fight against the Yetzer HaRa], as is written [in Mishlei (20; 18)]: “[A]nd employ strategies when making war.”[5]

In response to [the latter two causes for laxity in Shmiras HaLashon], we have compiled this third volume[6], with the Help of HaShem Yisbarach[7]. This volume gathers together many aggados[8] of our Sages of Blessed Memory, from Shas[9], Midrashim[10], and the Holy Zohar, which speak of the great punishment that one receives in this world and [in The World to] Come because of this bitter sin, may HaShem Protect us [from such punishments. In addition, the third section of this book deals with] the great reward both in this world and in the next world for guarding one’s tongue. For this [reason, concerning the great importance of recognizing the severity of the sin of Lashon HaRa], we have called the first gate in this section “Sha'ar HaZechirah” - “The Gate of Remembrance”. This name is based on the pasuk (Devarim: 24; 9): “Remember what HaShem your G-d did to Miriam….”[11] This section will also include many of the sayings of our Sages of Blessed Memory that arouse and remind one of [the consequences of Lashon HaRa].

Additionally, with the Help of HaShem Yisbarach, we have toiled [in] compiling many strategies and [pieces of] advice from the words of our Sages of Blessed Memory [which instruct the individual of the methods he can employ] to save himself from this snare of the Yetzer [HaRa, when he incites a person to commit a] sin [involving] the tongue. Perhaps, through this [advice included in the second section of this book], each person will make certain to become wise in this area [of the laws of speech, and] strengthen himself over his Yetzer HaRa, and remove all the factors that distract him from [attaining] the holy trait of Shmiras HaLashon. [This advice is collected in the second section of this volume. Due to its edifying nature], we have entitled the second section “Sha'ar HaTevunah” - “The Gate of Understanding”. The [named given to the second section] is based on the [following] pasuk: “And the understanding one shall acquire strategies.”[12](Mishlei: 1; 5) I have also clarified [numerous] other holy qualities in this [second] section. These [qualities discussed in the second section] are also critical to the conduct of the “man who desires life”[13]; through [these qualities], it will be easy for [the individual] to attain the trait of Shmiras HaLashon. [The above] will all be explained in the first two sections of this [second] volume.

Furthermore, we have introduced another section in this volume. This third section, [titled] “The Gate of Torah,” subsumes all of the “gates”, as our Sages of Blessed Memory [have said in maseches Nedarim (41a)]: “If [Torah] is lacking, what has been acquired? And if [Torah] is acquired, what is lacking? ([Based on the above teaching, we learn that Torah] likewise benefits “the man who desires life”. This [follows that which] our sages have said [in maseches Arachin (15b)]: “What is the remedy for the habitual speaker of Lashon HaRa? If [the person] is a Talmid Chacham[14], he should involve himself with Torah….”) The great reward for the person who sanctifies his speech with Torah, the reward for one who raises his children [to involve themselves in] the Torah, as well as numerous other correlated topics are explained in [this third section].

With the Help of HaShem Yisbarach, because this volume discusses many topics that are very essential for the Jewish man to know and fulfill, it is exceedingly dear to me. [Therefore], I have coined a name for it. It shall be called “Shmiras HaLashon” - “Guarding the Tongue”, based on the pasuk [in Mishlei (21, 23)][15]: “One who guards his mouth and his tongue…”.

[1] Yeshayahu – Refers to the Book of Isaiah. Yeshayahu was one of the prophets during the time of the first Beis HaMikdash (Jewish Temple in Jerusalem).

[2] Yetzer HaRa is the “evil inclination”. This entity also serves as the main prosecuting angel (Satan) and the Angel of Death (Malach HaMaves).

[3] The Zohar is a classical mystical interpretation of the Pentateuch consisting of Tanaitic teachings (dating back approximately 2,000 years).

[4] This teaching can be found in
Sha'ar HaZechirah - chapters 2 and 7.

[5] The whole pasuk reads as follows,
(מחשבות בעצה תכון ובתחבלות עשה מלחמה:" (משלי: כ, יח" – “Establish your thoughts with council, and employ strategies when making war:” RaSh"I explains, “If you have come to fight against the Satan, come with strategies of Teshuvah (repentance), Tefillah (prayer), and Tzedakah (charity).

Merkaz HaSefer” printing of sefer Shmiras HaLashon” quotes a different, though similar, pasuk fromMishlei”, which states, “For [you shall] make war for yourself with [the use of] strategies, [and salvation comes with the greatness.]” (Mishlei: 24; 6)

On this pasuk, Metzudas David explains that through mental tricks (strategies), that person can overcome the Yetzer HaRa which entices the person to sin.

[6] “This third volume” refers to this work, sefer
Shmiras HaLashon, published concomitantly with sefer Chofetz Chaim which consists of the first two volumes: Hilchos Lashon HaRa and Hilchos Rechilus.

[7] Literally “The Name, may He be blessed.” This refers to the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe. This is not to say that we are benefiting HaShem by blessing Him. Rather, the term “HaShem Yisbarach” indicates that we pray that there should be an ever greater appreciation among all His creations that He is the source of all blessings.

[8] AggadosAggada, meaning narration, refers to non-legal Talmudic era rabbinic literature. Aggados is the plural form of Aggada.

Shas is the complete order of the Talmud, which stand for Shishah Sedarim – “Six Orders” of the Talmud.

[10] Midrashim
Midrash refers to the Talmudic-era rabbinic literature organized into anthologies of biblical interpretation. Midrashim is the plural form of Midrash.

[11] Miriam is the sister of the Biblical Moses.

[12] The whole pasuk reads: "ישמע חבם ויוסף לקח ונבון תחבלות י קנה".
(Mishlei: 1; 5) This is translated as: “The wise one will hear and will increase reward, and the understanding one will acquire strategies.” On this pasuk, several commentators (MaLBI"M, Metzudas Tzion, and RaLBa"G) explain “strategies” (תחבולות) as referring to the precision of thought required for analytical learning. The “understanding one” (נבון) is more advanced than the “wise one” (חכם), for the wise individual attains his wisdom solely from the knowledge of others, while the understanding one is on a level where he can correctly apply prior knowledge to understand his current studies. Thus, by quoting from this pasuk, the Chofetz Chaim is explaining that the reader will be able to apply knowledge attained through learning “The Gate of Understanding” to diverse, often complicated, life situations, and will know how to respond as a Jew should. This capability to apply one’s learning to life-situations will, G-d willing, provide the individual with soul-saving strategies for the war against Lashon HaRa.

[13] This quote is found in Tehillim (34; 13).

[14] Talmid Chacham is a Torah scholar (lit. “wise student”).

[15] The full verse reads, "שמר פיו ולשונו שמר מצרות נפשו" “One who guards his mouth and tongue guards from troubles of his soul.” (Mishlei: 21; 23) The RaLBa"G explains that the sin of speaking forbidden words brings troubles upon the individual.

No comments: