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

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon ו חשון - Cheshvan 6 - Thirty-Sixth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Chapter 8

[In this Chapter we] shall Explain [Concerning] the Great Punishment in this World [for One Who Speaks Lashon HaRa]

[By speaking Lashon HaRa, in addition to all of the other negative consequences, one] also detracts from his level as part of the human species, to the point that he is inferior to the dog. [This follows that which our Sages of Blessed Memory have] said in [maseches] Pesachim (118a)[1]: “Anyone who speaks slander… it is fitting to throw him to the dogs”, as it says, “Do not accept a false report,” - “lo sisa”, (Shmos: 23; 1) and it is read as “Do not cause others [to bear a false report]” – “lo sasi[2]. [This verse that forbids accepting a false report] is juxtaposed with [the phrase] “you shall send him to the dog”. The reason [that the person who speaks Lashon HaRa is inferior to the dog] is obvious. [This follows] that which the Maharal of Prague wrote [in the context of the speaker of Lashon HaRa and the dog]: For the dogs would restrain themselves from barking when necessary, as it is written [in Shmos (11; 7)] “And for all of the Children of Israel, no dog barked…” [However, how can] the [the person to whom] HaShem granted understanding and knowledge, [claim to be] unable to restrain his [evil] inclination from this [sin of Lashon HaRa]? Therefore, [in light of the above, we can understand how the speaker of Lashon HaRa] is inferior to [the dog].

Furthermore, [the following teaching is] brought in [maseches] Arachin (15b): “Rav Chisda said, all [those] who speak Lashon HaRa, it is fitting to stone him. It is written over here [in Tehillim (101; 5)] “[One who slanders his fellow secretly], I shall cut him off…” [while] it is written over there [in Eichah (3; 53)] “They have cut off my life in a pit and have thrown a rock at me.”[3]

Chofetz Chaim’s note: Take note, my brother, that “The balance and the scale of justice belong to HaShem, [his action [are as] all of the stones in a pouch.”] (Mishlei: 16; 11)[4] and all of the words of our Sages of Blessed Memory are living and continue to exist. For in [sefer] Shmuel II, (16; 4), immediately following the incident where [King] David answered Tziva: “Behold, all that belongs to Mifiboshes [is now] yours”[5] , it is written [in Shmuel II (16; 5)]: “And King David came until Bachurim, and behold, a man was coming out [to meet David] from the family [of the House of Shaul and his name was Shimi ben Gera, he was going out and cursing [David]. From the phrase “and behold”, it is implicit that this [incident involving Shimi cursing David], relates to [the pasuk] immediately beforehand [when David accepted the lies of Tziva, thereby unjustly punishing Mifiboshes]. However, who is capable of speaking of the great holiness of our master David, Alav HaShalom, for he accepted the Judgment of Heaven upon himself and did not permit Avishai ben Tziruyah to touch Shimi ben Gera[6] and [David subsequently] said (16; 10) “HaShem told him to curse”. Though [David] did not yet himself suppose that the punishment [of Shimi’s curses] was due to this [acceptance of Lashon HaRa against Mifiboshes, he still knew that the punishment came to him through Divine Providence]. For if this was not the case [and King David would have realized that the punishment of Shimi’s curses was as a result of accepting the Lashon HaRa of Tziva, David] would not have said in the end “you and Tziva shall split the field”[7] (Shmuel II: 19; 30)[8]. Nevertheless, [David] suffered all of the affronts from Shimi who threw stones at him, cursed him, and threw dirt at him, as is written in the [pisukim] (Shmuel II: 16; 5- 8, 13). [David concluded that] all [of his suffering at the hands of Shimi] was dependent on the Providence of HaShem Yisbarach.

[1] The full text in the gemara (Pesachim, 118a), reads as follows:

“Rav Sheishes said in the name of Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah: All those who speak Lashon HaRa and all those who accept Lashon HaRa [as true] and all those who testify falsely against their fellow, it is fitting to throw him to the dogs, as it says, “you shall throw him to the dog” and it is subsequently written “Do not bear a false rumor” and it is read as “Do not cause another to bear a false rumor”.

[2] According to the RaShBa”M we do not have the text “lo sasi” - “Do not cause others [to bear a false report]”. Possibly in the context of the above statement – “Do not cause others to bear a false report” – refers to one who accepts the Lashon HaRa as true is also considered as having committed a great sin and if he would not repent, he would be held liable.

[3] Both verses mention “cutting off” "אותו אצמית" – “him I shall cut off” and "צמתו בבור חיי" – “they have cut my life off in a pit”. As both verses share that which is common – “cutting off”, we can apply that which we have learned from one verse to apply it to another verse (hekeish). In the verse from Eichah it mentions an individual being stoned, while the verse from Tehillim mentions the punishment of the slanderer. We can therefore apply the pasuk from Eichah to teach that a slanderer is fitting to be stoned.

[4] The MaLBI”M notes that HaShem has the scale to weigh the ways of man and his actions and the balance to direct them to the proper path. He also has a balance to weigh the actions of people and to pay them with reward or punishment based on one’s behavior. The “stones in a pouch” refer to all of one’s free-will actions, for HaShem pays a person back through His actions and the way of nature precisely in relation to the good or bad deeds that one does. This follows that which we learn in the second paragraph of the Sh'ma where we read that if one properly follows the ways of the Torah, they will be rewarded through the means of nature, by getting rain in the proper time. In contrast, we are told (in the same paragraph) of the punishment of a lack of rain if one does not follow the ways of The Torah, Heaven Forbid (chas v’shalom).

In the context of the above teaching of the Chofetz Chaim, we learn that David is punished with the curses from Shimi almost immediately after accepting the Lashon HaRa from Tziva. In this situation, we clearly see how the acceptance of Lashon HaRa (according to some Amoraim) by David led to his subsequent punishment.

[5] The Chofetz Chaim points out: “This statement [of David’s] is considered acceptance of Lashon HaRa according to the opinions of some Amoraim in maseches Shabbos (56a).”

The gemara in Shabbos (56a) brings a dispute between the Amoraim Rav and Shmuel. Rav holds that King David did accept the slander spoken by Tziva, whereas Shmuel holds that David saw that due to Mifiboshes’ unkempt state, it appeared that Mifiboshes was saddened by David’s return to Jerusalem, whereas, in reality, Mifiboshes was in such an unkempt state because of his mourning for David while David was in exile.

[6] Yoav said to David that he would behead Shimi for cursing king David.

[7] The RaDa”K on this verse notes that when King David said, “you and Tziva shall split the field”, David was referring to Mifiboshes’ entire portion of land that he owned. RaDa”K then quotes Rav Yehuda in the name of Rav: “When David said, “you and Tziva shall split the field”, a Heavenly Voice came forth and proclaimed, ‘Yiravi’am and Richavi’am shall split the kingdom.’ (Richavi’am was the grandson of David who lost rulership over ten of the twelve tribes to Yiravi’am – the ten tribes became the “Kingdom of Israel” and the two tribes became the “Kingdom of Yehuda”.) [Rav Yehuda further quoted Rav as stating, “Had David not accepted Lashon HaRa, David’s Kingdom would not have been split, the Jews would not have come to worship idols, and we would not have [ever] been exiled from the Land of Israel.] This great punishment involving the loss of most of the kingdom (as well as the other negative consequences, according to Rav), came as a result of David’s acceptance of Tziva’s Motzi Shem Ra against Mifiboshes. Even when Mifiboshes justified himself before David, explaining what really happened, David did not accept that justification. David saw that Mifiboshes was unkempt and therefore felt that it wasn’t clear that Mifiboshes was correct when he recounted what truly occurred, in contrast to the words of Tziva. (See the MaHaRSH”A on this gemara)

However, according to MaLBI”M, David could not retract his previous command for Tziva to receive Mifiboshes’ property though David recognized that Tziva had spoken slander against Mifiboshes. Therefore, David clarified that the two should split the field

[8] Quick summary of the incident involving David, Mifiboshes, and Tziva:

Tziva, the servant of Mifiboshes, came to David alone, bringing with him provisions for David and his men as they returned to Jerusalem. (Shmuel II: 16; 1 – 2) David, surprised that Mifiboshes did not join Tziva, inquired of Tziva as to why Mifiboshes did not come to greet him. Tziva then answered King David with the following lie: “…Behold [Mifiboshes] dwells in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘today the House of Israel will return
the Kingdom of my father to me [i.e. the kingdom will be returned to Shaul, Mifiboshes' grandfather].” (16; 3) Tziva falsely claimed that Mifiboshes was hoping that Avshalom would kill his father, David, in an attempt to assume the kingship. The Israelites would then kill Avshalom, judging him as a rebellious son (ben sorer u’moreh), and thereby the kingship would return to Shaul’s family. Of course, Mifiboshes, immediately upon greeting David, explained why he did not join Tziva to greet David: “[Mifiboshes] said, ‘My master the king, my servant [Tziva] mislead me, for your servant [Mifiboshes] said [to Tziva], ‘Harness the donkey for me and I shall ride on it and I shall go to [greet] the king, for your servant [Mifiboshes] is lame. And [Tziva] spoke gossip about your servant [Mifiboshes] to my master the king…” (Shmuel II: 19; 27 – 28) Metzudas David explains that Mifiboshes told King David that Tziva mislead him by taking the donkey, instead of helping him onto the donkey. Hence, Tziva set up a situation where it appeared as if Mifiboshes wronged David, thereby getting David to reward Tziva at Mifiboshes’ expense.

No comments: