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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, November 22, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon ג כּסלו - Kislev 3 - Sixty-Third Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[In addition to everything else] the Satan [does, he] also provokes those who are accustomed to strife, as is [taught] in [maseches] Gittin (52a): “There were these two individuals who the Satan would provoke, for at twilight of every erev Shabbos, they would quarrel with one another. [To stop the quarrel], Rabbi Meir went there and delayed them [from quarreling on] three erev Shabboses [in a row], until they made peace. [Whereupon], it was heard that [the Satan] was saying, “Woe, for Rabbi Meir took that man, [i.e. the Satan], out of his house.”

[The following teaching] is brought in Yalkut Korach[1]: “Come and take note concerning the extent of [damage] caused by quarrels. [The above is the case, as] the acronym of
מחלוקת – MaCHLoKeT – quarrel, [spelled without] the [letter] ו – vav, [stands for]: מהMakkah – blow, חרון – Charon – anger, לקוי – Likui – affliction, קללה – Kilalah – curse, תּכלית – Tachlis – complete [destruction].”[2] [The aforementioned] means that the quarrel brings destruction to the world. [In addition], in accordance with the greatness of the stature of the instigator of the quarrel, so will his punishment be [proportionally] great. [This follows] that which is [taught] in Tanna D’vei Eliyahu (Eliyahu Rabbah), chapter 18[3]. Therefore, in order to teach us [concerning] the greatness of [the] sin [of some of those involved in Korach’s rebellion, the following] is written in Parshas Korach [in reference to these individuals], “…princes of the assembly, those who are called at the appointed times…” (Bamidbar: 16; 2)

Our Sages of Blessed Memory have said[4]: “In three instances, The Holy One, Blessed is He, [suspended judgment for the sin of idolatry until]
there was strife, [once strife was introduced into society, HaShem] did not [suspend punishment for the sin of idolatry]. The first [instance occurred] in the days of the generation of Enosh. [In the generation of Enosh] they began to worship idols, as it says, “…then they began to profane the Name of G-d.[5]” (Bereishis: 4; 26) Since there were [people] in their midst who looted and robbed from one another, [HaShem] did not forgive them, as it says, “…for the earth has been filled of robbery [from before them, and I shall destroy [them with] the land.]”[6] (Bereishis: 6; 13) [The] second [instance was] in the generation of the Desert, when Israel came to [be involved in] the incident [involving the idolatrous sin of the golden] calf, The Holy One, Blessed is He, pardoned them[7]. However, when [Israel] would come to quarrel, The Holy One, Blessed is He, did not pardon them, for in every place that you find “וילינו” – “and they complained”, [relating to] a quarrel, you find a great plague.[8] From where do we know this [to be the case]? [We know of this] from the quarrel of Korach. [The] third [instance involved] the idol of Michah. Since [the people] maintained peace in their midst, [HaShem] gave them an extended period of time [of grace before punishing them], as it says, “And the children of Don set up the idol, and Yihonasan the son of Gershom the son of Minashe, he and his sons were priests for the tribe of Don until the day of the exile of the Land.” (Shoftim: 18; 30)

However, once the tribes [of Israel] separated from the tribes of Yihuda and Binaymin, and there was not peace in their midst, these [tribes of the Kingdom of Israel and of the Kingdom of Yihuda] brought each other trouble. When the [tribes belonging to the Kingdom of Israel] would sin, The Holy One, Blessed is He, would bring these [tribes] to Him, and He would bring calamity to them, as it says, “And Aviyah and his nation inflicted a devastating blow, and they caused five-hundred-thousand corpses to fall from the young men of Israel.”[9] (Divrei HaYomim II: 13; 17) [Similarly], when the tribes of Yihuda and Binyamin sinned, the ten tribes came and inflicted calamity upon them, as it says, “And Pekach killed… one-hundred-and-twenty-thousand from Yihuda on one day…”[10] (Divrei HaYomim II: 28; 6)
From [these aforementioned catastrophes], we learn that the instigators of quarrels become tools of destruction for one another.

[1] Note from Hebrew
Kol HaLashon printing: This teaching is found in Yalkut Shimoni, Bamidbar, Parshas Korach 17; 751 [and] in Bamidbar Rabbah 18; 12.

[2] This teaching precisely resembles the teaching brought in Bamidbar Rabbah. In Bamidbar Rabbah, there is another word also offered as an acronym for the last letter in MaCHLoKeT, the ת, which could also stand for תועבה – Toeivah – abomination. In Yalkut Shimoni, instead of Likui, the similar word לוקין – Lokin – to be stricken, is written, and instead of Charon – anger, the word חרם – Cherem – destruction, is used.

The teaching in both Yalkut Shimoni and Bamidbar Rabbah note that the term
תכלית is the beginning of the phrase תכלית כלי-ה מביא לעולם, where the “tav” of MaCHLoKeT stands for “[quarrels] bring complete destruction to the world”. “Tachlis” means “complete”.

[3] The teaching taken from the eighteenth chapter of Tanna D’vei Eliyahu (18; 88), states as follows:

“Blessed is [HaShem’s] Presence, Blessed is He, for there is no favoritism before Him. Just as He conferred honor to Achitofel and called him
יועץ – “yoeitz” – “advisor”, as it says, and the council of Achitofel, which he advised in those day is like one who would ask the matter of G-d, [so was the advice of Achitofel both for David and for Avshalom.]” (Shmuel II: 16; 23) Just as He conferred honor to Doeg the Edomite, and called him גבּוֹר – “gibor” – “strong [one]”, as it says, “[For] what [reason] does the strong one praise himself with evil?…” (Tehillim: 52; 3) Similarly, in accordance with the greatness of their honor, so too is the greatness of their suffering. Therefore, it is subsequently [written], “Your tongue thinks of destruction, as a sharpened blade, it performs deceit… G-d will also cut you off forever, He will bring you down and drag you from the tent, and your root [will be removed] from the Land of the Living, Selah…” (Tehillim: 52; 4, 7) “G-d will also cut you off forever” – [This applies to being cut off from living] in this world, [from living] in the days of the son of David (Mashiach ben David), and [from living] in The World to Come. “He will bring you down and drag you from the tent” – [“Tent” refers to] the Beis Midrash. Our Sages of Blessed Memory have [also] said, that such is what David said, ‘Even their utterances shall not be remembered in the Beis Midrash.’ “And your root from the Land of the Living, Selah.” – This is The World to Come, for the righteous live and exist in it for eternity.”

We learn of the great punishment of Achitofel and Doeg in the mishna of Perek Chelek in
maseches Sanhedrin (90a). Of the four Jewish non-royal personalities, mentioned in TaNa"Ch, regarding whom the mishna teaches do not receive a portion in The World to Come, Doeg and Achitofel are listed as two of those four individuals.

[4] Note from
Kol HaLashon” printing: This teaching is brought in sefer Ma’alos HaMiddos, Ma’alas HaShalom – pg. 327 in the Eshkol printing.

[5] RaSh”I, quoting from Bamidbar Rabbah (23; 7), explains the pasuk as follows:

The people called HaShem’s Name with reference to people and idols, to make them [into forms of] idolatry and call them “god”.

[6] The translation of this pasuk, with the added bracket
...and I shall destroy them [with the Land]. follows RaSh"I's commentary.

In Parshas Noach (Bereishis: 6; 11 - 12) we read of the great corruptness of the generation of the flood. The pesukim state as follows:

And the land was corrupted before G-d and the land was filled with robbery. And G-d saw the land and it was corrupted, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the land.

RaSh"I comments on these pesukim that society became sexually promiscuous and was involved in idolatry.

The next pasuk, RaSh"I
explains to us (quoting maseches Sanhedrin, 108a), informs us that the punishment against this very sinful generation was only sealed as a result of the robbery that was prevalent in their midst.

The pasuk states,
And G-d said to Noach, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me, because the Land has become full of robbery from before them, and behold, I shall destroy [them with] the Land. (Bereishis: 6; 13)

According to the Sforno, everyone was committing robbery against others in society. Sifsei Chachamim, quoting the MaHaRI"L, explains that the sin of robbery was unique as it was a sin that is between one person and his fellow, while the other sins performed were between man and G-d. The RaMBa"N explains that the sin of robbery was the determining factor in HaShem initiating the destruction of the generation of the flood, for it is a sin that is an evil to Heaven (a sin between man and G-d) and between one person and his fellow.

Since peace was lacking among the generation of the flood because of societal-wide involvement in robbery, each person robbing to
get back at the other who robbed him, there was clearly a state of strife that had thoroughly infiltrated society to such an extent that the decree for the generation's destruction was sealed.

[7] If one looks at the pasuk that follows the account of the sin of the golden-calf, we read,
And HaShem smote the nation on account of their making the calf which Aharon made. (Shmos: 32; 35) Clearly, there was some punishment that came about as a result of the sin of the golden-calf. However, the punishment at that time was very limited compared to the complete punishment. In fact, the sin of the golden-calf was so severe that HaShem told Moshe that He was prepared to wipe out the Israelites and make Moshe the progenitor of the future Israelites, in their place. (Shmos: 32; 10) After Moshe prayed to HaShem to spare the Israelites (32; 11 - 13), HaShem relented and spared them from destruction. (32; 14) Therefore, when we learn that the Israelites were pardoned for the sin of the golden-calf, they were pardoned from the immediate destruction intended for them.

[8] Shortly after the Torah records the sin of the golden-calf, we read of the future punishment for this sin of idolatry. The pasuk states,
...and on the day of visitation [of punishment], and I shall visit their sin upon them. (Shmos: 32; 34) RaSh"I, quoting from maseches Sanhedrin (102a), points out that when HaShem brings punishment upon the Jewish People for their sins, there is always some punishment mixed in from the sin of the golden-calf.

Sforno notes that HaShem visits punishment upon the Jewish People when they continue to sin, such as was the case with the sin of the ten spies, where HaShem visited punishment upon them for the sin of the golden-calf, as well.

Based on the above, had the Jewish People completely ceased from sinning, they would not have been punished in proportion to the greatness of the sin of the golden-calf. However, punishment for future sins of the Jewish People, to a certain degree, include punishment for the sin of the golden-calf.

The RaMBa"N, on the next pasuk, points out that the number of people that died in the plague that immediately followed the sin of the golden-calf is not listed, though concerning a numbers of other sins, the number of those that died in the plagues are listed. (Shmos: 32; 35) RaMBa"N suggests that perhaps those who sinned with the golden-calf were not punished immediately, rather their punishment was postponed and they died earlier than they would have had they not involved themselves in the sin of the golden-calf.

[9] This battle is recorded in the thirteenth chapter of sefer
Divrei HaYomim II. The battle was between the Kingdom of Israel under King Yirav’am and the Kingdom of Yihuda under King Aviahu. The army of the Kingdom of Israel outnumbered the army of the Kingdom of Yihuda by 800,000 men to 400,000 men. The RaLBa”G explains that the pasuk (Divrei HaYomim II:13; 3) notes that, in addition to the smaller army, another physical disadvantage that the army of Yihuda had with respect to the army of Israel, was that the army of Israel had 800,000 choice men, who were more war-ready. The disadvantages that Aviahu’s army faced only highlight the miracle that HaShem performed for the army of Yihuda, leading to a rout of Israel’s army with the death of 500,000 of their soldiers.

Chapter thirteen of sefer
Divrei HaYomim II, includes a passage where the King of Yihuda, Aviahu, gets up to address Yirav’am King of Israel and his army. (13; 4 – 12) Aviahu relates that HaShem promised that the Kingship of Israel would always remain with the House of David. Aviahu further contrasts the idolatrous practices of the people of the Kingdom of Israel with the people of the Kingdom of Yihuda who continue to serve HaShem. Aviahu tries to discourage the Kingdom of Israel from pursuing war with the Kingdom of Yihuda, by stating, “…Do not fight against HaShem, The G-d of your forefathers, for you shall not be successful.” (Divrei HaYomim II: 13; 12) However, instead of heeding the words of Aviahu, Yirav’am, trusting in his physically superior army, prepares an ambush behind the army of Yihuda, effectively surrounding the army of Yihuda. Seeing that they were surrounded by the army of Israel, the army of Yihuda cried out to HaShem to help them win the war. During that time, the Kohanim who were at the head of the army of Yihuda blew on the trumpets and the man of Yihuda blew on the horn. “…And it was when the man of Yihuda blew [on the horn], and G-d struck Yirav’am and all of Israel before Aviah and Yihuda.” (Divrei HaYomim II: 13; 15)

Mitzudas David explains that the man of Yihuda blew the horn because the Kingdom of Yihuda was confident that HaShem would make them victorious in the war against the Kingdom of Israel.

The MaLBi”M explains (13; 12) that there were three “things” that the Kingdom of Yihuda had at the head of their army: 1) G-d, 2) The Kohanim who serve in the Beis HaMikdash, and 3) The trumpets that are blown at the time of the Avodah (Service) in the Beis HaMikdash. With these three “things” at the head of their army, the Kingdom of Israel was guaranteed to lose the war.

[10] In chapter twenty-eight of
Divrei HaYomim II, we find that Achaz assumed the kingship of Yihuda. Achaz followed the “lead” of many of the Kings of the Kingdom of Israel and was involved in idolatry. (28; 1 – 4) Almost immediately thereafter, we read of the consequences of these idolatrous practices on the people of Yihuda, “And Pekach the son of Rimalyahu killed one-hundred-and-twenty-thousand [people] of Yihuda on one day, all of them men of war, [this happened] when they abandoned The G-d of their forefathers.” (Divrei HaYomim II: 28; 6)

The Chofetz Chaim is coming to tell us that the punishment for such major sins as idolatry is pushed off until the sin of strife is found amongst the Jewish People. Once the sin of strife exists, HaShem punishes for such sins as idolatry. Similarly, we find that Achav, the King of Israel, was victorious in war even though his generation served idolatry, since Lashon HaRa was not in their midst. This teaching is found in the Yiruhshalmi
(Peah: chapter 1, halacha 1) and in Midrash Shocher Tov (Tehillim: 7; 8). Of course, the sin of Lashon HaRa and strife are very much related to one another, for Lashon HaRa is very prevalent where there is strife and Lashon HaRa often brings about discord and enmity. Hence, it is clear that the generations who practiced idolatry were not punished unless the sin of Lashon HaRa or strife was found in their midst, as well.

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