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, December 04, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon ט"ו כּסלו - Kislev 15 - Seventy-Fifth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[Chofetz Chaim’s note: Incidentally, we shall explain the end of the above [teaching regarding the importance of the attribute of silence. With respect to this teaching, we learn the following in the gemara]: Perhaps [this teaching of the importance of the attribute of silence] also applies to words of Torah? [In answer to this query], the pasuk states, “…you shall speak [words of] righteousness”. Perhaps a person is permitted to become haughty [through the words of Torah that he speaks]? The pasuk says, in response, “…they shall judge people justly”. [The query about whether one must remain silent even when it comes to words of Torah] seems surprising, for from where would one derive [the assertion] to say that one should be silent [from speaking] words of Torah? If that is the case, [that one must be silent and refrain from speaking words of Torah], why was [the ability of] speech created in the person, unless to speak words of the Torah of HaShem and [speak] of [HaShem] Yisbarach’s loftiness? In addition, the end of the teaching [in the gemara in maseches Chullin] is perplexing, [when it states], “perhaps he is permitted to become haughty”, for what does [haughtiness] specifically have to do with [acting like] a mute? It appears [that the answer to the above questions] is that it is known that in Torah learning, there are two [disparate] types [of learning]: 1) [To learn] by himself, [or] 2) to learn [Torah] in a group with others. Within each of these [types of Torah learning], there is an advantage as well as [something which is] lacking: If one learns [Torah] by himself, there is an advantage, for he will be unable to come to speak anything which is forbidden, for there is no one with him with whom to converse. However, there [is something which is] lacking, [that being, that by learning alone, the Torah learning] will not be explained well. If one learns [Torah] with others, there is a [potential] detriment, for by joining with other’s, one comes, at times, to [speak] idle chatter, Lashon HaRa, and [words of] mockery. However, in opposition [to this potential detriment], there is a great advantage, for by [learning Torah with others], the learning is explained well. [The above] is the intended teaching of the gemara [on the query], “Perhaps [silence applies] even [to] words of Torah.” Meaning: [This question does] not [suggest] that he shouldn’t speak Torah at all, rather, [the question is asking whether] he should employ the attribute of silence, it being extra caution, even for words of Torah. For example, [this “added caution” would mean] that he does not speak with people at all, even [refraining from speaking] words of Torah [with others], out of fear that perhaps [this Torah learning] may eventually lead to forbidden speech, and [because of this “added caution”], he will only learn [Torah] by himself. Similarly, [one might make the same argument with regards to] the other types of mitzvos that come about through speech, such as Tefillah, and similar [types of mitzvos, arguing that] he should never join together with any person [while performing the given mitzvah], in order to not come to [involve himself in] forbidden speech. On this [query regarding whether one should remain silent, even to refrain from words of Torah], they answer [in the gemara, as follows]: The pasuk states, “You shall speak righteousness”, [in the plural], and it does not write “he will speak righteousness”, in the singular, [in a manner] consistent [with the way the pasuk] had opened in the beginning, [by stating], “אלם” – “a mute” – in the singular. [The plural form of the phrase “You shall speak righteousness”] comes to teach us that one should speak [words of] righteousness in a group of people. [This follows that which] our Sages of Blessed Memory have said, [in maseches Berachos (63b)]: “A sword upon those who are alone – A sword upon the enemies of the Torah scholars[1], who are each involved in Torah [learning] on their own, not only that , but they grow dull…[2]” Similarly, with regards to prayer, it is a mitzvah to pray with the congregation, as it says in Mishlei]: “And in the masses of the nation is the glory of The King”. (Mishlei: 14; 28) If so, according to this, the complete person must act in two opposite [ways], they being, [as follows]: In matters of this world, he should [act] like a mute, and not speak even that which is permitted, unless it is something which is necessary; and with regards to Torah [learning] and [performance of] mitzvos, he should speak as much as he possibly can, [in order] to learn with the masses, and to speak words of holiness with them. However, [even when involving himself in Torah learning], he should stand on guard, so as not to speak any forbidden speech with them. The gemara concludes [with the following teaching]: “Perhaps [he is permitted] to be haughty [when involved in Torah learning]?” [This teaching refers to the time] when he sees the rest of the people [treating] their speech as if it is completely ownerless, and [noticing that] they dirty their mouths with Lashon HaRa and [words of], mockery and the other types of forbidden speech. [Upon seeing this forbidden speech being touted around by others in the group, the individual who is careful with his speech] will consider them to be [among the group of] those who are completely evil, and [consider] himself [to be] completely righteous. [Therefore], the pasuk states, “he shall judge people justly”, [to teach us] that [one] must judge [these individuals] justly and as innocently [going about speaking the forbidden words], for [he should think] that they do not know what Lashon HaRa is and [that] they also do not know of the severity of the sin that exists [when one involves himself] with forbidden types of speech].

[1] “The enemies of Torah scholars” in our context refers to the “Torah scholars”. When the gemara states something negative about the Jewish People or Torah scholars, for example, it will write in “lashon sagi nahor” – “language of a multitude of light”. This phrase is often used when it refers to something negative happening to the Jewish People or Torah scholars. Such as “if not for… the “enemies of Israel would be liable to be destroyed”. As the gemara does not want to say such a negative thing directly in reference to Israel, and rather euphemistically refers to “Israel” as “the enemies of Israel”. In our context, the gemara states “a sword upon the enemies of the Torah scholars”, euphemistically referring to Torah scholars.

[2] The full passage in the gemara (Berachos, 63b), is found below:

The passage discusses the pasuk (Divarim: 27; 9), “…pay attention and listen Israel, today you have become a nation to HaShem, your G-d.”

On the word “הסכּת” – “haskeis” – “pay attention”, the gemara states, ““Haskeis”: Make groups and involve yourselves in Torah [study], for the Torah is only acquired in groups [who study Torah]. This follows [that which] Rabbi Yosi [said] in the name of Rabbi Chaninah. For Rabbi Yosi said in the name of Rabbi Chaninah, what is the meaning of that which is written [in sefer Yirmiyahu], “A sword to the badim and they shall be made foolish…” (Yirmiyahu: 50; 36) – A sword upon the enemies of the Torah scholars who each sit alone (bad b’vad) and involve themselves in Torah study. Not only [is this the case], but they [also] grow dull. It is written over here [in the pasuk quoted from Yirmiyahu], “v’noalu” – “and they shall be made foolish”, and it is written over here [in Bamidbar (12; 11)], “asher noalnu” – “that we have been foolish” [which Onkelos translates as “we have grown dull”]. Not only [do these Torah scholars grow dull], but they [also] sin, as it says, [immediately afterwards in the same pasuk], “and that we have sinned”. If you want, I could say that [the source for these Torah scholars coming to sin can be found] here [in sefer Yishayahu (19; 13)], “The ministers of Tzoan have grown dull…”, [thus causing Egypt to stray and suffer as a result].”

Note: RaSh”I notes on the word “הסכּת” – “haskeis”, that “has” means “make”. The Hebrew word “כּת” means “group”. Therefore, according to RaSh”I’s rendering, in the context of our gemara, “הסכּת” means “make groups [of Torah learning]”.

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