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, December 06, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon י"ז כּסלו - Kislev 17 - Seventy-Seventh Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Furthermore, [in respect to the attribute of silence], our Sages of Blessed Memory were very precise in their holy language, [by stating the phrase] “in this world”, [in context of their discussion of the importance of the attribute of silence. This comes to] inform us that a person should not think to himself, “I have already been accustomed in this “trait of silence” for a number of years, more than [the amount of time it takes for] a craftsman [to become sufficiently experienced] in his trade. Therefore, it is not necessary for me to [be so attentive to] this matter!” With respect to this [type of sentiment], our Sages of Blessed Memory have taught us, that [such a sentiment as the one expressed above], is not true. Rather, one should accustom himself [in this trait of silence] all of the days of his life, to make his nature similar to [the nature] of a mute. [This follows that which] the GR”A wrote in his holy letter, “Alim L’Tirufah”, [as follows]: “Until the day of his death, a person should afflict himself, [though] not with fasts and self-affliction, rather with bridling his mouth and his desires, and this is the [preferable form of] Tishuvah, and this is the entire fruit [of his reward] in The World to Come, as is written [in Mishlei], “For a mitzvah is a candle…”, however “…and the path of life are the rebukes of musar.[1]” (Mishlei: 6; 23) This [bridling of the mouth] is more [effective] than all of the fasts and self-afflictions in the world…[2] The pasuk [in Tehillim] states, “Who is the man who desires life, [who] loves days…” (Tehillim: 34; 13), and with this [bridling of his speech], he will be atoned for all sin, and will be saved from the nethermost [parts] of sh’ole. [This follows that] which is written [in Mishlei], “One who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards from troubles of his soul.” (Mishlei: 21; 23), “Death and life are in the hands of the tongue.” (Mishlei: 18; 21) Woe to the one who kills himself for the sake [of involvement in] one [forbidden] word. “...And what benefit is there for the habitual speaker [of Lashon HaRa].”” (Koheles: 10; 11)

[1] The MaLBI”M comments on the end of this verse, as follows:

Though the mitzvah is the candle that lights the path in a person’s life, if a person does not walk on “the path of life”, the light of the candle will not be beneficial at all. That which leads a person on “the path of life” is the intellectual moral rebuke, for by accepting this rebuke, and fear HaShem, he will walk on “the path of life”. By accepting this rebuke and fear of HaShem, he will benefit from the candle of the mitzvah and the light of the Torah to guard him from the “snares” and the “thorns” on the “path of life”, as is written, “Fear of HaShem is the beginning of knowledge…”” (Mishlei: 1; 7)

Perhaps the GR”A is comparing a fast from food to the light of a candle which signifies a mitzvah and compares the bridling of his mouth and of his [negative] desires to “the rebukes of musar (moral rebuke)” which is comparable to “the path of life” which refers to the life that one leads by walking in the way of the Torah. Hence, while a “mitzvah”, such as a fast from food, is very important, and is the “candle” which lights up “the path of life”, the “candle” – “fast from food” is useless if one is not leading a life of Torah by traveling down the “path of life”. Becoming positively affected through moral rebuke and fear of HaShem, can be accomplished through a “fast from speech” and bridling of negative desires. Thus, a fast from speech and bridling of one’s negative desires can benefit the individual far more than a physical fast from food and self-affliction.

[2] [Chofetz Chaim’s note: “I have seen a similar [teaching] in seferRosh HaGivah” (pg. 8b, words beginning “Shema bini”), [where we learn as follows], “When a person wants to accept a fast upon himself as a free-will offering, it is preferable to accept upon himself a “fast” from speech, than to accept upon himself [a fast] from eating. For, [as a result of this “fast” from speech], he will not be harmed, [both] in his body [and] in his soul, and he will not become weakened through this “fast” [from speech].”]

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