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 20, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon ל כּסלו - Kislev 30 - Ninetieth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

This mitzvah of loving one’s fellow [by warning them to avoid a given action which may bring them shame], also applies prior to the [individual performing the] incident so as to avoid his fellow coming to [suffer] disgrace. Just as [would be the case] if he were to marry off his son in another city, or [if] he himself is coming to live in another place, he being unaware of the manner and the behavior of that place, he would wander in his thoughts to try [to] find a trusted friend, who will inform him of the [acceptable] behavior of [the] place [where he will find himself. This individual whom he desires to befriend], if he were to observe that he is behaving improperly in a given matter, [this friend] will inform him of this [unacceptable behavior] discreetly, so that he, [as a newcomer], will [soon] know of [those actions and behaviors] which he should be careful [to avoid], and he will thereby not be despised by the people of the city. So too, in precisely such a manner [that he wishes another will act in relation to him, as mentioned above], he must act with [reference to] his fellow. That is, if he sees that [his fellow] will stumble in a given matter, which will prove dishonorable to him, even if [this matter in which it appears he will stumble does not involve transgressing]] a prohibition, [this individual who is aware of the unacceptability of such behavior], is obligated to [warn the person who is about to commit the given act], so that [this individual] will not be despised as a result of this [action that is deemed inappropriate]. (In a similar vein, we [learn] in [maseches] Horayos (13b), of [an incident involving Rabbi Ya’akov ben Karshi [and] Rabban Shimon ben Gamiliel, see over there [in the gemara][1]. Furthermore, we [learn] in [maseches] Sanhedrin (11a) of a number of Tannayim[2], who drew scorn upon themselves, in order to remove this [scorn] from [coming] upon another [person].[3]) [Just as one is obligated to warn his fellow to avoid an action merely deemed inappropriate by others], how much more so is one required to confidentially inform his fellow to avoid a given action if he notices that the [other] person is doing that which is improper according to halacha. [In such a situation, this person is also required] to rebuke [the one committing the given transgression], with respect to [the unacceptability of] this matter [with which he is involved], so that [the given individual] will not fall into evil in this [world] and in [The World to] Come, [as a result of his sin. By doing so, the individual that encourages and exhorts his fellow to avoid committing the sin], will thereby fulfill the positive commandment of [giving] rebuke, as well as the mitzvah of “and you shall love your fellow as [you love] yourself”, (Vayikra: 19; 18) as mentioned earlier.

[As a result of performing the aforementioned actions, encouraging his fellow to remove himself from improper behavior, that person causes] great satisfaction to come to The Creator, Yisbarach, for [this person brought] rectification [to] His son [encouraging him] to [act in the] service [of HaShem]. However, if, Heaven Forbid, he will not do [the above and not discreetly inform his fellow of a wrongful action that should be avoided], and will [rather] go and scorn [this person before others] because of [the wrongful action he undertook], what [benefit] results to The Creator, Yisbarach, [for unnecessarily shaming his fellow]?

[1] This gemara in maseches Horayos discusses an incident where Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, the President of the Sanhedrin, changed the practice of everyone present standing in honor of the Deputy and the Scholar of the Sanhedrin. On the day that the Deputy, Rabbi Nossan, and the Scholar, Rabbi Meir, were not present at the Sanhedrin, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel changed the rule, requiring fewer people to stand in honor of the Deputy, and even fewer to stand for the Scholar. Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Nossan, as a result of having their honor diminished, planned to have Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel removed from his position as President of the Sanhedrin, while Rabbi Nossan and Rabbi Meir would be promoted to the positions of President and Deputy of the Sanhedrin, respectively. The plan was that on the next day, they would ask Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel to teach the tractate Uktzin before those present. Knowing that Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel was unfamiliar with that tractate, the people present would want him to be replaced by a President who had (what at least would seem to be) a more greatly encompassing knowledge of the Torah. Upon hearing of this plan, Rabbi Ya’akov ben Karshi indicated to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel that he must learn maseches Uktzin that night, for he would be asked to teach that tractate the next day. Rabbi Ya’akov’s intention in relaying this information was to avoid the embarrassment that Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel would suffer if he would publicly be asked to teach that tractate when unfamiliar with its contents.

[2] "Tannayim" refer to the Torah scholar of the period of the Mishna.

[3] The gemara in maseches Sanhedrin (11a), records a number of incidents where Tannayim, and others, took special measures to avoid embarrassment coming to their fellow. The gemara states as follows:

“There was an incident involving Rabban Gamliel, who said, get seven people to arise early to come to the attic [in order to halachically determine whether a month should be added to make the year into a leap year]. He arose early and found eight [people present. Rabban Gamliel] said, ‘whoever is the one who ascended [to the attic] without permission shall descend.’ Shmuel HaKattan stood up and said, ‘I am the one who ascended without permission. I did not come [to take part in] making the year into a leap year, rather, [for the purpose of learning the practical halacha [in reference to determining the Jewish leap year], I [found it] necessary [to come.’ Rabban Gamliel] said to him, ‘Sit my son, sit. All of the years are fit to be determined to be a leap year by you. However, [this can not be done, for] the Sages have said that we do not determine the leap year except with those who are invited to determine the leap year.’ It was not Shmuel HaKattan [who ascended without permission], rather, it was another person [who ascended without permission], and for the sake of [avoiding another] being embarrassed, [Shmuel HaKattan claimed that he was the one who ascended uninvited].

[There was another incident] when Rabbi [Yihudah HaNasi] was sitting and expounding [a Torah teaching] and the smell of garlic [was present in the room. Whereupon, Rabbi Yihudah HaNasi] said, ‘Whoever is the one who ate garlic should go outside.’ Rabbi Chiyah stood up and went out. [Thereupon], all [of the others who were learning at the class] stood up and went outside. In the morning, Rabbi Shimon, the son of [Rabbi Yihudah HaNasi] found Rabbi Chiya. [Rabbi Shimon] said to him, ‘You are the one who brought distress to [my] father.’ [Rabbi Chiya responded], ‘There should not be one [who would do such a thing] in [the Nation of] Israel.’ From where did Rabbi Chiya learn to [behave in such a way]? He learned [such behavior] from Rabbi Meir. For we learn in a Baraisa, [as follows]: “There was an incident involving one woman who came to the Study Hall of Rabbi Meir. She said to [Rabbi Meir], ‘One of you betrothed me with sexual intercourse. Rabbi Meir stood up and wrote a bill of divorce for her and gave it to her. All [of those present] stood up and gave her [bills of divorce]. Where did Rabbi Meir learn [to act in such a manner]? He learned it from Shmuel HaKattan. From where did Shmuel HaKattan learn such [behavior]? He learned it from Shichaniah the son of Yichiel, as is written, “And Shichaniah the son of Yichiel from the children of Eilam answered, and he said to Ezra, ‘We have transgressed against our G-d, and we have settled with alien women from the nations of the Land [of Israel], and now there is hope for Israel regarding this.” (Ezra: 10; 2) From where did Shechaniah the son of Yichiel learn of such [behavior, stating an untruth about himself in order to minimize embarrassment to others]? He learned of such [behavior] from Yihoshua, as it is written, “And HaShem said to Yihoshua, you shall get up, why are you fallen on your face? [The Nation of] Israel has sinned…” (Yihoshua: 7; 10 – 11) [Whereupon, Yihoshua] said before The Master of the Universe, ‘Who sinned?’ [HaShem] said to [Yihoshua], “Am I a talebearer for you? [Rather], draw lots [to discover the culprit.] Alternatively, I could say that [Shechaniah learned such behavior] from Moshe, as it is written, “[And HaShem said to Moshe, ‘Until when shall you refuse [to guard My mitzvos and My laws]?’”” (Shmos: 16; 28)

RaSh”I comments that HaShem asked in general, [referring to all the Jewish People, when He said], “Until when shall you refuse to guard My mitzvos and My laws?” HaShem issued a statement referring to the Jewish People in general, though only a small portion of the Jewish People sinned by seeking Manna to gather on the Shabbos, (Shmos: 16; 27) though explicitly prohibited to do so. (Shmos: 16; 25 – 26)

Thus, from the above gemara, as well as the gemara quoted from maseches Horayos (13b), we learn that in certain circumstances, protecting one’s fellow from suffering embarrassment is so great, that it warrants being untruthful.

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