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

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon ז טבת - Teves 7 - Ninety-Seventh Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[Just as we have learned about Yishayahu being punished for speaking improperly concerning the Jewish People, we find] similarly regarding Moshe Rabbeinu, Alav HaShalom, [that he was punished for having] said, “students of sinning men” (Bamidbar: 32; 14), [by having] Shivuel ben Gershon, who was an assistant in the service of idol worship, descended from him, as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said.[1] Moreover, we found with regard to Eliyahu, [in punishment] for him saying, “…I have surely been zealous [for HaShem The G-d of Legions], for [the Children of Israel] have left Your covenant…”, (Milachim I: 19; 10) he was removed from the [group of those who] prophesy, as a result.[2] [In addition], The Holy One, Blessed is He, commanded him to anoint Elisha in his place, as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said.[3]

[Furthermore], it is written in Sefer Chareidim on page 51,[4] in the name of the Midrash, [where we learn] that the captain [of the king of Israel, he being] punished for saying, “Behold, HaShem Will make windows in the Heaven, will this matter occur?” (Milachim II: 7; 2) Such is what [this captain] said: Definitely HaShem is capable of performing [this action of miraculously bringing food to the Jewish People in the very near future to end the famine]. However, this generation resembles the generation of the flood, with respect to whom it would have been fitting to make windows in the Heaven, as [occurred to the generation of the flood, from where HaShem brought much of the floodwaters to wipe out the entire world, with the exception of Noach’s family, all that were aboard the Ark, and sea-life], as it is written, “…and the windows of the Heaven were opened.” (Bireishis: 7; 11) How is it possible that for such an evil generation there will be a great miracle such as this [immediate end to the famine]? Elisha the Prophet responded to him, that since he argued [with words of] prosecution against the Jewish People, he will see [the miracle of the immediate end of the famine] and, [nevertheless], he will not eat [from this food].”

My brother, notice a great metaphor in Tanna D’vei Eliyahu (Eliyahu Rabba), [in] chapter seven, [as follows]: “The Children of Israel are analogous to a vineyard, as it says [in sefer Yishayahu], “For the Children of Israel are a vineyard [belonging to] HaShem, [Master of] Legions…” (Yishayahu: 5; 7) Based on [the above], Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol says: “The House of Israel, who are the vineyard of The Holy One, Blessed is He, do not peer into them (Meaning: Even with your eye, do not stare at them for the [purpose of] evil), and if you have peered into him, [at least] do not go into his midst, and if you have gone into his midst, [at least] do not benefit from him, and if you have benefited from him, [at least] do not eat from his fruits. If you peered [into] him, and went down [into his midst], and benefited [from him], and ate from his fruits, [that] person will eventually be cut off from the world.”

[1] This teaching can be found in Yalkut Reuveini, [Parshas] Mattos, quoting in the name of the MidrashBamidbar (32; 14).

[2] According to the MaLBI”M, Eliyahu was punished for acting zealously against the People of Israel, once by requesting HaShem to bring a drought due to the sins of the Jewish People, and once by ordering the “prophets” of the idol Ba’al, to be killed. With respect to the cessation of rain due to the practice of idolatry, “Eliyahu the Tishbite from the inhabitants of Gilad said to Achav, [I swear that just as] HaShem, The G-d of Israel, Whom I have stood before, lives, that these years [will not have dew and rain], except in accordance with my word.” (Milachim I: 17; 1) The other incident involved Eliyahu demonstrating to the People of Israel, by way of a public miracle that HaShem is The G-d of Israel, and He is to be worshipped, in contrast, the idol Ba’al should not be worshipped. The miracle involved a fire descending from Heaven and consuming Eliyahu’s water-soaked sacrifice. (Milachim I: 18; 21 – 39) After the Jewish People accepted HaShem by dramatically declaring, “...HaShem, He is The G-d, HaShem, He is The G-d” (18; 39), Eliyahu ordered the four-hundred “prophets” of the idol Ba’al to be slaughtered. (Milachim I: 18; 40)

HaShem, by presenting Eliyahu with the angels of wind, trembling, and fire, demonstrated to Eliyahu that these “loud”, destructive angelic forces do not have HaShem’s Divine Presence pass through their “camp”. It is only in the “silent, thin voice” where HaShem’s Divine Presence resides.

HaShem means to inform Eliyahu that just as His Divine Presence is not “found” within the violent destructive forces of destructive winds, quakes, and fires, so too, His prophets and messengers should follow in His example. Of course, HaShem Created the Universe and HaShem is everywhere. However, these loud natural phenomena "mask" HaShem's Presence in the eyes of people. It is only in the "silent, thin voice" wherein HaShem's Presence is clearly recognized by people. HaShem is teaching Eliyahu not to involve himself with destructive forces such as these, as he was involved, as mentioned above.

It is the way of HaShem’s messengers to bring His People closer to the Torah way of life by using “ropes of love” and soft words.

The RaLBa”G explains that HaShem only brings about these violent “forces of nature” in situations where they will lead to a positive outcome. It is the way of HaShem to delay His “anger”. In fact, the RaLBa”G notes that the cessation of dew and rain for three years was not successful in bringing the Jewish People closer to worshipping HaShem.

From the above, we learn that it is essential for the messengers of HaShem, even those of such great righteousness as Eliyahu, to use the “silent, still voice” approach, bringing the Jewish People closer to HaShem through the means of love. In contrast, unless instructed to explicitly, it is for the messengers of HaShem to avoid actions punishing the Jewish People. The goal is to bring the Jewish People closer to the Torah way of life, the means must justify those goals, being carried out in a manner which demonstrates that one “loves his fellow [Jew] as [he loves himself].” (Vayikra: 19; 18)

[3] [This teaching is] brought in Yalkut Milachim. See Yalkut Shimoni [on sefer Milachim I], chapter 19, Remez 217, in the end [of that section].

The Yalkut Shimoni states as follows:

“[HaShem asked Eliyahu when he came to Har Chorave]: “…Why have you come here Eliyahu?” (Milachim I: 19; 9) [Eliyahu] should have said before [HaShem, in response], ‘Master of the Universe, behold your children are the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov, who acted toward You in accordance with Your Will in Your world.’ [Eliyahu] did not do this, rather, he said, ‘I have surely been zealous…’ (Milachim I: 19; 10) The Holy One, Blessed is He, began speaking words of consolation with [Eliyahu]. He said, ‘When I descended to give the Torah to [the Nation of] Israel, only the Ministering Angels descended with Me, for they desired the good [of the Jewish People], as it says, “Go out and stand on the mountain… and following the [angels of] shaking, fire. [HaShem] waited three hours, [and Eliyahu] still stood by his first words, and said “…I have surely been zealous…” (Milachim I: 19; 14) [Thereupon], The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to [Eliyahu], “…and Elisha… you shall anoint as a Prophet in your place” (Milachim I: 19; 16) And that which you have in your mind, you are not able to do. (He said to [Eliyahu], ‘You are always zealous’.)

[Translator’s note: Eliyahu should have learned from the angels of HaShem who came in wind, quaking, and fire, that he should have taken their example, to argue to HaShem for the benefit of the Jewish People, even in that situation, where the people were behaving very improperly.]

A continuation of this discussion of the zealousness of Eliyahu is found in Yalkut Shimoni, Yihoshua, Remez 15:

Once the Kingdom of Israel split into the kingdoms of Yihuda and Ephrayim, the Kingdom of Ephrayim prevented bris milah (circumcision). Thereupon, Eliyahu stood up with great zeal and swore to Heaven that dew and rain would not descend. Queen Izevel heard about this and sought to kill Eliyahu. Eliyahu then stood up and prayed to The Holy One, Blessed is He and HaShem instructed him to flee for his safety, just as Ya’akov fled from Eisav, Moshe fled from Paroh, and David fled from Shaul. HaShem said to Eliyahu, ‘Why are you here?’ Eliyahu answered that he was zealous. HaShem answered him that he has always been zealous, at Shittim, with the incident of sexual promiscuity (See the end of Parshas Balak and beginning of Parshas Pinchas), and here you are zealous. As a result of this situation, Eliyahu was determined by HaShem to be present to witness all circumcisions of the Jewish People.

[4] This [teaching] is found in chapter 47, sif 23, according to the new printing.

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