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, July 31, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon ט"ו תשרי - Tishrei 15 - Fifteenth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

If one speaks slander against his fellow and arouses quarrels against him, he arouses above [in Heaven] a matter of prosecution against the Jewish People, and [through his forbidden speech], gives the Satan power to bring prosecution against the Jewish People. This follows that which is [taught] in the Holy Zohar,[1] [as follows]: “There is a spirit above that stands over all of the habitual speakers of slander. For when people arouse themselves to be involved in Lashon HaRa, this evil, impure spirit, known as Sachsocha, is aroused Above, [in Heaven]. [Sachsocha] rests on that arousal of slander that those people initiated. [Once people speak Lashon HaRa, Sachsocha] ascends to Heaven [with the power gained from the speakers of Lashon HaRa], and with that arousal of Lashon HaRa, he causes death, sword, and killing, [to be brought] into the world. Woe to those who awaken that evil side by not guard their mouths and tongues and not worrying about these [terrible calamities caused by their forbidden speech]. They are not aware that based on the arousal [initiated] below, [in this world], is dependant the arousal Above, [in Heaven], whether for the good [as a result of a good action] or for the bad [as a result of a sinful action]… For all [of the speakers of forbidden speech] “prosecute” [with their forbidden speech] to arouse that great snake[2]. [As a result of the forbidden speech, the Satan] will prosecute against the world, all due to that arousal of Lashon HaRa, when [the forbidden speech] is aroused below [in this world].”

Behold, when we contemplate only to a small degree, concerning this awesome matter [of the great dangers of forbidden speech], we will, as a result, immediately understand why The Holy One, Blessed is He, is more strict regarding this sin than [He is in respect to] all of the [other] sins. [In fact], HaShem [“distances” Himself from the slanderer] and does not want to associate with the habitual speaker of slander [even] to save him from his troubles. [The aforementioned resembles] that which
will, G-d willing, be [presented later on [in this sefer] in the name of the Sifrei[3]. [Similar to the above teaching, the Zohar[4] comments as follows]: “Rabbi Shimon said: The Holy One, Blessed is He, forgives [for all sins] with the exception of slander. [HaShem is very forgiving], for it is known, that The Holy One, Blessed is He, has a great love of the Jewish People; they are considered by Him to be as a cherished son and delightful child, as the pasuk states in [sefer Yirmiyahu (31; 19), as follows]: “Is Ephraim My cherished son or is he a delightful child?…” When one has a cherished son and a delightful child, [though] he sees [the child] behaving improperly, [the father] nevertheless protects him due to his great love of [the child]. Even if, at times, [the father] punishes [his child, the punishment] will be [carried out] with great favor and mercy. Indeed, if people were to come to [the father] once or twice and tell him of the many sins of his son, [describing] how he argues and quarrels with people for no reason and that he embarrasses and shames everyone, [as a result], the power of anger within the father will definitely intensify toward [his son, to the point that he will] strike and shame him for this [misbehavior]. Who caused the son [to suffer] this [punishment]? The [individual] who spoke [against the son]. The [above] is [true about forbidden speech]; for The Holy One, Blessed is He, because of His great love of the Jews, will not arouse within Himself to inflict evil on the Jews, though He knows all that is done in private and in public, as it is written (Yirmiyahu: 23; 24) “‘If a man will hide [in hidden places and I would not see him?!?’, so says HaShem. ‘Don’t I fill the Heavens and the earth, so says HaShem!’][5]”. [HaShem generally avoids inflicting suffering on the Jews] as it is written (Bamidbar: 23; 21): “He does not focus on evil within Ya’akov…” this follows RaSh"I’s explanation.[6] Indeed, if the Prosecutor approaches [HaShem], relating to Him these [sins of the Jewish People], it would seemingly be necessary for Him to provide some sort of response. [This is similar is the response provided by the governments on earth upon hearing one shout out concerning the given wrongdoing another had inflicted upon them before the leaders, as is written in the books]. In such a manner, the King of the Universe established that the matters of people [proceed] through the [medium of] advocates and the prosecutors.

[1] This teaching from the Zohar is found on Parshas Pekudei, volume 2, 264, 2 – 265, 1.

[2] The “great snake” refers to the Satan. He is called the “great snake” as he is the snake discussed in the beginning of the Torah (Bereishis: 3; 1) who entices Chavah to eat from the forbidden fruit of the tree of “knowledge of good and evil”, thus bringing death to humanity. The
Satan” is the Angel of Death and is the Prosecuting angel who is able to prosecute against individuals as a result of Lashon HaRa that is spoken in this world.

[3] “Sifrei” is the halachic commentary on the Chumash from the Mishnaic era.

[4] This teaching from the Zohar is found on Parshas Sh'lach, volume 3, 161, 1.

[5] HaShem is saying that since He fills all of Creation there is no such place as that which is “hidden” from Him. Therefore, all is known to Him no matter where the person goes.

[6] RaSh”I comments on the verse in Parshas
Sh'lach (Bamidbar: 23; 21), as follows: “He does not see iniquity in Ya’akov:… The Holy One, Blessed is He, does not focus on the iniquity that is within Ya’akov. When they transgress His words, He is not precise with them to contemplate on the sins that are in their midst and on their acts of misery with which they transgress His Will.”

HaShem His G-d is with him: Even when they try to cause Him anger and are rebellious before Him, He does not move from their midst.” RaSh”I comments that HaShem does not remove His Divine Presence from the midst of the Jewish People even when they rebel against Him.

Shmiras HaLashon י"ד תשרי - Tishrei 14 - Fourteenth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Chapter 2

More On This Topic [Concerning why The Torah is so Strict Regarding the Sin of Forbidden Speech]

In addition [to that which was stated in the previous chapter concerning the severity of the sin of Lashon HaRa], there is another reason [as to why Lashon HaRa is the most severe of sins]. For it is known that in accordance with how a person conducts himself in this world, he arouses the same type of attribute in the upper world. If he is accustomed to exercise restraint over his character traits and he behaves [toward] people with the traits of kindness and mercy, corresponding to [these positive attributes] he arouses the trait of mercy in the Heavens and The Holy One, Blessed is He, has mercy on the world because of his [actions]. From the fruit of the mouth of a person his soul will be sated; [by practicing mercy toward others] he similarly merits that The Holy One, Blessed is He, is merciful toward him and forgives [him for] his intentional sins. [This follows that which our Sages of Blessed Memory have] stated [in maseches Shabbos (151b), as follows]: “All those who have mercy on others, in Heaven they [act with] mercy [toward] him” [and] “One who overcomes their natural disposition [not responding] to those who wrong them – [in Heaven], they overlook all of his sins (Rosh HaShanah, 17a). This [above teaching] resembles the following [quoted] from the Holy Zohar[1]: “We have learned [that] an action performed in [this world] arouses the [corresponding] action Above, [in Heaven]. If a person performs an action properly in this world, similarly, the [corresponding] power aroused in a fitting manner Above, [in Heaven]. If one performs [acts of] kindness in this world, he arouses [the attribute of] mercy Above, [in Heaven], and [that attribute of kindness] rests [on the world] on that day, [the world] being crowned in [kindness] for his sake [as a result of his kindness. Similarly], if a person acts with mercy [in this world], he arouses mercy on that day and, [as a result, the world] is crowned in mercy for [the] sake [of the individual who acted with mercy, as a result of the mercy that he displayed toward others. In the merit of his mercy], that day [on which he acted mercifully], remains for him, [in order] to [act as a] shield for his sake in his time of need. A person is [judged] measure for measure [by Heaven]… Praiseworthy is the one who exhibits proper actions below, [in this world], for his actions [in this world] completely affect that which is correspondingly aroused [Above, in Heaven].”

If one’s disposition is to behave toward people [in a manner in which one does] not yield anything to them and does not have mercy upon them, [as a result, these actions], the Heavenly Attribute of Justice is strengthened [both] upon the world and [upon] himself, for Heaven judges a person [based on their actions], measure for measure, not conceding any of his [negative] actions. The aforementioned follows that which our Sages of Blessed memory intended to convey when they stated [in maseches Bava Metzia, (30b), as follows]: “Jerusalem was only destroyed because [the people] set all of their matters on Torah law[2].” Apparently, they committed many sins, as explained in the verse. According to [the aforementioned teaching from Bava Metzia”], the fact that a person is judged “measure for measure”] makes sense. For if [the Jews who lived prior to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash] would have overcome their natural disposition [and forgave their fellow Jews], The Holy One, Blessed is He, would have also forgiven them [in the merit of their having acted properly toward their fellow Jews, in a manner that was “beyond the letter of the law”]. However, [many of those who lived prior to the destruction of the Beish HaMikdash] set their matters [in a manner where they] did not yield to their fellow Jews more than the law demanded. Therefore, [in light of their behavior], The Holy One, Blessed is He, was also exacting [and unforgiving in His Judgment toward them in light of their sins, thus destroying Jerusalem and the First Beis HaMikdash].[3]

[1] The teaching from the Zohar is found in Parshas Emor, volume 3, 92, 1-2.

[2] There are two readings of this gemara, some read that the people always brought their legal matters before the Jewish courts. The reading of the Chofetz Chaim is “Jerusalem was only destroyed because [the people] set all of their matters on Torah law”. From a simple understanding of the gemara, one would naturally be led to ask why Yerushalayim would be destroyed for doing something seemingly good, in their case, as going to the courts to adjudicate any Torah matter based on Torah law.

In an explanation of what would have averted Jerusalem’s destruction, the gemara immediately continues, “and they did not act beyond the letter of the law”. The Chofetz Chaim therefore explains that each individual who behaved scrupulously by taking their cases to the high-court failed to give their fellow Jew any slack. For example, one person who felt that his fellow wronged him monetarily brought him to court to have things worked out according to the letter of the law based on the judgment of the court. Instead, the person could have forgiven his fellow, acting “beyond the letter of the law”, something perfectly acceptable in Jewish law. By taking their many disputes to the court to be “judged according to the letter of the law”, these individuals were judged according to the letter of the law. Since many of these people sinned frequently, they could not stand up to the strict judgment meted out by Heaven, and consequently Jerusalem was destroyed.

The Chofetz Chaim notes that the verses attest to the sinfulness of the people at that time. Perhaps the Chofetz Chaim was referring to the following verse"הוי גוי חטא, עם כבד עון, זרע מרעים, בנים משחיתים; עזבו את ה, נאצו את קדוש ישראל:נזרו אחור:" – “Woe, sinful nation, a people heavy with sin, a seed of evildoers, children who destroy; they have left HaShem, they have spurned The Holy One of Israel, they have separated themselves [from G-d], turning backwards. (Yeshayahu: 1; 4)

The Tosafos note on this gemara (Bava Metzia, 30b) that in maseches Yoma (9b), the gemara states that the Beis HaMikdash – Temple (and by extension, Yerushalayim) were destroyed as a result of baseless hatred between Jews. Tosafos answers that the reason for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash was both a result of the baseless hatred and people taking each other to court frequently.

It is essential to note the following: The Chofetz Chaim pointed out that the sins of the Jewish People are noted in the verses in the Tanach. The Tanach (which includes the Torah, Prophets, and Writings) only discusses the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash. The TaNa"Ch concludes with a recounting of the Jewish People’s return prior to the building of the Second Beis HaMikdash. Therefore, clearly the Chofetz Chaim is pointing out that it was the Jews who lived prior to the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash who frequently brought each other to court. Furthermore, we can see from the gemara - Yoma (9b) that the Temple referred to by the Chofetz Chaim was the First Temple. The gemara notes that the First Temple was destroyed due to rampant sexual immorality, murder, and idolatry. When discussing the reason for the destruction of the Second Temple, the gemara asks: “But during the period of the Second Temple, the people were involved in Torah learning and acts of kindness, so why was it destroyed?” The gemara answers: “Because of the baseless hatred that was [found] amongst them. This [gemara] comes to teach us that the sin of baseless hatred is equal to, [and as destructive as], the sins of sexual immorality, murder, and idolatry.”

What is important to note is that the Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, whereas the First Temple was destroyed due to the sins of sexual immorality, murder, and idolatry. Clearly, the Chofetz Chaim holds that the gemara noted above in maseches Bava Metzia (30b) refers to the First Beis HaMikdash, while the Tosafos hold that the court-prone society under discussion, existed in the time of the Second Beis HaMikdash.

Similar to the reasoning of Tosafos who notes that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed both due to baseless hatred and people not willing to go beyond the letter of the law, the Chofetz Chaim explains that the Jewish People were only judged on account of their terrible sins once they demanded to take each other to court, thus being unforgiving toward one another. For more on this topic, see the linked divrei Torah by Rabbi Frand and HaMa’ayan.

[3] This [teaching] can be found in sefer Toldos Adam. If [this teaching] is not found there, see the commentary “Iyun Ya’akov” on Ein Ya’akov in reference to the above gemara where this [teaching] is discussed.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: י"ג תשרי - Tishrei 13 - Thirteenth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

It seems that [it is fitting] to explain of [the severity of the sin of forbidden speech] in a number of ways, [which shall be done] with the help of HaShem Yisbarach. [See above in the preface where we discussed yet another matter concerning [the severity of the sin of Lashon HaRa].] [The severity of the sin of Lashon HaRa] is discussed in the Yerushalmi[1] [where it is taught] that just as the reward of Torah learning is comparable to [the reward] of all the positive mitzvos [combined], similarly, the punishment of Lashon HaRa is comparable to [the punishment] of all the sins [combined, the exact quote of which we shall transcribe later on]. We find that Torah learning is the greatest of all positive mitzvos, and, corresponding to it, Lashon HaRa is the gravest among all of the sins. The reason for this appears obvious. For just as with regard to the basic elements that HaShem Yisbarach embedded in the world, they being fire, wind, water, and dirt, an ethereal element is much more powerful than a corporeal element, to the degree that the more corporeal element is considered nearly insignificant by comparison to it. For as we observe with our senses, when fire overcomes a corporeal entity [the fire] destroys it, similarly when the element of wind gains power, it can break apart mountains and smash boulders, as the verse states (Melachim I: 19; 11), “A great and mighty wind breaks apart mountains and smashes boulders”. This reality applies in supernal matters, such as [the mitzvos of] tzitzis[2], lulav[3], shofar[4], as well as to all [of the other] commandments. Though these mitzvos achieve rectifications in the upper worlds, and through their [performance] man is also sanctified to HaShem, as is written (Bamidbar: 15; 40), “And you shall perform all My commandments, and you shall be sanctified to your G-d,” nevertheless, there is no comparison between [performance of all other mitzvos] and Torah learning. [This follows that which] is [taught] in the Yerushalmi[5], [as follows]: All the mitzvos are not comparable to one word of Torah [learning]. The reason for [the superiority of Torah learning over all other mitzvos] is that all [other] mitzvos are connected to the corporeal. The commandment of tzitzis is impossible to fulfill unless one wears a physical garment, similarly sukkah and lulav, and, in this vein, all of the positive commandments [cannot be fulfilled except with a physical object]. The aforementioned is not true regarding Torah learning, it being dependent on the power of speech which is a power that is obviously solely spiritual in nature. Therefore, [one’s] involvement [in Torah learning] results in effects in the upper worlds that are awesome [in magnitude. In light of the powerful spiritual effects of Torah study], the power of learning Torah is equivalent to all other [mitzvos. In contrast, when one speaks that which is forbidden,] his words achieve the opposite [effects] and can have a damaging effect [beyond the damage caused by other sins]. Because of [the] physical nature [of many of the sins], when one [commits one of the other transgressions] with one of the physical limbs, the resulting damage in the upper worlds is not so great. This is not the case with the sins of slander and tale bearing which are ethereal in nature; the damage [inflicted] above, in the upper worlds [due to these sins], is extremely strong and great, and therefore the punishment for [these sins] is also equivalent to that of all [other sins].

[1] This teaching is found in the Jerusalem Talmud: Peah, Ch. 1, Halacha 1; page 4b.

[2] Tzitzis is a four-corned garment with fringes on it (Bamidbar: 15; 37 – 40). “And you shall see it and you shall remember all of the commandments of HaShem and you shall perform them, and you shall not stray after your heart and after your eyes which you stray after. In order that you shall remember and you shall perform all of My commandments and you shall be holy to your G-d
.” (Bamidbar: 15; 39 – 40)

[3] Lulav is the palm frond that is taken during the holiday of Sukkot along with the three branches of myrtle leaves, two branches willow leaves, and esrog. (Vayikra: 23; 40)

[4] Ram’s horn that is blown on the holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. (Vayikra: 23; 24)

[5] This teaching is found in the Jerusalem Talmud, maseches
Peah, chapter 1, halacha 1.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: י"ב תשרי - Tishrei 12 - Twelfth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Subsequent to [discussing that one must guard his tongue from speaking that which is forbidden and how slander relates to sins between man and his fellow, we move on to] the next verse which states “turn away from evil” (Tehillim: 34; 15), referring to the class of sins between man and HaShem. Concerning the 248 positive commandments, the verse then states “and do good” in relation to. [[The pesukim[1] first discuss] guarding from sins that are between man and his fellow, as they include both [sins against one’s fellow and sins against HaShem. For when one wrongs another, he violates the Will of HaShem Who commands against committing this [sin], also wronging his fellow in the process.] Conversely, Heaven Forbid, when [the person] does not guard his tongue from evil, he increases in the performance of many willful sins[2], as well as exceedingly great and powerful inadvertent sins that come about [as a result of this] sin of [forbidden speech]. This matter of guarding the tongue is the root and essence of most sins between man and his fellow, as well as certain sins between man and G-d, this concept being explained in the introduction.

In fact, according to the words of our Sages of Blessed Memory, in maseches[3] Arachin (15a, 16b) and elsewhere, that deal at great length with the enormous shamefulness of this sin [of Lashon HaRa] and its great punishment (we will quote their holy words later on in the book, G-d willing), it is implicit that this sin [of Lashon HaRa] is itself very severe, regardless of that which results from [the forbidden speech]. Therefore we need to elucidate, concerning what [reasons] and why is this sin more severe than the other grave sins that are [found] in the Torah.

[1] Pesukim = Verses.

MaLBI”M explains (Yishayahu: 1; 4) that עון – willful sins – relates to the words עוות and עוה – distort.
עון is the type of sin one performs as a result of intentionally distorting his ways from the way of the Torah, and thereby sins intentionally. חטא – inadvertent sin – refers to a sin performed through negligence, where one thought that the action was not a sin, thinking it is permitted or being blinded to the fact it is forbidden to desire. חטא means “miss, as in miss the target”. Due to erroneously thinking” that a given sin is permitted, or being blinded to its forbidden nature, the person misses the mark”, as his understanding of the given sin is off target”.

Maseches refers to a book from the Talmud.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: י"א תשרי - Tishrei 11 - Eleventh Day: The Gate of Memory

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Guarding the Tongue

First Section – The Gate of Memory – שער הזכירה

Chapter 1

This chapter provides the explanation why the Torah is so strict regarding this sin [of forbidden speech]

In Tehillim (34; 13 – 14) [the following] is written: “Who is the man who desires life who loves days to see “good”? Guard your tongue from evil [and your lips from speaking deceit]”. The commentators[1] have explained that when the verse states “who desires life”, that it [refers to] the eternal life in The World to Come, [while the phrase] “loves days to see “good” [is in reference to life in] this world, [such life] is comparable to days relative to the eternal life [of The World to Come]. It is seemingly very perplexing that the verse singles out that we should specifically guard [ourselves] from [committing] this sin. In the Torah, aren’t we commanded [to uphold] 248 positive commandments and 365 negative commandments, in reference to all of them HaShem Yisbarach has told us in Parshas Nitzavim (Devarim: 30; 15-16) “See I have given before you today the life and the good… that I command you today to love HaShem your G-d to go in His path and to guard His commandments, ordinances, and judgments…”?

Behold, in the opening of sefer Chofetz Chaim[2] we have explained [and enumerated] the many negative and positive commandments that one is accustomed to transgress as a result of this bitter sin [of Lashon HaRa], such [not being the case with] any of the other transgressions in the Torah. The adoption of the simple meaning of the pasuk is [therefore] very fitting “Who is the man [who desires life],” “guard [your tongue from evil],” “distance yourself from evil [and do good]”. [By noting “guarding one’s tongue from evil” and “distance yourself from evil”,] King David, Alav HaShalom[3], wanted to hint to us in a general manner that we should guard ourselves from the sins between man and his fellow as well as from the sins between man and G-d. [Regarding] the grouping of sins between man and his fellow, King David, Alav HaShalom, advised the person who desires life to guard his tongue from evil in all of its specifics, and thereby he will be careful in all [of the sins between man and his fellow].

It is obvious that once one is careful to refrain from sins involving [the attribute of] speech, [the individual will [then] eventually reach the point where he refrains from all sins between man and his fellow. The individual will eventually refrain from all sins between man and his fellow, for when one avoids evils of the tongue, to] never speak derisively about his fellow, observing all of the laws of proper speech[4], even when [his speaking] would not cause damage to his fellow, he will definitely be careful to avoid robbery, theft, and all other sins [committed] between man and his fellow. [In order for one’s proper speech to lead to observance of all of the mitzvos between man and his fellow, one must be careful to observe all the laws of speech, such as] avoid speaking against his fellow if it would cause [the victim] to lose his livelihood, [cause him] embarrassment, [or] strengthen a dispute. [Once one follows the laws of proper speech], having accepted upon himself not to cause anything unfavorable or shameful to befall his fellow [as a consequence of his improper speech], he will [then] eventually become clean from all sins between man and his fellow.

[1] "The commentators" refer to Metzudas David and Tanchuma, Parshas Metzora b.

[2] Sefer "Chofetz Chaim" is the Chofetz Chaim’s work published together with "Shmiras HaLashon" that details the laws of Lashon HaRa.
Immediately following his introduction, sefer "Chofetz Chaim" includes, an opening, one chapter of which enumerates all of the negative commandments related to Lashon HaRa, another which lists all of the positive commandments related to Lashon HaRa, and a third chapter which lists the curses that relate to the sin of speaking Lashon HaRa.

[3] “
Alav HaShalom means "The Peace is upon him", "Shalom" referring to HaShem. This phrase is used in reference to someone who is no longer alive.

[4] This is discussed in the introduction to sefer "Chofetz Chaim".

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: י תשרי - Tishrei 10 - Tenth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[In response to] the second assertion of the evil inclination, [when he states as follows]: “Since it is impossible to follow the law in all of its details, it is better to distance oneself from this trait [of Shmiras HaLashon] altogether”, one should respond: “Would I allow myself to behave this way in my business dealings? For example, if someone saw me zealously running to a business venture that would provide me with a livelihood, and he would ask me: ‘Why do you run? Do you imagine that you will become the richest person in the world as is so-and-so?’ I would certainly answer him: ‘Because I will not be [as wealthy] as [that person], must I bury my hand in a collection plate[1] rather than earn a living?’ If I would answer such in matters of the mortal body, what would I answer regarding matters of the soul? Because I will not be able to guard all details and facets of this trait [of Shmiras HaLashon] whereby I would ascend to a great and holy level for eternity,[2]* shall I completely desist from [maintaining my] soul [by not] guarding my mouth with all of my ability? Shall I not avoid the class of speakers of Lashon HaRa and other wicked types [of individuals], concerning whom our Sages of Blessed Memory have [taught in maseches Sotah (42a)] that they ‘do not receive G-d’s Presence’?”

This was what Shlomo HaMelech[3], peace be upon him, meant when he said (Koheles: 9; 10): “Everything that you find [the opportunity] to do, perform [it] with your [full] ability!”[4] This [teaching of King Solomon's] comes to inform us that, even if one considers that he will be incapable of completing a commandment according to all of its details, he should nevertheless do all that is within his ability [to complete the mitzvah]. Similarly, our Sages of Blessed Memory have commented (Makos 10a) on the pasuk (Devarim: 4, 41): “Then Moshe set aside three cities[5]….” The pasuk informs us that, even though the three cities [of refuge for manslaughterers] on the [east] of the Jordan River do not accept [refugees] until [the cities of refuge] in the Land of Israel are set aside, and even though Moshe knew that he would not enter the Land of Israel, Moshe Rabbeinu[6], peace be upon him, nevertheless said: “All that is in my power to do, I will do.” (This is similar to the explanation of RaSh"I on the pasuk quoted from Devarim).[7]

With the help of HaShem Yisbarach, we have explained that which we learned from Avos D’Rabbi Nosson, that one should not distance himself “from an unlimited amount.” That which [Avos D’Rabbi Nosson] concludes, “and from work which has no completion”, refers to Torah (as is demonstrated [in Avos D’Rabbi Nosson] by the parable [of the gold dinar][8]).

[You should be] aware that everything [that] we have written in this book concerning the great caution [one must exert regarding] the sin of Lashon HaRa, only applies to [speaking against] one who is yet in the category of “your nation.”[9] However, regarding those people who deny [that] the Torah [is from] HaShem (even [if they deny] one letter [thereof]), and those who scorn the words of the Sages of Blessed Memory, it is a mitzvah to publicly expose their deceptive opinions and deride them, so that others will not learn from their evil ways (as explained in sefer Chofetz Chaim (Hilchos Lashon HaRa), chapter 8, law 5).[10]

[1] This refers to subsisting from charity. In order for one to qualify for charitable aid from the “collection plate”, he would need to be exceedingly poor. The Chofetz Chaim is explaining that tremendous success need not be the only motivating factor in working to refrain from Lashon HaRa. Indeed, the prospect of avoiding dismal failure should also motivate one’s efforts.

[2] * {Chofetz Chaim's note: According to the Holy Zohar, Parshas Chukas (volume 3, 183b), one who guards his mouth and tongue [from forbidden speech] merits to be dressed in The Holy Spirit and bask for eternity in the concealed light that no angel and creature could measure. As our Sages of Blessed Memory have said (in the letter of the GR”A), and it is brought in Reishis Chochmah (The Gate of Love, chapter 6 – section 54, in the printing of The Complete Reishis Chochmah) in the name of our master, the Rav, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, of Blessed Memory, [where we learn that] he saw Rav Shushan Sodoth in a dream. In that dream, [Rav Cordevaro] saw that every single hair of his beard was radiant like the light of the torch. [Rav Sodoth merited] this because he was careful to avoid wasteful speech.}

Shlomo HaMelech” is King Solomon.

[4] The entire pasuk reads as follows: “Everything that you find the opportunity to do, perform [it] with your full ability, for there is no accounting, knowledge, or wisdom in the grave which you are going there.” (Koheles: 9; 10)

The pasuk in Hebrew reads: :

".כל אשר תמצא ידך לעשות בכחך עשה כי אין מעשה וחשבון ודעת וחכמה בשאול אשר אתה הלך שמה"

Targum Yonasan ben Uziel explains that one does not have the ability to perform good deeds and charity after his death. Therefore, in order to benefit himself for after his passing, he should perform those actions mandated by the Torah whereby he will receive his reward in The World to Come.

Metzudas David explains that one should strive to reach his potential in performance of the commandments, as well as in enjoyment of the permissible pleasures of this world, for after one’s limited life in this world, he can neither perform mitzvos nor benefit from the pleasures of this world.

[5] If someone would commit murder negligently, he could flee to a City of Refuge to avoid the vengeance of the victim’s relatives. Additionally, even a willing murderer could flee to those cities to avoid such vengeance until he would be forced to face trial.

[6] Rabbeinu” means “our teacher.

[7] RaSh"I comments (Devarim: 4; 41) that Moshe was determined to set aside cities of refuge on the eastern side of the Jordan River as soon he possibly could, despite the fact that those cities would not be required to exist until long after his death. Nevertheless, Moshe said , ‘A mitzvah that is possible to fulfill, I will fulfill [immediately].’
(Makos, 10a)

[8] See footnote 3 on 6 Tishrei.

[9] Vayikra: 19; 16

[10] Chapter 8, law 5 of sefer
Chofetz Chaim details that the laws of Lashon HaRa require one to refrain from speaking against a Jew who is of “your nation.” This refers to those who accept the Torah and mitzvos.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: ט תשרי - Tishrei 9 - Ninth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

I heard [the following] in the name of a Great Torah Sage. Someone asked him, “If one does not concentrate during most of the prayer and finds himself at the end of the prayer, what should he do to arouse himself to begin to concentrate?” [The Scholar] answered with the following parable: “This situation is similar to [the case of] a young girl who stood by the marketplace with a big bag of vegetables for sale, whereupon a robber encountered her and began snatching vegetables from her basket. Startled, she did not know how to react. A wise person standing in the distance told her, ‘Why do you remain standing? Are you waiting for him to grab all of your produce? Behold, [just as] he is grabbing, [you must] also grab, and whatever comes up in your hands will be yours!’” This is exactly the case regarding prayer. Behold, [while a person is praying], the evil inclination strengthens itself over him and casts laziness and foreign thoughts upon him, to the degree that the person lacks concentration in many of the blessings. [Like the girl in the parable], you must also “grab” and arouse yourself with all of your strength to concentrate on the blessings which you have yet to recite.

This is exactly the case in our matter. [If] the evil inclination will be victorious over you today [encouraging you to speak] forbidden words, you shall stand and strengthen yourself against him tomorrow, [so that you will emerge] victorious over him. Even if [the evil inclination] will be victorious again, Heaven Forbid, nevertheless, you shall return and strengthen yourself against him to battle him. [If you act in this manner], The Holy One, Blessed is He, will definitely help you [and ensure] that you will also be among the victorious ones, for “[if] one comes to be purified, they help him [from Heaven].”[1] In summary, there should be war between a person and his evil inclination all of one's days. This is, in essence, the intention of our Sages of Blessed Memory [when they instruct]: “A person should always agitate [his good inclination over his evil inclination].”[2] This is also what the pasuk [in Koheles (10; 4)] says: “If the spirit of the ruler rises upon you, do not cede your place.”[3]

[1] See the RaMBa"M’s (Maimonides') Yad HaChazakah (Laws of Repentance: 6; 5): “In other words, he will find himself assisted in the matter [of purification, in his quest to overcome his evil inclination].”

[2] Once a person arouses his good inclination to fight against his evil inclination, it will be easier for him to successfully overcome his inclination to sin.

[3] The entire pasuk reads, “If the spirit of the ruler rises upon you, do not cede your place, for one who [allows himself to become] weakened leaves great sins.” The pasuk in Hebrew (Koheles: 10; 4) reads:

.אם-רוח המושל תעלה עליך מקומך אל-תנח כי מרפא יניח חטאים גדולים

The Targum (lit. translation, generally from Hebrew to Aramaic) of Yonasan ben Uziel gives the following explanation, “If the spirit of the evil inclination causes you to stumble and strengthens himself [in order to try] to remove you from your good place in which you were accustomed to fulfilling [the Torah], do not leave [your place] for the words of Torah were created as a remedy, causing great sins to be removed and forgotten from this world.”

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: ח תשרי - Tishrei 8 - Eighth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[Guarding one's tongue from forbidden speech for even a short while is worthwhile], even [in the context of] the argument of the evil inclination, [who claims] that the resolution and obligation [of Shmiras HaLashon] that [one] would accept [upon himself] in his heart for the future would not help him [be successful in that trait] for more than a few days. However, if we delve into this matter, you will see that the claim of the evil inclination is intrinsically false, for [this claim of the Yetzer HaRa] has already been examined by the furnace of experience. [The above claim of the evil inclination is false], for if one is willing to toil in [this trait of Shmiras HaLashon], the more he accustoms himself [in] it, the easier it becomes for him to guard himself [from speaking that which is forbidden. The individual who practices observance of the trait of Shmiras HaLashon would lead to greater avoidance of forbidden speech], for when [the person] says something improper, he will take notice [of that forbidden speech], while, initially, because of his thoroughly habitual involvement with all his [impulsive] desires, he would not notice [of such infractions]. With a bit of motivation for [one's] soul, [the person] will [successfully] prevent himself from speaking forbidden words, given that he is no longer compelled by habit.*[1]

Even if [the person] will endure a certain period of time when, for any reason, he is not able to arouse his soul in this matter [of Shmiras HaLashon], or if he has found that, on a number of occasions, his evil inclination has overcome him in this area [of observance], he should [still] not disappointedly resign from [engaging in] this matter [of avoiding slander]. Rather, [the person should spend] all of his days continuing to strengthen and inspire himself in the area of guarding his tongue, and he will [consequently] emerge victorious. [The above that which] our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in maseches Berachos (5a)]: “A person should always agitate the good inclination against the evil inclination….” This “agitation” refers to the eternal war that he will wage against his evil inclination, as we have written.

[1] * {Chofetz Chaim’s note: However, [regarding] this area, where one will set the habit of guarding his tongue in his soul, it appears that there is an obvious mode of advice by which he should act: From the beginning he should determine to become an expert in all the specific laws of Shmiras HaLashon and review them exceedingly well until he will become an expert in them. Thereby, he will know what speech falls under the category of “guarding”. By employing this method, he will naturally [come to] desist from most of his habits of forbidden speech he possessed up to the present. Subsequently, even if he will only set aside a designated time each week to [combat] this habit of Lashon HaRa, he will [still] greatly benefit. [However], as each person is influenced by his nature and environment, there are some people who need to check themselves every day [to determine] their current situation and comportment in the area of Shmiras HaLashon.}

Friday, July 21, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: ז תשרי - Tishrei 7 - Seventh Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

With the Help of HaShem Yisbarach, we shall thoroughly explain that which have [previously] written, [as follows]:

First of all, regarding the claim of the [evil] inclination that one’s observance of Shmiras HaLashon will not last longer than one or two days, he should answer [the evil inclination]: “Were it as you say, should one become lax in observing [Shmiras HaLashon] because of this? If someone were to go to the seashore and see that the ocean had washed up valuable stones and pearls, would he allow himself to be lax in gathering [these valuables] because he would only have a few hours, or at most one day [allotted], for gathering? Obviously not! [The above is true] even [of] a very rich person, all the more so [is this true of] a poor [person]. For having to [having to spend this amount of time would only be a good reason to desist from gathering] something inferior and contemptible. [This is not so in the collection of] valuable stones and pearls; every single moment that he gathers them and grasps them in his hand is of greater value than spending one-hundred days gathering inferior objects! This is exactly the case in our matter. For it is known what the GR”A teaches (in his holy letter Alim L’Terufah – “Leaves for healing”) in the name of the Midrash: For every single moment that a person stifles his mouth, he merits the Hidden Light (which no angel or creature can fathom). Notice that the Midrash does not mention “month”, “year”, “day”, or “hour”, but “moment”. This is essentially the meaning of the pasuk [in Mishlei (2, 4)] “If you will seek it as [you would] silver…”[1]; a person must seek his eternal goal as he would seek out silver and search for a hidden treasure. This is what the Tanna meant by saying, “Do not distance yourself from [an unlimited amount]”: A person should consider everything that he can obtain from [an “unlimited amount”] as a merit and a boon, [regardless of the quantity].

[1] The p'sukim read, “4. If you will seek it as [you would] silver, and as buried treasures [you will] search for it. 5. Then you will understand fear of HaShem, and knowledge of G-d will you find. 6. For HaShem gives wisdom, from His mouth emanates knowledge and understanding.”

The Hebrew reading is as follows:

("ד) אם-תבקשנה ככסף וכמטמונים תחפשנה: (ה) אז תבין יראת ה ודעת אלקים תמצא: (ו) כי-ה יתן חכמה מפיו דעת ותבונה:"

According to the MaLBI"M, “seek it as [you would] silver” implies a more modest attempt to acquire wisdom (one willing to exchange worldly desires for Torah wisdom), while the phrase “as buried treasure” implies a more rigorous effort that produces the hidden pearls of wisdom hidden in the depths of the Torah.

Shmiras HaLashon: ו תשרי - Tishrei 6 - Sixth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

I have also decided to reproduce my explanation of the saying of our Sages of Blessed Memory (in Avos D’Rabbi Nosson (chapter 27, section 3)) [at] this [point in the] introduction, so that everyone will consequently be able to respond to the claims of his [evil] inclination [concerning] this matter [of Shmiras HaLashon]. The following is the quote [from Avos D’Rabbi Nosson]: “[Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavai] used to say: ‘Do not distance yourself from an that which has no limit or from work which has no end’…. a golden dinar[1]….”[2] I have considered that the intent behind the usage of the term “amount” in Avos D’Rabbi Nosson relates to our topic [of Shmiras HaLashon, as follows]: It is known that the [evil] inclination entices a person to distance himself from the trait of Shmiras HaLashon and from learning [of] its details. [The evil inclination] will say to you, “What benefit will you derive by learning and delving into this matter? Are you capable of reaching the epitome of [this trait] and guarding your mouth all the days of your life? Were that [your] fulfillment of this [task] would last one or two days, [it would be impressive]! And even in this short period of time, would you guard all the aspects [of Shmiras HaLashon] which you are required to guard? Are you not a worldly man who has many dealing with hundreds of people? It is better for you to not [even] begin [to work on] this trait at all, for it is a trait that is unlimited, both in time and in substance. For [this trait] spans all parts of the seasons and periods of time through which a person exists during his mortal life, and it [also] includes all aspects of the issues of human interaction!” [In response to this claim of the evil inclination], the Tanna, Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavai comes and succinctly teaches us that [the evil inclination’s claims are], in fact, false, and that a person should not distance himself “from that which has no limit….”

[1] Golden dinar (דינר זהב) – A large coin twenty-five times the value of its counterpart, the silver dinar.

[2] Avos D’Rabbi Nosson (27: 3): “[Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavai] used to say: ‘Do not distance yourself from that which has no limit and from work which has no end.’ This is analogous to one who takes water from the ocean and puts it on dry land. The ocean [remains] undiminished and the dry land [remains] unsaturated [with water. Noticing how relatively little he has accomplished], this individual becomes frustrated. Someone then said to him, ‘Empty one! Why are you frustrated? Every day you collect your wage of one golden dinar [for your apparently unproductive work]!’”

According to the
Binyan Yeshoshua, the above analogy relates to Torah which is “longer than the span of the land and wider than the ocean”. The individual pouring ocean water onto dry land represents the one who toils in Torah. This individual, realizing how little he has learned relative to the vastness of Torah, may become lax, figuring that there is not much benefit in accomplishing relatively little in learning. His friend comes over to encourage him to strengthen his dedication to Torah by reminding him of his great reward that accumulates every time he learns Torah.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: ה תשרי - Tishrei 5 - Fifth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[Though the third section of seferShmiras HaLashon” includes much important and beneficial information which encourages proper speech], nevertheless, the gentle reader should know that even if the book finds favor in his eyes, with the Help of HaShem Yisbarach, he should not think that it is sufficient for him to know only this third volume, for knowledge of the first two volumes are also necessary for “the man who desires life”. As it says in the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni on Mishlei, 1:929): “‘To know wisdom and mussar….[1]’ (Mishlei: 1; 2) If a person possesses wisdom, [behold, he learns mussar, and] if a person does not possess wisdom, he is incapable of learning mussar.”[2] The meaning of this passage is obvious: If someone is mistaken regarding the nature of the law, no mussar will benefit him. Take, for example, someone who does not consider one of his [prohibited] business dealings as thievery. How would it help for him to learn all the areas of mussar that would inspire him with the severity of the sin of thievery, when he believes that [his dealings] do not involve theft at all? The same holds true [regarding] all areas of Torah. Therefore, one needs to learn the laws of the Torah so that he will know what is forbidden and what is permitted. He must also learn the concepts of mussar which bring a person to the fear of HaShem Yisbarach, so that he will motivate himself to fulfill the [precepts of the] Torah, and [specifically] the positive precept (Devarim: 10; 20): “You shall fear HaShem your G-d.” The same is true in the matter of [Lashon HaRa]: How will one benefit from all the mussar in the world concerning the severity of the prohibition involving Lashon HaRa and Rechilus prohibitions, once he has rationalized [his behavior by] saying that it is not Lashon HaRa at all, or that the Torah does not include [speaking against] “A person like that!” in the prohibition of Lashon HaRa. Therefore, a person must know what falls under the category of Lashon HaRa according to the halacha. [Additionally], in order to enable himself to overpower his [evil] inclination and fulfill that which he learned, he should see to it to learn mussar, it being the [discussion of] the magnitude of the punishment and reward concerning this matter [of guarding one's tongue].

[Correspondingly], there is another benefit in knowing the laws [of Lashon HaRa], whereby one will not come to be overly strict upon himself and forbid [himself from speaking against] an individual regarding whom it is a mitzvah to deride. [It would be a mitzvah to damage the reputation of someone [who] spreads heresy wherever such derision would] prevent the individual from deceiving the public with his heretical views (see Chofetz Chaim, section 8, paragraph 5 in the first section and in Be’air Mayim Chaim). [Knowledge of the laws of Lashon HaRa will also prevent one from being overly strict and forbidding himself from speaking negatively where there is] some other [extenuating] benefit [in speaking negatively] (see the introduction to sefer Chofetz Chaim).

[1] “Mussar” is moral reproof.

[2] The text from Yalkut Shimoni states, as follows:

““To know wisdom and mussar...” (Mishlei: 1; 2) - If there is mussar, why [is there] wisdom, and if there is wisdom, why [is there] mussar? Rather, if a person possesses wisdom, behold, he learns mussar, and if a person does not possess wisdom, he is not capable of learning mussar. ”

“Another explanation [of the aforementioned quote from Mishlei”]: “To know wisdom and mussar...” - If a person possesses wisdom, behold, the words of Torah are passed (mussarin - related to the word mussar”) into his possession, and if he does not possess wisdom, the words of Torah are not passed into his possession.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: ד תשרי - Tishrei 4 - Fourth Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Indeed, every Jew wants to keep the Torah in its entirety, not detracting from it at all, as is written [in sefer Yeshayahu[1] (60; 21), as follows]: “And each [member] of Your Nation is righteous…”. However, there are many factors that cause people to slacken in this holy trait of Shmiras HaLashon, [concerning] which we shall explain later on in greater detail, G-d Willing. [At the present, let us touch upon] the three main reasons [for such laxity in guarding oneself from forbidden speech]:

1) Lack of knowledge: [This applies when] the speaker is ignorant regarding which types of speech fall under the category of Lashon HaRa. To address this [cause for laxity in observance of the laws of forbidden speech], we have compiled the first two sections in the book Chofetz Chaim.

2) The Yetzer HaRa’s[2] concentration in this matter [of Lashon HaRa]: [Our violation of the laws of Lashon HaRa] enables the Satan to prosecute us, [as we learn in the Zohar[3] on Parshas Pekudei]. Consequently, our prayers will not be accepted Above, [in Heaven] (Zohar, Metzora), as we have written later on [in this book], in the name of the Holy Zohar[4].

3) [Lack of strategy]: The strategies regarding how to deliver oneself from the hand of the Yetzer HaRa are hidden from us. [This is critically disabling in our fight against the Yetzer HaRa], as is written [in Mishlei (20; 18)]: “[A]nd employ strategies when making war.”[5]

In response to [the latter two causes for laxity in Shmiras HaLashon], we have compiled this third volume[6], with the Help of HaShem Yisbarach[7]. This volume gathers together many aggados[8] of our Sages of Blessed Memory, from Shas[9], Midrashim[10], and the Holy Zohar, which speak of the great punishment that one receives in this world and [in The World to] Come because of this bitter sin, may HaShem Protect us [from such punishments. In addition, the third section of this book deals with] the great reward both in this world and in the next world for guarding one’s tongue. For this [reason, concerning the great importance of recognizing the severity of the sin of Lashon HaRa], we have called the first gate in this section “Sha'ar HaZechirah” - “The Gate of Remembrance”. This name is based on the pasuk (Devarim: 24; 9): “Remember what HaShem your G-d did to Miriam….”[11] This section will also include many of the sayings of our Sages of Blessed Memory that arouse and remind one of [the consequences of Lashon HaRa].

Additionally, with the Help of HaShem Yisbarach, we have toiled [in] compiling many strategies and [pieces of] advice from the words of our Sages of Blessed Memory [which instruct the individual of the methods he can employ] to save himself from this snare of the Yetzer [HaRa, when he incites a person to commit a] sin [involving] the tongue. Perhaps, through this [advice included in the second section of this book], each person will make certain to become wise in this area [of the laws of speech, and] strengthen himself over his Yetzer HaRa, and remove all the factors that distract him from [attaining] the holy trait of Shmiras HaLashon. [This advice is collected in the second section of this volume. Due to its edifying nature], we have entitled the second section “Sha'ar HaTevunah” - “The Gate of Understanding”. The [named given to the second section] is based on the [following] pasuk: “And the understanding one shall acquire strategies.”[12](Mishlei: 1; 5) I have also clarified [numerous] other holy qualities in this [second] section. These [qualities discussed in the second section] are also critical to the conduct of the “man who desires life”[13]; through [these qualities], it will be easy for [the individual] to attain the trait of Shmiras HaLashon. [The above] will all be explained in the first two sections of this [second] volume.

Furthermore, we have introduced another section in this volume. This third section, [titled] “The Gate of Torah,” subsumes all of the “gates”, as our Sages of Blessed Memory [have said in maseches Nedarim (41a)]: “If [Torah] is lacking, what has been acquired? And if [Torah] is acquired, what is lacking? ([Based on the above teaching, we learn that Torah] likewise benefits “the man who desires life”. This [follows that which] our sages have said [in maseches Arachin (15b)]: “What is the remedy for the habitual speaker of Lashon HaRa? If [the person] is a Talmid Chacham[14], he should involve himself with Torah….”) The great reward for the person who sanctifies his speech with Torah, the reward for one who raises his children [to involve themselves in] the Torah, as well as numerous other correlated topics are explained in [this third section].

With the Help of HaShem Yisbarach, because this volume discusses many topics that are very essential for the Jewish man to know and fulfill, it is exceedingly dear to me. [Therefore], I have coined a name for it. It shall be called “Shmiras HaLashon” - “Guarding the Tongue”, based on the pasuk [in Mishlei (21, 23)][15]: “One who guards his mouth and his tongue…”.

[1] Yeshayahu – Refers to the Book of Isaiah. Yeshayahu was one of the prophets during the time of the first Beis HaMikdash (Jewish Temple in Jerusalem).

[2] Yetzer HaRa is the “evil inclination”. This entity also serves as the main prosecuting angel (Satan) and the Angel of Death (Malach HaMaves).

[3] The Zohar is a classical mystical interpretation of the Pentateuch consisting of Tanaitic teachings (dating back approximately 2,000 years).

[4] This teaching can be found in
Sha'ar HaZechirah - chapters 2 and 7.

[5] The whole pasuk reads as follows,
(מחשבות בעצה תכון ובתחבלות עשה מלחמה:" (משלי: כ, יח" – “Establish your thoughts with council, and employ strategies when making war:” RaSh"I explains, “If you have come to fight against the Satan, come with strategies of Teshuvah (repentance), Tefillah (prayer), and Tzedakah (charity).

Merkaz HaSefer” printing of sefer Shmiras HaLashon” quotes a different, though similar, pasuk fromMishlei”, which states, “For [you shall] make war for yourself with [the use of] strategies, [and salvation comes with the greatness.]” (Mishlei: 24; 6)

On this pasuk, Metzudas David explains that through mental tricks (strategies), that person can overcome the Yetzer HaRa which entices the person to sin.

[6] “This third volume” refers to this work, sefer
Shmiras HaLashon, published concomitantly with sefer Chofetz Chaim which consists of the first two volumes: Hilchos Lashon HaRa and Hilchos Rechilus.

[7] Literally “The Name, may He be blessed.” This refers to the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe. This is not to say that we are benefiting HaShem by blessing Him. Rather, the term “HaShem Yisbarach” indicates that we pray that there should be an ever greater appreciation among all His creations that He is the source of all blessings.

[8] AggadosAggada, meaning narration, refers to non-legal Talmudic era rabbinic literature. Aggados is the plural form of Aggada.

Shas is the complete order of the Talmud, which stand for Shishah Sedarim – “Six Orders” of the Talmud.

[10] Midrashim
Midrash refers to the Talmudic-era rabbinic literature organized into anthologies of biblical interpretation. Midrashim is the plural form of Midrash.

[11] Miriam is the sister of the Biblical Moses.

[12] The whole pasuk reads: "ישמע חבם ויוסף לקח ונבון תחבלות י קנה".
(Mishlei: 1; 5) This is translated as: “The wise one will hear and will increase reward, and the understanding one will acquire strategies.” On this pasuk, several commentators (MaLBI"M, Metzudas Tzion, and RaLBa"G) explain “strategies” (תחבולות) as referring to the precision of thought required for analytical learning. The “understanding one” (נבון) is more advanced than the “wise one” (חכם), for the wise individual attains his wisdom solely from the knowledge of others, while the understanding one is on a level where he can correctly apply prior knowledge to understand his current studies. Thus, by quoting from this pasuk, the Chofetz Chaim is explaining that the reader will be able to apply knowledge attained through learning “The Gate of Understanding” to diverse, often complicated, life situations, and will know how to respond as a Jew should. This capability to apply one’s learning to life-situations will, G-d willing, provide the individual with soul-saving strategies for the war against Lashon HaRa.

[13] This quote is found in Tehillim (34; 13).

[14] Talmid Chacham is a Torah scholar (lit. “wise student”).

[15] The full verse reads, "שמר פיו ולשונו שמר מצרות נפשו" “One who guards his mouth and tongue guards from troubles of his soul.” (Mishlei: 21; 23) The RaLBa"G explains that the sin of speaking forbidden words brings troubles upon the individual.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon: ג תשרי - Tishrei 3 - Third Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

It is known that one who regularly accustoms himself to [perform] this sin [of Lashon HaRa, will find it] difficult to develop any remedy [for the spiritual harm that he inflicts upon himself], Heaven Forbid. This [follows that which] our Sages of Blessed Memory have said, [as follows], that in the future, everyone will be healed except for habitual speakers of Lashon HaRa. Therefore, the [soul of the] habitual speaker of Lashon HaRa is destined to suffer great and unending embarrassment on account [of this sin]. (Refer to Chapter 5 [where] we have quoted from the Midrash (Devarim Rabba, Section 6, subsection 14), [as follows])[1] : “Rabbi Shimon said, ‘Just as Miriam… those evildoers who intentionally speak Lashon Haa about their fellows, to cut their lives short, how much more so will The Holy One, Blessed is He, cut off their tongues. [The above teaching follows that which] it says [in Tehillim (12, 4)]: “HaShem shall cut off all [of] the cunning lips….”[2]

This consequence [of the sin of forbidden speech], is termed “suffering of the soul” [and is a] more appropriate [type of suffering] than any other type of suffering, for, through it, the speaker’s completeness, by which he is called “the soul of the person”, due to the power of speech inherent within him, is ruined. [The above teaching follows that which] RaSh"I notes on his commentary in Parshas Bereishis (2, 7)[3]. [In reference to saving oneself from punishment due to forbidden speech], it is written [in seferMishlei” (21; 23)], “One who guards his mouth and tongue...” - meaning in this world, “...guards himself against suffering of the soul”. Dovid HaMelech[4], Peace be upon him, similarly had the above intent when focusing on this specific [trait of guarding ones tongue], since [proper observance of this mitzvah] serves a great benefit for one’s eternal life. (For a further discussion [of the above teaching], see that which we write in the first volume of [sefer] Shmiras HaLashon”, [in] chapters 4 and 5).

[1] “Rabbi Shimon said, ‘Just as Miriam the Righteous, did not intend to speak Lashon HaRa, and rather spoke for the sake of propagating mankind, [nevertheless] experienced such consequences (i.e. temporary tzara'as leprosy and isolation). How much more so, those evildoers who will intentionally speak Lashon HaRa [against] their fellows, to cut short their lives, will have their tongues cut off by The Holy One, Blessed is He...”

[2] The entire pasuk reads, “HaShem shall cut off all the cunning lips, the tongue that speaks with import.” The exegesis of the Midrash is dependant on the omitted phrase; because the wicked habitually use their tongues with the intent to harm their fellows, [i.e. they speak with import], HaShem will sever that instrument of destruction.”

[3] RaSh"I comments on the phrase “l'nefesh
chaya” - “for a living soul”, that even wild animals and cattle are referred to as a “a living soul”. However, the person superior in that the individual possesses the added capabilities of speech and intelligence.

[4] Dovid HaMelech is King David.