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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shmiras HaLashon ט"ו שבט - Shevat 15 - One-Hundred-and-Thirty-Fourth Day

© 2007 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[Just as one is capable of controlling his evil inclination], so too is the same true [concerning] our matter [of being careful to avoid speaking Lashon HaRa]. For if the [individual] will [focus] his eyes and his heart on his actions, and he will be agreeable to guard the openings of his mouth, [to the extent] that he will only open [his mouth when] necessary, and [will be cautious] to abstain from speaking [that which is] evil and deceitful, [such a person] will definitely not fall short in [his observance of the prohibition against Lashon HaRa. The aforementioned relates to the following teaching from masechesYoma”]: “One who comes to purify himself [is] assisted [towards becoming purified].”[1] (Yoma, 38b) [The teaching from masechesYoma” follows that which] our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in “Tanna D’Vei Eliyahu[2], as follows]: “If a person wants to become a tzaddik, The Holy One, Blessed is He, sends him an angel that deals with him as would a righteous individual. If a person wants to become pious, The Holy One, Blessed is He, sends him an angel that deals with him in the manner that a pious individual would [relate to him].”[3]

[Concerning] that which our Sages of Blessed Memory have said in [masechesBava Basra” (165a)]: “Everyone [stumbles in the sin of] Lashon HaRa”, they have immediately concluded [this teaching by stating the following]: “Do you really think [that everyone stumbles in the sin of] Lashon HaRa? Rather, [we mean to] say that [everyone stumbles in the sin of] Avak Lahshon HaRa. [In his commentary on the above teaching], the MaHaRSh”A wrote [that] even [in reference to] Avak [Lashon HaRa, concerning] which [our Sages] have said “Everyone [stumbles in the sin of [Avak] Lashon HaRa”, [the above] refers only to [those people] who [are not cautious to] focus their eyes and their hearts on their speech. [Such people allow their speech to follow] its natural course [and the gemara refers to] all of [these people when it says that they] will definitely stumble [in the sin of Avak Lashon HaRa. The sin of Avak Lashon HaRa] is not similar to robbery and sexual immorality, for even if [the person] were [to allow himself to follow] his natural [inclinations], he will [nevertheless], at times, be able to rescue himself from these [sins] for a given period of time, this not being [true of] Lashon HaRa, as it is dependant on his [power of] speech. However, [though it might appear otherwise from a casual examination of the text of the gemara, it is evident from the commentary of the MaHaRSh”A, that] our Sages of Belssed Memory did not intend to say that the person is completely incapable of saving himself from [the sin of] Avak Lashon HaRa, Heaven Forbid. [For more on the topic concerning the person’s ability to avoid speaking Lashon HaRa, refer to] the introduction, [where] we have explained this matter [at] length.[4]

[1] We see from this teaching found in masechesYoma”, that the individual is expected to invest a real effort to purify himself, in this context by refraining from involvement in Lashon HaRa. By making an effort to properly follow The Torah, the person will be provided Heavenly assistance to succeed in purifying himself and thereby successfully overcome his negative inclinations. Based on this teaching, the person should always understand that no matter how difficult it may seem to properly fulfill a given mitzvah, he should not give up, but rather should invest the requisite effort in accordance with his abilities, and he will succeed in his goal.

[2] This teaching is found in the third chapter of Eliyahu Zuta.

[3] This teaching from “Eliyahu Zuta” continues by discussing different types of angels who are sent to the person to assist them toward their intended goal, whether their goal is to become righteous, pious, evil, or of average behavior. This section notes that the angel who assists the person who is working to become righteous, acts in a manner befitting of a righteous individual and this angel speaks the truth, by acting in such a manner, this angel thereby assists the person in his quest to become righteous. The above is true of the individual who wishes to become pious who is sent a “pious angel”, as well as is the case with the person who wishes to become evil, he being sent an angel that behaves in a manner resembling an evil person.

From this teaching from “Eliyahu Zuta”, we see that the person is encouraged to continue on the path that he has chosen for himself, whether it be good or for evil. This teaching follows that which is taught in “Sha’arei Teshuvah” that a person’s habits rule over him, it often being difficult for a person to overcome his habits, whether for the good or for the evil.

[4] This teaching that the Chofetz Chaim refers the reader to, can be found on the 6th – 8th days of Tishrei. On the 6th day of Tishrei, the Chofetz Chaim quotes from “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson” where he brings forth the claim of the Yetzer HaRa that the person should distance himself from those things which are limitless, such as the prohibition against Lashon HaRa which constantly applies. On the 7th day of Tishrei, the Chofetz Chaim quotes the GR”A who points out the awesome reward that one attains from refraining from speaking Lashon HaRa even for a short period of time. On the 8th day of Tishrei, the Chofetz Chaim refutes the claim of the Yetzer HaRa that one can only refrain from speaking Lashon HaRa for a short period of time and explains that it is within the person’s capability to emerge victorious over his Yetzer HaRa and regularly refrain from speaking Lashon HaRa.

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