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, January 27, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon ד אדר - Adar 4 - One-Hundred-and-Fifty-Third Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

It is written in “Chovas HaLivavos[1] that it is fitting for a person to internalize in his heart that if he were to receive a book from a king of flesh and blood, and was doubtful in his understanding of [what was written in] it [due to the] form and fineness of its writing, or [due to] the depth of [its] language, he will then be greatly troubled until he will understand [that which is written in this book] and will focus his entire heart and mind toward understanding [it]. If [the person] would act in such a manner concerning a book [written by a king] of flesh and blood, who is here today and in the grave tomorrow, it is all the more [appropriate for him to conduct himself in such a manner] with respect to [The Torah, it being] The Book of The Holy One, Blessed is He, which is his life and his salvation, as it is written in [ParshasVayeilech”, as follows]: “…For it is your life and the length of your days…”[2] (Divarim: 30; 20)

Behold, many people stumble in [the aforementioned] sin, [that being that] they invest all of [the abilities within] their power [in order] to [attain the potential of] their understanding of concerning the laws [instituted by] a king of flesh and blood, [though they are] lax [with respect to learning] The Law[3] of The King of kings, The Holy One, Blessed is He. [The above] relates to that which is stated [in seferDaniel”, as follows]: “…and you have praised gods of silver and gold, copper, wood, and stone, who do not see and do not hear and do not know, and you did not glorify G-d Who is in possession of your soul and all of your ways are His.”[4] (Daniel: 5; 23)

Our Sages of Blessed Memory[5] have also said [in the Talmud Yirushalmi, [in] masechesChagigah” (Chapter 1; Halacha 7), as follows]: “The Holy One, Blessed is He, has forgiven for the sin of idolatry, [for the sin of] sexual immorality, and [for the sin of] murder. [However], He has not forgiven for the sin of [being] idle from Torah [study], as it says [in seferYirmiyahu”]: “…For what reason was The Land destroyed? And HaShem said, ‘For abandoning My Torah which I have given before them.”[6]” (Yirmiyahu: 9; 11 – 12)

Since there are a number of people in reference to whom the sin of bittul Torah[7] has become neglected, [in that] they spend all of their time [involved] in nonsense, and do not consider this to be a sin at all, [consequently], one sin leads to another sin, for [as a result of their being derelict in their study of The Torah], they do not [support and encourage] their sons [to involve themselves] in Torah [study], and the mountains of the world have thereby declined[8].

[Concerning the decline in the recognition of the importance and centrality of The Torah, I have [come to the conclusion that I would] copy down [a few] of the [teachings] of our Sages of Blessed Memory, [that discuss] the extent of the reward [that one receives] for Torah study, [both] in this [world] and in [The World] to Come. In contrast, [these teachings also discuss of] the extent of [the person’s] punishment, Heaven Forbid, [if he would remain idle from involvement in Torah study]. Perhaps, as a result of [these teachings, people] will be somewhat aroused to strengthen [themselves in involvement] in [their study of] The Torah of HaShem.

Chovos HaLivavos was written by Rabbi Bachay ibn Pakuda.

Note from the Hebrew
Kol HaLashon” printing: This teaching is found in the Gate of “Cheshbon HaNefesh”, chapter 3, beginning with the words “And the fifth…”.

[2] This section of The Torah states, “I testify today to The Heaven and The Earth, concerning you, I have placed life and death before you, the blessing and the curse, and you shall choose life, in order that you and your children shall live. To love HaShem your G-d, to listen to His Voice and to cling to Him, for it [i.e. The Torah] is your life and the length of your days, to live on The Land that HaShem has sworn to your forefathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Ya’akov, to give it to them.” (Divarim: 30; 19 – 20)

Targum Yonasan ben Uziel teaches that it is The Torah that is one’s life in this world and the length of his days in The World to Come. As RaSh”I notes, HaShem is telling us to choose the good portion, the portion of life (i.e. The Torah).

[3] “The Law” of HaShem refers to The Torah.

[4] This pasuk discusses Daniel telling King Belshazzar of his improper conduct. Shortly thereafter, Daniel interprets a sign that is given to Belshazzar, in that his kingdom of Chaldea would be given over to Persia and Media. (Daniel: 5; 24 – 28) That night, Belshazzar was killed. (5; 29)

This pasuk states, “And you have glorified yourself over The Master of [The] Heaven, and the vessels of His House (i.e. The Beis HaMikdash) were brought before you, and you and your nobles, and your consorts and your concubines. You have drank wine in [these vessels], and you have praied gods of silver and of gold, [of] copper, bronze, wood, and stone, who do not see and do not hear and do not know, [however] you did not glorify The G-d Who possesses your soul and all of your ways are His.” (Daniel: 5; 23)

[5] This teaching is quoted by Rabbi Yirmiyah, in the name of Rabbi Shmuel, the son of Rabbi Yitzchak.

[6] The p’sukim state, “Who is the man who is wise and will understand this, and to whom The Mouth of HaShem spoke, and shall relate [concerning] the reason that The Land [of Israel] was destroyed, becoming desolate like the desert, without passerby. And HaShem said, ‘[It is] concerning their having abandoned My Torah that I have given before them, and they did not listen to My Voice, and did not go in [the ways of The Torah].” (Yirmiyahu: 9; 11 – 12)

[7] “Bittul Torah” means “idleness from Torah [study]”. This can refer to the times that the person allots to study Torah, as he is obligated to do, and he nevertheless is idle from the study of Torah. If a person involves himself in that which is not essential instead of learning Torah, he is considered to be idle from Torah study.

[8] The decline of the mountains of the world is ostensibly a reference to Torah scholars who continually decline in stature as the generations proceed, due to the absence of proper encouragement of the children to involve themselves in Torah study.

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