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 06, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon י"ט שבט - Shevat 19 - One-Hundred-and-Thirty-Eighth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

There are certain individuals [for whom] the reason for their having become habituated [in the] sin [of Lashon HaRa] results from their saying [that what they are involving themselves in] is [a] permitted [type of behavior. In our context], the Yetzer HaRa causes such people to err, [suggesting] that this matter [in which they involve themselves], does not fall within the category of Lashon HaRa. Or, [the Yetzer HaRa would suggest] that concerning such a person [as the individual who is the subject of the Lashon HaRa], The Torah does not command [us] with the prohibition of Lashon HaRa. On the contrary, [the Yetzer HaRa will encourage the person to speak the Lashon HaRa by claiming that], for a given reason, it is a mitzvah to deride [such a person].

In reality, just about a majority of people stumble in [the sin of] Lashon HaRa due to this deficiency, [in our case we are dealing with a situation where the given individual] lacks a knowledge [of the laws of Lashon HaRa]. Behold, concerning such a deficiency, there is no advice [to offer], other than that [the person] should first learn all manners of [the] details of the laws of Lashon HaRa, [so that] he will have a clear knowledge of the laws [pertaining to Lashon HaRa, and will be aware of] of the [boundaries within which the] power of Lashon HaRa applies according to the halacha. [To learn more concerning the situations when the laws of Lashon HaRa apply, review that which] we have explained in seferChofetz Chaim”, in volume 1, in sections 4 and 5.[1]

In reality, [the aforementioned] advice [to learn the laws of Lashon HaRa], is practically the most beneficial of all [of the suggestions offered to assist those who are uneducated in the laws of Lashon HaRa. The above advice] is not only [of great benefit] concerning the matter of Lashon HaRa, for [this piece of advice applies to] every single mitzvah [concerning which the person] stumbles in its [performance] on a number of occasions, to the extent that the [person becomes habituated in that given sin and the] Yetzer HaRa is [thereby] made [to] rule over him in respect to this [given mitzvah. The above advice that we offer] is not new, for it is included in the advice [offered to us in] The Torah, [that piece of advice being] written for us in the chapter of tzitzis, [as follows]: “…and you shall see [the tzitzis fringes] and you shall remember all of the commandments of HaShem and you shall perform them…”[2] (Bamidbar: 15; 39) [Our discussion follows] RaSh”I’s commentary [on that pasuk where RaSh”I explains[3]] that remembering [the commandments] leads to performance [of the commandments. In other words, the person] should learn the laws [pertaining to the mitzvah] in which he stumbles in [its observance], in great depth, [learning] all of the details of [the given] law, and [then] review [the details of this law] a number of times, and he will thereby have this [mitzvah] embedded well in his memory. [Another benefit to learning and reviewing the law in which the person has stumbled, is that in respect to the given sin] the power of the Yetzer HaRa will be removed from him. [The above follows that which is taught] in “Midrash Rabbah”, [on] parshasNaso”, [as follows]: “If you have invested a great deal of exertion in [the] words [of the Sages, then, as a result], The Holy One, Blessed is He, removes the Yetzer HaRa from you.” (Bamidbar Rabbah: 14; 4)

[1] In the fourth section of the first volume of seferChofetz Chaim”, the Chofetz Chaim explains the parameters of the laws of Lashon HaRa as it applies to the situations when it is permitted and when it is forbidden to speak concerning an individual who transgresses Torah laws that are Bein Adam LaMakom – laws that relate directly to the person’s relationship with HaShem. The fifth section deals with the situations when one is permitted or forbidden to speak against an individual who has transgressed a mitzvah that relates to the person’s relationship between himself and his fellow.

[2] The entire section of tzitzis, states as follows:

“And HaShem said to Moshe, saying: ‘Speak to The B’nei Yisrael and you shall say to them, and they shall make tzitzis [fringes] for themselves on the edges of their clothing for their generations, and you shall place t’cheiles on the tzitzis [fringes that are on the] edges: And the tzitzis [fringes] shall be for you 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 hearts and your eyes which you stray after them: In order that you shall remember and that you shall perform all of My commandments and you shall be holy to your G-d: I am HaShem your G-d, that I took you out from the Land of Egypt to be G-d for you, I am HaShem your G-d:” (Bamidbar: 15; 37 – 41)
This explanation is not found in RaSh”I, though the source of the teaching is found in masechesM’nachos” (43b), which states as follows:

“Another Baraisa [teaches]: ““…And you shall see it and you shall remember all of the commandments of HaShem…” (Bamidbar: 15; 39) Once a person is obligated [to perform] this commandment, he is obligated [to perform] all of the commandments. [The above teaching accords with] Rabbi Shimon, for [Rabbi Shimon] said, ‘[The mitzvah of tzitzis] is a time-bound positive commandment.’” (RaSh”I – Therefore, since males are obligated in the mitzvah of tzitzis from the time they turn thirteen (bar-mitzvah), they are obligated in all mitzvos, this being in contrast to women who are exempt from the mitzvah of tzitzis as they are exempt from time-bound positive commandments.)

We learn in another Baraisa: ““…And you shall see them and you shall remembere all of the commandments of HaShem…” (Bamidbar: 15; 39) – This mitzvah is equivalent to all of the mitzvos.”

We learn in another Baraisa: “…And you shall see [the tzitzis] and they shall remember [all of the commandments of HaShem] and they shall perform [them]…” (Bamidbar: 15; 39) [From here we learn that] seeing [the tzitzis fringes] brings [the person] to remembering [the mitzvos, and] remembering [the mitzvos] brings [one to] performing [them]. Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai says, ‘[Concerning] all of those who are particular with this mitzvah [of tzitzis], merits and receives The Countenance of The Shechinah, for it is written over here, “…And you shall see – u’ri’eisem – וראיתם – them…” (Bamidbar: 15; 39), and it is written over there [in parshasVa’Eschanan”], “Fear – תירא – HaShem your G-d…”” (M’nachos, 43b) RaSh”I explains that just as the second pasuk discusses The Shechinah, so too does the first quoted pasuk. Though in the pasuk that deals with the mitzvah of tzitizis, the word is translated as “and you shall see” and in the pasuk in parshasVa’Eschanan” it is translated as “fear”, the root of both of these words is the same – ירא – and therefore a connection could be made between the two p’sukim.

It is important to note that RaSh”I quoted the teaching immediately prior to the one that discusses how remembering the mitzvos leads to their performance, which notes that the mitzvah of tzitzis is equivalent in importance to all of the other mitzvos. RaSh”I did not quote the teaching that remembering the mitzvos leads to their performance.

[3] This section from Bamidbar Rabbah states as follows:

“Another explanation: “…and involve [yourself in the words of Torah, wearying the flesh.]” (Koheles: 12; 12) (Based on the explanation of Targum Yonasan ben Uziel) If you have greatly wearied yourself in the words [of the Torah Sages, then] The Holy One, Blesseds is He, removes the Yetzer HaRa from your midst, this being that which is written, “…wearying of the flesh” (Koheles: 12; 12), [this relates to that which is written], “…and I shall give you a heart of flesh.”” (Yechezkel: 36; 26)

According to MaHaRe”I KR”A, the “heart of flesh” refers to the Yetzer HaTov (the good inclination), while “the heart of stone” that is referred to earlier in the pasuk, which is removed, is explained by Targum Yonasan ben Uziel, to be “the heart of wickedness which is as heard as stone”. In our context, we learn based on this pasuk and the pasuk quoted above from “Koheles”, that the Yetzer HaRa is removed from the person who wearies himself in the study of Torah.

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