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, February 07, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon י"ד אדר - Adar 14 - One-Hundred-and-Sixty-Third Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

(During a Jewish leap-year: 29 Adar I - בִּשְׁנַת הָעִיבּוּר - כ"ט אדר א)

[In addition to removing the yoke of the government and the yoke of earning a livelihood from upon the person], The Torah [that one studies] also protects the person [in that] it saves him from the punishment of gehinnom, even though he had sinned. [The above teaching can be demonstrated through a] kal va’chomer[1] from Elisha Acher[2], [concerning whom our Rabbis] have [taught in masechesChagigah”, as follows]: “Once Acher passed away, they said, ‘He shall not be judged and he shall not enter The World to Come.’ (Chagigah, 15b) “He shall not be judged” – for he involved himself in Torah [study], “…and he shall not enter The World to Come” – because he sinned.” Furthermore, it is [taught] in “Aggadas Mishlei” (Shocher Tov, Parsha 10), [as follows]: “[Acts of] righteousness[3] does not rescue [one] from the judgment of gehinnom, rather, only Torah [rescues one from the judgment of gehinnom].” The fathers of the world respond: “Since you have been trapped in the fortress of The Day of Judgment, [your] only [recourse] is to sit and involve yourselves in [the study of] words of Torah, for [it is Torah study that] atones for sin.”[4] [Our Sages] have also [taught in masechesChagigah”, as follows]: “The fire of gehinnom does not have power over Torah scholars. [The above teaching can be demonstrated from a] kal va’chomer concerning a salamandra[5], it being a byproduct of the fire (once one burns fire in one spot for seven years, from [that place, an animal] is created with the appearance of a mouse, and it is called a salamandraRaSh”I). Lubricate [something] from its blood, [and] fire has no power over it. How much more so [does fire have no power over] Torah scholars, for their entire body is fire, as it says [in seferYirmiyahu”], “Are My words not like fire, so says HaShem…”[6] (Yirmiyahu: 23; 29)”[7]

[1] A “Kal Va’Chomer” is an a fortiori argument.

[2] Elisha “Acher” was a great Torah scholar who became an apikorus (apostate) after seeing the angel Met-at-ron and thinking that there were really two gods, though, in fact he erred, as Met-at-ron one of HaShem’s angels “second to The King”, as recorded in the introduction to “Tikkunei Zohar” (15a).

[3] MaLBI”M explains that in every place in TaNa”Ch where the term “tzidakah” is used, it refers to good actions performed (mitzvos) between man and HaShem (bein adam LaMakom). (See the MaLBI”M’s explanation of words on “Mishlei” (10; 2), where he quotes “Yishayahu” (1; 21) as an example of this.) As the text of “Shocher Tov” seems to work best with this usage of “tzidakah”, the translation “acts of righteousness” has been used instead of “charity”. RaSh”I, for example, explains “Mishlei” (10; 2) as teaching that “tzidakah” refers to “charity”.

[4] The text from MidrashShocher Tov” on seferMishlei”, states as follows:

“Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa said, ‘Charity doesn’t save one from the judgement of gehinnom, except Torah itself, therefore it says, “And charity saves from death…” (Mishlei: 10; 2), for it possesses the power to save one from The Day of Judgement. Is it possible that even if a person is liable in a sinful matter those [acts of righteousness] saves him on The Day of Judgement? It says in the pasuk, “A righteous person is rescued from trouble, and the evildoer will come in his place.” (Mishlei: 11; 8) We have a source that if a Torah scholar performs a sin that he is saved on The Day of Judgement. What is the source for a completely righteous person [to be saved from The Day of Judgement]? Rabbi Akiva said, ‘You don’t have to say [anything], for it is their [good] actions which rescue them, as it says, “The righteousness of the upright ones shall save them…” (Mishlei: 11; 6)’ Why is it [the case that the actions of the righteous save them] to such an extent? [This] is due to the merit of The Torah which is compared to charity and to life, as it says, “Just as one who performs acts of righteousness [is guarded for] life, and one who pursues evil [is guarded for] death.” (Mishlei: 11; 19) Is there really such a person who pursues evil and death? Rather, [the aforementioned refers to] one who makes his days great without Torah.”

[5] The “Turei Even” quotes the “Tanchuma” on parshasVaYeishev” which teaches that the salamandra is similar to the mouse. The “Turei Even” also quotes the ninth chapter of masechesChullin” as teaching that the salamandra is a type of lizard. He also quotes masechesSanhedrin” (63b) where it teaches that Chizkiyahu’s mother lubricated him with the blood of the salamandra to ensure that he wouldn’t be burnt in fire, because his father, King Achaz, sought to burn him in fire to the idol Molech. RaSh”I on this gemara points out that we only see recorded that Achaz had Chizkiyahu as a son and therefore it was he who was passed through the fire, though he was impervious to it because he had been lubricated with salamandra blood by his mother. (Milachim II: 16; 3)

[6] The entire pasuk from seferYirmiyahu” states, “Are My Words not like fire, so says HaShem, and as a hammer that breaks a rock”. (Yirmiyahu: 23; 29)

We learn in masechesTa’anis” (7a), that Rabbah bar bar Channah mentions this pasuk as comparing words of Torah to fire.

Targum Onkelos explains that “Are My Words not as strong as fire, so says HaShem…” MaHaR”I K’ra explains that The Words of HaShem are comparable to a fire, for just as a fire leaves a mark in the place it burns, so too do HaShem’s Words leave a mark.

[7] This teaching is quoted in the name of Rabbi Abahu.

RaSh”I quotes the example related to Acher who was a Torah scholar and explains that, as is taught in the Talmud Yirushalmi, a pillar of smoke rose from his grave and he suffered from the fires of gehinnom because he recognized his Master and rebelled against him. This teaching is in line with the teaching quoted above from masechesChagigah” (15b), as Acher originally was not judged in gehinnom, while, at the same time, he wasn’t able to enter The World to Come. It was only after Rabbi Meir died and interceded on behalf of Acher, that Acher was judged in gehinnom in order so that he would subsequently be enabled to enter The World to Come. The gemara records that when Rabbi Meir died, a pillar of smoke ascended from Acher’s grave, at which time he had entered gehinnom. Rabbi Yochanan said that Acher should be brought out of gehinnom. When Rabbi Yochanan died, the pillar of smoke ceased from the grave of Acher and he was taken out of gehinnom.

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