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, March 03, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon כ"בּ אדר - Adar 22 - One-Hundred-and-Seventy-First Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

(During a Jewish leap-year: 7 Adar II - בִּשְׁנַת הָעִיבּוּר - ז אדר בּ)

Furthermore, [concerning lack of involvement in Torah study], our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in masechesBirachos” (63a), as follows]: “[Concerning] all of those who grow lax [from involvement in the study of] the words of Torah, [such people] do not possess [the] power to stand on the day of trouble, as it says [in “Mishlei”], “You have made yourself lax, on the day of trouble, your power will be diminished.”[1] (Mishlei: 24; 10)”[2]

[The following teaching is] brought in The Holy “Zohar[3], on this pasuk [from seferMishlei”, as follows]: “At the time that a person grows lax from [his involvement in the study of] The Torah and goes on paths which are not appropriate, a number of haters are readied in opposition to him, to be prosecutors against him (on the day of trouble). Even the soul of the person, it being his power, will become a hater in opposition to him, concerning which it is written [in seferMishlei”], “…Your strength has been diminished”. [The beginning of the pasuk states], “You have made yourself lax”, [to teach that] one who weakens his hands from The Holy One, Blessed is He, to not grasp onto The Holy One, Blessed is He, [will have dimished power on the day of trouble]. How is a person capable of grasping onto The Holy One, Blessed is He? One who grasps onto The Torah grasps onto The Tree of Life, and gives strength to HaShem’s Divine Presence[4], and there are many advocates who stand over [this individual in order] to mention him for [that which is] good…”[5]

Furthermore, [the following teaching] is brought in [“Pirkei] Avos” (Chapter 3, Mishna 8): “Rabbi Meir says, [concerning] all of those who forget one thing from their learning, the verse considers it as if they area liable with their life, as it says [in ParshasVaEschanan”], “Only guard yourselves and guard your soul exceedingly…”[6][7] (Divarim: 4; 9)

[1] The pasuk states, “התרפית ביום צרה, צר כחכה”. It is because the person “has become lax on a day of trouble – צרה – tzarah” that, midah k’neged midah, “their power has been diminished – צר – tzar” – both words coming from the same root.

Rabbeinu Yonah in “Sha’arei Teshuvah” (Sha’ar 3; 70), explains that this pasuk from “Mishlei” is teaching that if the person has the ability to rescue the property of his fellow Jew or to act toward rescuing his life, either through offering advice or through concrete action, but nevertheless acts as if he doesn’t possess the capability and power to assist his fellow, such a person’s power will be diminished, midah k’neged midah (measure-for-measure). Rabbeinu Yonah then quotes the pasuk from “Mishlei”, in this context, which states, “If you will say, ‘We were unaware of this [matter]’, isn’t it that [HaShem] who examines the hearts, He will understand, and The One Who guards your soul, He shall know, and He will recompense to the person in accordance with his actions”. (Mishlei: 24; 12) (See Targum Yonasan ben Uziel) Rabbeinu Yonah explains, based on this pasuk, that HaShem considers the inaction of the person at the time when he should have acted to protect his fellow (or his property), as if he actually actively sinned, and would be punished for such inaction.

The previous pasuk from “Mishlei”, states, “Rescue those who are being taken out to death, and spare those who are being taken out to be killed”. (Mishlei: 24; 11)

RaSh”I explains this pasuk as teaching that if the person weakens themselves from involvement in Torah study, therefore the Ministering Angels will not strengthen that person’s power. Alternatively, if the person doesn’t take action when necessary, to perform that which is good, then their strength can be diminished on a day of suffering. The above is evident from that which Mordechai warned Ester, when he told her that if she would remain silent that it would be her who would suffer, while HaShem would bring the salvation of The Jewish People from another source and Mordechai then says, “‘…and who knows if it is for this moment that you have attained royalty’” (Ester: 4; 14) Mordechai is telling Ester that HaShem had given her the power that comes with being the queen for a reason, and now that she is in this unique position, she should beseech Achashverosh on behalf of saving The Jewish People from Haman’s planned destruction of The B’nei Yisrael.

[2] This teaching is taught by Rav Tavi in the name of Rav Oshaya.

[3] This teaching from The “Zohar” is found in volume 1 on 174b.

[4] This means that HaShem makes His Shechinah appear to be stronger as a result of the person’s involvement in Torah study, whereby he grasps onto The Torah.

[5] This teaching from The “Zohar” is taught by Rabbi Yehuda, while the last teaching, concerning advocates is taught in the name of Rabbi Abba.

[6] The entire pasuk states, “Only guard yourself, and guard your soul exceedingly, lest you forget the words that your eyes saw, and lest they shall be removed from your eyes, all of the days of your life, and you shall inform them to your children and to your children’s children”. (Divarim: 4; 9)

RaSh”I comments that, as it says earlier (4; 5 – 6), “‘See I have taught you ordinances (i.e. laws for which the reason is unknown by people) and laws, as HaShem my G-d has commanded me, to act in such a manner, in the midst of The Land, to which you are coming there to inherit it. And you shall guard them and you shall perform them, for it is your wisdom and your understanding before the eyes of the nations, that they shall hear all of these ordinances and shall say, ‘Only a wise and understanding nation, this great People’’.” RaSh”I notes that when we do not forget The Torah that we have learned, and shall perform the mitzvos in the appropriate manner, then you will be considered wise and understanding. However, if we would perform the mitzvos in an inappropriate manner due to having forgotten some of that which we have learned from The Torah, we would be considered to be fools.

[7] The mishna from “Pirkei Avos” states as follows:

“Rabbi Dostai bar Yanai, in the name of Rabbi Meir, said: ‘The pasuk considers all of those who have forgotten one matter from their learning, as if he is liable for death, as it is written [in parshasVaEschanan”], “Only guard yourself, and guard your soul exceedingly, lest you forget the words which your eyes have seen…” (Divarim: 4; 9) Perhaps [the above is true] even if [one forgot] his learning against his will (as the learning was difficult for him – RaSh”I)? The pasuk [therefore] states, “…and lest you remove them from your heart all the days of your lifetime…” (4; 9) [The person who forgets some of The Torah which he has learned] is not liable with his life until he intentionally forgets [the Torah which he has learned].’”

Rabbeinu Yonah explains that the punishment discussed in the mishna is due to the person not having not paid attention to that which he learned, which could lead him to be more susceptible to forgetting The Torah that he had studied, as forgetfulness is common among people. In light of the possibility of forgetting the halacha, the person should have reviewed the halacha a number of times, to contemplate in the study of The Torah all day and all night, so that it will not be able to be removed from his heart. As such a person did not do the above, he is consequently liable with his life, because he can come to teach Torah based on his memory and will quote Torah in the name of his Rebbi and come to teach that that which is forbidden is permitted and vice-versa. Such a person is referred to “a willful sinner”, as “negligence in Torah study is considered a willful sin”. (Pirkei Avos: 4; 13 – Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi) However, if someone forget their Torah learning as a result of forgetfulness due to old age or something else beyond the person’s control, then they are not liable with their lives for having forgotten their Torah learning. In “Sha’arei Teshuvah” (Sha’ar 3, 28), where Rabbeinu Yonah discusses this mishna from “Pirkei Avos”, he also quotes from the gemara in masechesMinachos” (99b), where Ravina teaches that one who forgets his Torah learning transgresses two prohibitions. The person is only considered to be liable with his life if he removes The Torah that he has learned from his heart as a consequence of being idle from Torah study by not constantly involving himself in Torah.

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