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

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon כ"ו אדר - Adar 26 - One-Hundred-and-Seventy-Fifth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

(During a Jewish leap-year: 11 Adar II - בִּשְׁנַת הָעִיבּוּר - י"א אדר בּ)

Rabbeinu Yonah wrote in “The Letter of Tishuvah[1], [as follows]: “When people cease from their work and from their affairs, and go to their houses, or they sit on the corners when they are idle[2], or they speak idle chatter, [then] their evil is [consequently of] great [magnitude], and their sin is very weighty, for, [by acting in such a manner], they are despising The Torah. [The people who use their free-time for idle purposes instead of involvement in Torah study, are despising The Torah], for if they would believe that there is no limit to the reward received [for involvement in Torah study, then] why do they not cause their feet to arrive at The Beis Midrash [in order] to study [Torah]? Since [it is the case that] the person is quick and hurries with his feet to his work and to his affairs, [though] he knows that it is all nonsense, [then] how could [such a person] forget the life of The World to Come and not apportion one day from [among] the days or one hour from [among] the hours [to set aside] for [Torah] study? [A person] should not [justify his present lack of involvement in Torah study by] saying in his heart [that] ‘There is yet more time to act [for the sake of] HaShem[3], to read [from] The Torah and to involve [myself] with mitzvos and righteous acts’. [Such a person] “…is guilty, he has certainly acted guiltily against HaShem.”[4] (Vayikra: 5; 19) In addition, our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in masechesSanhedrin” (99a)] on the pasuk [from parshasShilach”], “For he has scorned The Word of HaShem and he has negated His Commandment, that soul shall certainly be cut off, its sin is within it.” (Bamidbar: 15; 31) [From this pasuk we learn that] for as long as it is possible for [the person] to involve himself in Torah [study] and he doesn’t involve himself [in Torah study], he [thereby] despises The Word of HaShem.[5] Therefore, [in light of the above], every person is obligated to prepare a place in his house [in which] to learn halachos or mikrah[6], each person in accordance with his [level of proficiency in Torah study. By setting up a place in his house in which he can learn Torah, consequently], at the time that he will turn away from [involvement in] his affairs, and once he leaves his work, he will turn [to go] over [to this part of his home in order] to learn or to read [Torah. By initiating] this directive [of setting aside an area in his home for Torah study, the person] will [provide] wondrous council to his soul [that will help him to] withhold it from destruction[7]. [The individual] should consider his end, and understand [of] his conclusion, as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in “Pirkei Avos” (Chapter 3; Mishna 1), as follows]: “Focus on three things…”[8] It is also fitting for a person to fine himself with a full amount or half amount [of money, that he will] give [to] tzidakah for every day that he will neglect to go to the Beis Midrash and to the place where he placed one of the holy sifarim [for the purpose of] studying [Torah] in that [given] place.”

[1] Note from the “Kol HaLashon” Hebrew printing of seferShmiras HaLashon”: This teaching is found in “Iggeres HaTishuvah” – 13, pg. 194, in the Eshkol printing.

[2] “Yoshvei K’ranos” – “Those who sit on the corners”, refers to people who regularly waste their time with nonsense, by sitting with their friends “on the corners”, involved in idle matters, which often lead to sin.

[3] This text is based on the pasuk from seferTehillim”, which states, “It is a time to act for HaShem, they have [tried to] abolish Your Torah” (Tehillim: 119; 126)

The gemara in masechesBirachos” (54a), as is explained by RaSh”I, teaches that when Rav Nosson says that this pasuk from “Tehillim” teaches that “we negate The Torah, for the sake of a time to act for HaShem”, he is coming to teach us that there are certain times when the person can suspend his involvement in Torah study in order to do an action on behalf of HaShem, as is the case with inquiring of the wellbeing of one’s fellow, it being The Will of HaShem, as it says in “Tehillim” (39; 15). RaSh”I explains that the person would be performing an action that would appear to be forbidden, in that it negates from one’s involvement in Torah study, though is permitted due to the timeliness of involvement in that given action. However, for those actions which HaShem desires that we perform, in a situation where such action is warranted (i.e. it’s something that should be performed now as opposed to later), then it is permitted to stop one’s Torah study for the sake of the mitzvah which he must perform at that time. Obviously the person shouldn’t use the mitzvos as an excuse to go out of his way to perform the given mitzvah when such action is not essential to perform at that point in time, in order to interrupt his Torah study.

Rabbeinu Yonah, in his “Igeres HaTishuvah”, presents an individual who makes an invalid claim that he can hold off on involvement in Torah study, as there are other opportunities to learn Torah. However, we see based on RaSh”I, that the person can only hold off from his involvement in Torah study when there is a need for him to perform a particular mitzvah at that point in time. However, this individual is misusing this pasuk from seferTehillim” to try to justify his lack of involvement in Torah study when he involves himself in unessential activities.

RaSh”I, on the pasuk in seferTehillim”, explains that our Rabbis have taught that there are exceptional situations when a transgression of The Torah is necessary for the purpose of putting a barrier for The Jews for the sake of their continued allegiance to HaShem and The Torah. Examples of this can be found by Gidon and Eliyahu, who both brought sacrifices on a bamah (altar outside The Beis HaMikdash), which was prohibited, though was permissible only in those particular instances. (See seferShoftim” (6; 25 – 27) in reference to Gidon and seferMilachim I” (18; 20 – 39) in reference to Eliyahu.) However, exceptions were made in both cases, as these actions, which are otherwise forbidden, were permitted in those cases, as the purpose was to take The B’nei Yisrael away from performing idolatry, to bring them to The Service of HaShem.

RaSh”I quotes an Aggadah which teaches that the person who is free from other obligations and the one who strolls around, who nevertheless limit their involvement in Torah study to designated periods of time throughout the day, is acting to abolish The Covenant that we have with HaShem, for such a person is required be involved in Torah study throughout the day.

RaDa”K and Metzudas David explain that HaShem has a designated time to carry out His judgment of the evildoers who have abolished The Torah. RaDa”K adds that the time when HaShem will punish these evildoers will be at the time of The Redemption (G’ulah), as it says in seferMalachi”. Alternatively, RaDa”K explains that this pasuk is a continuation from the previous pasuk, which states that “I am Your servant, cause me to understand, and I shall know of your statutes”. The person is asking HaShem to assist him in attaining knowledge of HaShem’s statutes, in order to grasp onto these statutes, as the person needs to strengthen himself to fulfill the mitzvos in The Torah, as the generation has abolished The Torah. Consequently, the person who wishes to follow HaShem must greatly strengthen himself in reference to The Torah, in order that he will not completely forsake his involvement in The Torah.

MaLBI”M explains that due to the person’s knowledge of the statutes of HaShem, he will be more familiar with the manner in which HaShem dispenses reward and punishment. By being familiar with HaShem’s statutes, the person will also be aware of when it is appropriate and when it is inappropriate to take vengeance against those who act to abolish The Torah and The Jewish religion.

[4] The entire pasuk states, “It is a Guilt (Asham) offering, he has certainly acted guiltily to HaShem”. (Vayikra: 5; 19)

[5] This teaching is brought in the name of Rabbi Nihorye. This section of the gemara states as follows:

““…and one who says The Torah is not from Heaven [does not receive a portion in The World to Come].” Our rabbis have taught [in a Baraisa, as follows]: “For he has scorned The Word of HaShem and has negated His Commandment, [that soul] shall certainly be cut off…” (Bamidbar: 15; 31) This [pasuk] refers to the [person] who says that The Torah is not from The Heavens. Another explanation: “For he has scorned The Word of HaShem…” – This refers to an apikorus (heretic). Another explanation: “For he has scorned The Word of HaShem…” This refers to the [person] who misrepresents [the teachings of] The Torah. “…and he has negated His Commandment…” – This refers to the [person] who negates The Covenant of the flesh (i.e. bris milah – Jewish circumcision). “…he shall surely be cut off…” – [That person] shall be cut off – הכרת – hikareis – in this world, he shall be cut off – תכרת – tikareis – in The World to Come. Based on this, Rabbi Elazar the Moda’ei said, ‘One who violates the kodshim (sanctified meats from The Beis HaMikdash), and one who despises the holidays, and one who negates The Covenant of Avraham Avinu, and one who presents The Torah in a manner contrary to the halacha, and one who embarrasses his fellow publicly, though he possesses Torah [study] and [the performance of] good actions (mitzvos), he [nevertheless] does not have a portion in The World to Come’. Another Baraisa [teaches as follows]: “For he has scorned The Word of HaShem…” – This refers to the [person] who says that The Torah is not from The Heavens. Even if [the person] said, ‘The entire Torah is from The Heavens, aside from this pasuk that The Holy One, Blessed is He, did not say, rather Moshe said it himself, such [a person] is [referred to as] “…one who despises The Word of HaShem…”. Even if [the person] said, ‘The entire Torah is from The Heavens, aside from this vowel [or] aside from this kal va’chomer (fortiori argument), [or] from this g’zeirah shavah (exegetical transposition), this is [what is referred to as] “For he has despised The Word of HaShem…”” We have learned in a Baraisa, [as follows]: “Rabbi Meir had said, ‘One who learns Torah and doesn’t teach it to others is the one [who has] “…scorned The Word of HaShem…”.’ Rabbi Nosson says, ‘[This refers to] all of those who do not pay attention to the mishna (i.e. this person treats the mishna as if it’s not the main thing – RaSh”I)’. Rabbi Nihorye says, ‘[This pasuk refers to one] for whom it was possible to involve [himself] in Torah [study], and [nevertheless] doesn’t involve himself [in Torah study]’. Rabbi Yishmael says, ‘[One who scorns The Word of HaShem, refers to the person] who worships idols. What is the implicit meaning [of this pasuk that would suggest that it refers to idolatry]? This [follows] that which was taught at The Academy of Eliyahu: ‘“For he has despised The Word of HaShem…” – This [refers to the person] who despises The Speech that was said to Moshe from [Har] Sinai, [as it says], “I am HaShem your G-d,… You shall have no others gods aside from Me.” (Shmos: 20; 2 – 3)’ Rabbi Yihoshua ben Korchah says, ‘All of those who learn Torah and don’t review it, is similar to a person who plants and doesn’t harvest’. Rabbi Yihoshua says, ‘All of those who learn Torah and forget [that Torah learning], is similar to a woman who gives birth and buries [that baby]’.”

[6] “Mikrah” refers to The Written Torah (TaNa”Ch – Torah, N’vi’eem, and K’suvim).

[7] This text is based on the pasuk from seferIyov” (33; 18), which states, “To withhold his soul from destruction, and his life from passing through the sword”.

RaSh”I explains that it is with the sword of The Angel of Death that HaShem brings afflictions upon the person for their own benefit. On the previous pasuk, RaSh”I explains that HaShem might inflict the person will illness to prevent him from doing that which is wrong, and to remove his haughtiness from him, in order to withhold himself from complete death.

MaLBI”M explains that HaShem gives the person a dream or a vision during the night in order to warn him to improve so that he won’t continue to act in a way whereby he could suffer from physical death and from spiritual punishment. (33; 15 – 18)

Based on this teaching from “Iggeres HaTishuvah”, we see that the person can rescue his soul from destruction through involvement in Torah study, this being aside from the person performing tishuvah, as explained above.

[8] The entire text of this mishna from “Pirkei Avos”, states as follows:

“Akaviah, the son of Mahalaleil, says, ‘Focus on three matters and you won’t come to sin: Know from where you came, and to where you are going, and before whom you will give a judgment and accounting. From where did you come? [You came] from a putrid drop. To where are you going? [You are going] to a place of dirt, maggot and worm. Before Whom will you give a judgment and accounting? [You will give a judgment and accounting] before The King Who reigns over kings, The Holy One, Blessed is He.’”

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