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, May 29, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon ט ניסן - Nissan 9 - One-Hundred-and-Eighty-Seventh Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

(During a Jewish leap-year: 23 Adar II - בִּשְׁנַת הָעִיבּוּר - כ"ג אדר בּ)

Therefore, [once the] person [with] fear of HaShem [in] his heart, [will come to recognize that it is merely the Yetzer HaRa who is enticing him to refrain from supporting Torah institutions, he should] strive to [involve himself] in this matter of strengthening The Torah. [Such a person should make sure to support Torah institutions] in order so that in the future, [when he will be judged in the Heavenly Tribunal], the blood of [The B’nei] Yisrael, will not be sought from him, it being known that due to the sin of bittul Torah[1], [one’s] children [may] die [when they are young][2]. Similarly, [the above teaching follows that which was taught in “Tanna D’vei Eliyahu” (Eliyahu Rabbah, parsha 12), as follows]: “Concerning anyone who possesses the ability to protest [a wrongdoing] and nevertheless doesn’t protest [it], and has the ability to bring [The B’nei] Yisrael back to [perform that which is] good, and he doesn’t return them [to proper observance of The Torah, then] all of the blood that was spilled among [The B’nei] Yisrael, only comes about through him, as it says in seferYechezkel”, “And you, son of man, I have placed you as a watchman for The House of Israel, and you shall hear a matter from My Mouth, and you shall warn them… He is an evildoer, he shall die due to his sin, and I shall seek his blood from your hand”[3]. (33; 7 – 8)”[4] In addition, [it is fitting for the person to strengthen The Torah] for the sake of The Honor of HaShem and [for the sake of] His Holy Torah which is currently profaned, due to our sins. [Once the person will support and strengthen Torah institutions and those involved in Torah study], then there will be no end to his reward, as is taught in the [Talmud] Yirushalmi [in] the last chapter of [maseches] “Birachos” (halacha 5), [as follows]: “If you have seen a generation that weakens themselves from [supporting the study of] The Torah, [then] stand up and strengthen [Torah study], and you will receive the reward of the entire [generation].[5]

Even though it is known to everyone, that at the present time, in accordance with the lack of influence that exists, due to our numerous sins, and [due to] other reasons, it is not easy for one who strives to [strengthen Torah study], to bring this matter from the potential into the reality. Nevertheless, [one who wishes to strengthen Torah study], should not become lax in this [matter], for “in proportion to the difficulty is the reward”[6]. Even if, [as a result of his increased involvement in Torah study, the person] will find certain people who will deride him as a result of this [support of Torah study], he shouldn’t pay attention to [their behavior] at all. [The person who has been derided for his support of Torah study], should know that as a consequence of this [derision that he has suffered], his reward is all the greater, for he has borne insults for the sake of The Holy One, Blessed is He. In this vien, [we are taught] in the [Talmud] Yirushalmi, in the last chapter of [maseches] “Peah” (Chapter 8, halacha 6), [that the person receives a greater reward for performance of a mitzvah when he is the subject of derision for having performed that mitzvah in an acceptable manner. The teaching from the Yirushalmi] is in reference to those who are in charge of collecting charity, [and states as follows]: “Rabbi Elazar was an administrator of charity. [On] one occasion he went down to his house [and] said [to the people of his household], ‘What have you done [while I was gone]?’ They said to him: ‘One group [of people came] and they ate and they drank and prayed for you’. [Rabbi Elazar] said to them, ‘This is not a good reward’. [Rabbi Elazar then] went down [to his house] a second time [and] said to [the people of his household]: ‘What have you done [in my absence]?’ They said to him: ‘A second group came, and they ate and drank and derided you’. He said to them, ‘Over here, [in this instance], there is a good reward’.” [We are similarly taught in] “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson” (chapter 3, halacha 6), [as follows]: “One hundred times with distress [is preferable to] one time without distress.”[7]

[1] “Bittul Torah” refers to being idle from involvement in Torah study.

[2] This teaching that one’s children may die when they are young, due to the father’s sin of bittul Torah (idleness from involvement in Torah study), is taught by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, quoted in masechesShabbos” (32b). The source for this teaching “is written [in seferYirmiyahu”, as follows]: “I have struck your children for no purpose, [for] they have not accepted musar (moral rebuke)…””

[3] This chapter from seferYechezkel”, among other things, discusses the person’s obligation to warn another person, including an evildoer, to cease their involvement in sin, in order to spare their lives from death. This obligation, noted in this chapter, is stated in reference to the prophet who is aware of the punishment that is set to befall the people, but nevertheless refrains from warning the person. This prophet who is aware of the punishment that may befall the evildoer, and nevertheless refrains from warning him to repent from his evil actions, is held accountable, even in a situation where, if warned, the evildoer would subsequently decide to ignore the prophet’s warning and continue in his evil behavior.

The relevant p’sukim states as follows:

“And you son of man, I have placed you as a watchman for The Household of Israel, and you shall hear a matter from My Mouth, and you shall warn them from sinning before Me. When I have said to the evildoer, ‘Evildoer, you shall surely die’, and you have not spoken to warn the evildoer from [continuing in] his path [of evil], he is an evildoer, he shall die due to his sin, and I shall seek his blood from your hand. And you, when you shall warn the evildoer from his path [of evil], to return from [continued involvement in] it, and he [nevertheless] did not return from his path, he shall die due to his sin, and you have rescued your soul.” (Yechezkel: 33; 7 – 9, based on the commentary of Targum Yonasan ben Uziel)

[4] The relevant text from “Eliyahu Rabbah”, states as follows:

“Perhaps you will say that those 42,000 [people] who were killed during the time of Yiftach the Giladite, for what reason were they killed? [They were killed because] Yiftach the Giladite made a vow that was improper, and Pinchas, the son of Elazar, stood [in his place]. Pinchas should have gone to Yiftach to annul his vow [and] Yiftach should have gone [over] to Pinchas and have his vow annulled, and he [nevertheless] did not go. [Pinchas did not go over to Yiftach, for he said], ‘I am a Kohein Gadol, the son of a Kohein Gadol, the grandson of Aharon the Kohein [and] I should go over to an Am HaAretz?!?’ [Yiftach decided not to go over to Pinchas, for he said], ‘I am the leader of all of [The People of] Israel, [and] I should go over to this one?!?’ This one (i.e. Pinchas) treated himself with distinction [befitting a great person] and this one (i.e. Yiftach) treated himself with distinction [befitting a great person]. Woe to greatness for it buries those who possess it, woe to greatness, for it doesn’t cause good [to come about] in the world. Yiftach the Giladite made a vow, it being an improper matter to offer his daughter on top of the altar. [Subsequently], the men of Ephraim gathered against [Yiftach in order] to instigate a great quarrel with him. Pinchas should have said to them, ‘You have not come to annul [Yiftach’s] vow for him, [but] to you have come to him to instigate quarrel?!?’ [Instead, Pinchas] did not protest the people of Ephraim [in their quarrel against Yiftach], and he didn’t annul Yiftach’s vow for him. The One Who sits on The Throne, The Righteous Judge, May His Great Name be Blessed for all time, [then] said, ‘Since this one (i.e. Yiftach) put his life in his hand and came and rescued [The B’nei] Yisrael from the hand of Moav and from the hand of Amon [and these people of Ephraim] have [nevertheless] come to instigate a great quarrel with him, therefore, [Yiftach] gathered [his people] to war, and he went out and killed 42,000 of them, as it says, “And he said to them, ‘Please say “Shiboles”, and he would say “Siboles” (Shoftim: 12; 6), this being an idolatrous manner of speaking, like a person who says to his fellow “Shebol” and he is incapable of speaking like this, “…and they grabbed him and they slaughtered him by the crossings of the Jordan [River]…” (12; 6)

Who killed all of these [42,000] people? You would say that it was only Pinchas, the son of Elazar, who killed all of these [people], for he had the ability to protest [the actions of Ephraim] and he [nevertheless] did not protest. [Pinchas] could have annulled Yiftach’s vow for him, and he didn’t annul it for him. [The above] does not only apply to Pinchas, rather anyone who possesses the ability to protest and he [nevertheless] does not protest, to return [The B’nei] Yisrael to [performing that which is] good, and he doesn’t cause them to return [to performing that which is good, then, consequently], the blood that is spilled for [The B’nei] Yisrael, are only spilled on account of him, as it says [in seferYechezkel”], “And you, son of man, [I have placed you as a] watchman… When I have said to the evildoer, ‘Evildoer, you shall surely die’, and you have [nevertheless] not warned him… And you, when you have warned the evildoer [to refrain from [continuing in] his path [of evil]]…” (33; 7 – 9), [this being the case] for all of [The People of] Israel are guarantors [who are responsible] for one another. [To what are The B’nei Yisrael] comparable to? To a ship, on which one cabin in it had been ripped apart, [in such an instance], we do not say, ‘One cabin has been ripped apart on the ship’, rather [we say], ‘The entire ship has been torn apart’, as it says [in seferYihoshua”], “Did not Achan, the son of Zerach misappropriate consecrated property [and there was anger upon all of the congregation of Israel…]” (22; 20)

[5] This section from the Talmud Yirushalmi in masechesBirachos” (Chapter 9; 14, fourth column), states as follows:

“It was taught in a Baraisa: “Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai says, ‘If you have seen that the people have greatly despaired from involving [themselves] in Torah [study, then] stand up and strengthen [The Torah], and you shall receive the reward of all of [those people]. What is the reason for this? “They have treated Your Torah as ownerless, it is a time to act for HaShem”.’ (Based on “Tehillim” (119; 126)) Hillel the Elder used to say, ‘At the time that [the people] gather [in Torah, then] scatter [your Torah teachings], and at the time when they scatter [their Torah teachings], gather [in their teachings]’. Similarly, Hillel used to say, ‘If you see that The Torah is beloved by [The People of] Israel, and everyone is happy with it, scatter [your Torah teachings], and if not, gather [in The Torah that you study]’. Rabbi Elazar said, ‘Just as this baby needs to nurse (breast-feed) every hour of the day, so too, every person among [The People of] Israel need to weary themselves in Torah [study] every hour of the day’.

Chareidim explains that at the time that people do not express desire to study Torah, then learn Torah yourself, and you will be greatly rewarded, as it says “They have treated Your Torah as ownerless”, “it is a time to act for HaShem” (Koheles: 11; 6). If one were to teach Torah to people who do not want to hear it, it would be a disgrace for The Torah, therefore, by avoiding teaching Torah in such a situation, the person is rewarded for avoiding causing The Torah to be disgraced, in addition to continuing his involvement in Torah study, in the face of public laxity, and perhaps even disapproval, of Torah study.

[6] This teaching in “Pirkei Avos” (5; 23), is brought in the name of Ben Hei Hei. Bartenura explains that the more suffering that one has in Torah study and performance of the mitzvos, the greater is their reward. “Midrash Shmuel” explains that since the reward for Torah study is due to the degree that the person troubles himself and the energy that he expends to understand The Torah that he is learning. Therefore, it could be that the reward of the person who doesn’t understand much of The Torah that he has learned, though has expended a great deal of energy while attempting to understand The Torah, may have a reward comparable to The Torah leader of the generation, due to the effort that he expended in his Torah study.

[7] In the text of seferShmiras HaLashon”, the Chofetz Chaim quotes the teaching from “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson” as stating “One hundred times with distress [is preferable to] one time without distress”. However, the text from “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson” states, “for one matter in distress is better for the person than one-hundred times in [a state of] comfort”. The text of “Shmiras HaLashon” is “מאה פעמים בצער מפעם אחת שלא בצער”, while in “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson”, it states, “דבר אחד בצער ממאה בריוח”.

The passage from “Avos D’Rabbi Nosson”, states as follows:

“Rabbi Yishmael says, ‘If you have learned Torah in your youth, do not say, ‘I shall not learn in my old-age’. Rather, learn Torah, “for you do not know which [Torah study] will be fitting”. (based on Koheles: 11; 6) If you have learned Torah at a time of wealth, don’t sit back [to refrain from Torah study] at a time of poverty. If you have learned Torah during a time of satiety, don’t sit back [to refrain from Torah study] during a time of famine. If you have learned Torah at a time of comfort, do not sit back [to refrain from Torah study] at a time of distress, for one matter in distress is better for the person than one-hundred times in [a state of] comfort, as it says [in “Koheles”], “In the morning plant your seeds, and in the evening do not allow your hand to rest…” (11; 6)”

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