Thursday, July 30, 2009

#37 - Time 2 Build/Rebuild

Sitting here now hours after the fast of Tisha B'Av has completed having eaten quite a bit this evening, and following a good night's sleep last night, I can spend all my time writing now with no outside disturbances. The only thing that should be disturbing is that we just passed another Tisha B'Av here in Israel - and as of yet to my knowledge - no sign of Moshiach's coming or rebuilt Temple. However, on the bright side, I am living in a land in which I am probably the first generation in almost 2,000 years that has stepped foot in it - having returned to the Land of our Forefathers.

We have our Forefathers or Patriarchs- Abraham, Isaac & Jacob - to whom Hashem promised the Land of Israel to their descendants. And then, we have our Matriarchs, who were their wives - Sara, Rebecca, Leah & Rachel. Jacob had technically a total of four women from whom are descended the 12 Tribes of Israel, but his main two wives were Leah & Rachel. Actually, as far as Jacob was concerned at one point, it was only Rachel who was going to be his wife, but due to a change of events, not only did Jacob wind up marrying Leah, but he even married her first, and Leah was the one who bore him half of his 12 sons.

Perhaps one of the least understood stories in the Bible is the events of the "mandrakes" (Dudaim in Hebrew), a type of flower that Leah's oldest son Reuben found and gave to his mommy while yet a little boy who was the oldest child in the family. Remember that at this point, unlike Leah who already had four children, Rachel had none. Upon seeing the mandrakes, Rachel requested to have the mandrakes, and after Leah's complaint of Rachel wanting to have everything, Rachel agreed that in turn, Leah could take Rachel's turn of spending the night with their husband Jacob. A deal is a deal. The next thing we read is that Leah went out to happily greet Jacob following his long, hard day's work in the summer field, exclaiming to him Ki Sachor Secharticha - "You are spending the night with me because I hired you with my sons' mandrakes", and the next thing the Bible tells us is about another baby - Leah gave birth to her fifth child whom she named Yissaschar - because Natan Elokim Sechari - "G-d rewarded me because I gave my maidservant to my husband". Rashi explains about Rachel's deal of giving up her night of spending it with Jacob and giving it to Leah instead that because Rachel made light of being together with a Tzadik - her husband Jacob, she did not merit to be buried with him.

Several questions here will help begin to understand these events:

1) The big deal about these special flowers is that it helped with fertility which helped barren women be able to conceive. If so, then what did Rachel do so wrong by giving up a night with Jacob by granting it to Leah instead. Wasn't Rachel wise with making a special attempt to be able to become pregnant when she had not been able to for the last few years?

2) Why is Rachel giving up her night to Leah to be with Jacob any worse than when she allowed Leah to marry Jacob in lieu of herself when Laban pulled a trick over Jacob, for which Rachel was in fact rewarded in the future when Hashem listened to her prayers over everyone else's in Heaven following the destruction of the First Temple?

3) Why is Rashi stressing the fact that it was giving up her night to be with a Tzadik, rather than with her husband Jacob? She surely loved him very much, but she wasn't looking merely for pleasure, she was making an honest attempt to be able to have children using the mandrakes, and was willing to let Leah have her night with Jacob in order to do so?

4) Leah gave the reason for naming her son Yissachar - Natan Elokim Sechari - "G-d REWARDED me for letting my maidservant be with her husband". It would seem that the real reason that led to this is Ki Sachor Secharticha "Because I HIRED you (Jacob) with my son's mandrakes". In fact, a double wording in the Hebrew of the word Sachor which may explain the REAL reason why she named her son Yissaschar with the similar connotation. What is going on here?

5) Moreover, the reason that Leah gave for naming her son as such seems to be the opposite type of action than her first action, and in fact, she did the same thing of giving someone else the chance of being with Jacob instead of herself - saying that in fact Hashem REWARDED her for doing so, why Rashi indicates that Rachel lost out in REWARD for doing the same type of thing!

Anyone who has learned Rashi, the Talmud, the Midrash, etc. will clearly understand that this family of Jacob's wives and 12 sons being the 12 Tribes of Israel was unlike any other family before or after. The unusual events surrounding this is that first of all, Jacob was 84 when he first tied the knot. He intended only to marry Rachel, but was fooled and didn't realize he married her sister Leah until the morning following the wedding. He married Rachel one week later - and according to the Torah, it is forbidden to marry one's wifes' sister so long as his wife is living; however, the Torah was not given yet, and under the circumstances that played a trick on him, Jacob took the easy route and wound up marrying both sisters. The maidservants given to him accompanying each wife were not women whom he married - Jacob was only together with them as an alternative to being together with Leah or Rachel. And Jacob knew -as well as Leah and Rachel knew - that he was destined to have 12 sons that would make up the Jewish nation, and the only question was which woman would have what percentage of the pie in relationship to this. And even at this, both Leah & Rachel in fact were barren women - but since Leah cried her face off as it seems that her destiny was to marry Jacob's evil brother Esau, but was spared due to her constant prayers to Hashem, and then Leah felt that she was not loved by Jacob to say the least, Hashem allowed her to have children one after the other.

With the above being said, it was clear to Jacob, Leah & Rachel that a custom made family was being designed here by Hashem, and so it was up to their actions, as well as their faith & trust in Hashem that would determine at least in part as to how many children each woman was destined to have. Now technically, as least as far as Leah was concerned, each of the four women would wind up having three children to make up the total of 12 sons. However, when Leah gave birth to her fourth son Judah, she realized that she had "more than her share". However, at this point this would mean that Rachel too would have a chance to have four sons like she had, and that the maidservants would have only two each. This latter plan in fact had its roots. At the end of Parshat Vayera - also read in the Torah on the 2nd day of Rosh HaShana - we see that Abraham's brother Nachor also had eight sons through his wife, and four sons through his maidservant, and this is in fact this is indicated in Rashi in . As it turned out, this in fact turned out to be the case - that is, eight sons through the wives of Jacob, and four sons through his maidservants. However, Rachel did not wind up sharing the pie evenly with Leah, as Leah wound up with six sons while Rachel wound up only with two.

Before I explain how Rachel went wrong, I want to to refer you to the Haftara of the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana, in Jeremiah 31. As I mentioned earlier, when the Destruction of the First Temple took place, the Patriarchs and Moses who were already long since having passed away asked Hashem how He could have allowed such tragedies of the Jewish people with their death from starvation, being murdered, the Temple being destroyed, could have happened. Rachel also cried out to Hashem about this. However, as Jeremiah notes, Hashem answered only Rachel's prayers, saying Yesh Sachar L'Pheulasech "There is REWARD for your action". The Midrash tells us that indeed this reward to Rachel was for her giving up her rights of marrying Jacob to Leah, so Leah wouldn't be embarrassed when Laban gave her over in marriage to Jacob. Now mind you, Rachel was already buried in her own area near Bethlehem where Jews from the beginning of time starting from her son Joseph upon being sold in slavery on his route to Egypt until this very day come to her gravesite and cry at her site asking Hashem to answer them in the merit of Mama Rachel. Now, note the Hebrew words used in Hashem's answer to Rachel - Yesh Sachar - "There is REWARD" These two Hebrew words when read together is the same word as the name Yissaschar - Leah's fifth son! How ironic?!

That is it. The truth is that Rachel in fact was supposed to give birth to four sons. However, because of her lack of faith and trust in Hashem - regardless of her good intentions - she lost out in having two children, as Zebulun the next son who wound up supporting Yissaschar learning Torah, was part of a package deal, as they were even included into one blessing that Moses gave them at the end of the Chumash, unlike all the other tribes whom Moses blessed each on seperately. Thus, Rachel forever lost out in the merit of having such children who would be learning and teaching Torah, and supporters of Torah. Though she attempted to be able to have children through the mandrakes, those mandrakes were really meant for Leah for whatever reason that Hashem wished for her to have them. Rachel should have realized that if Hashem really wanted her instead to have them, she would have find them in another way. What she should have done instead was to continiously pray to Hashem - like Leah did, even as she already had four sons, because as the Torah says "Hashem listened to Leah" for she desired to have even more Tribes (sons that would make up the Jewish people).

Now don't forget, Leah was hoping to have more sons a little earlier on after having Judah, but since she wasn't able to have more children at that time, she gave her maidservant Zilpah to be with Jacob. Leah figured out that if Hashem wasn't giving her more children, then it was time for someone else to have a chance. And indeed, at the end, she named her son Yissaschar because "G-d rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband". Now, this was all nice and dandy. However, Rachel was the first to do so after she saw herself not bearing any children to Jacob, and she gave her maidservant Bilhah to be with Jacob. So now, both Leah and Rachel did the same thing, but Leah in fact was only following Rachel's example, so now, at a standstill, Rachel by right should have had children before Leah having more, since it was Rachel who did this type of thing first. Thus, Rachel knowing all the facts should have understood that indeed it was HER turn to have children next, despite past failed attempts, and that it was just a matter of praying enough to Hashem who wanted to listen to her prayers to grant these very special Tribes of Israel.

But Rachel failed the test. Her husband was not just another husband who could help her have children. He was a Tzadik, whom she should have felt that since Hashem allowed her the great privilege of marrying and being with a Tzadik, that her attempts of having children with him would not be in vein. But, it had to be according to Hashem's timing, not Rachel trying to manipulate the ability to "make things better", because for her high spiritual level, Hashem was ready that very night to allow her to become pregnant - WITHOUT THE MANDRAKES. However, since she gave up her night with Jacob, Leah seized the opportunity since Leah fully realized that if Hashem wants to give her more children, then He could do so without her needing to use the fertility flowers for this purpose, and that the only thing she needed was her prayers of wanting to have more children.

So there is in fact no contradiction here with the two statements using the word Sachar that Leah had used. In fact, both Rachel and Leah had equal reason in Hashem's eyes for showing that they were not selfish in letting someone sleep spend time with Jacob when they saw themselves not being able to have children. In fact, as far as Leah was concerned, Rachel would have precedence with this - both because Leah already had four sons, and so Rachel would have the same chance, and in fact, Rachel had done the good deed of giving over her maidservant to Jacob first. However, what merely explains how it was Leah who got the front seat was that Leah gave up something monetary to Rachel to have not only the physical privilege - but in this case - more importantly the spiritual privilege of being with Jacob -"Because I HIRED you" in the original text using a double wording of Sachar which can mean reward, but also can mean hiring - giving up something in monetary value for something that is at least worth as much if not worth more. This was the edge that allowed Leah to precede Rachel. The double wording of Sachar indicates that while Rachel has double reason to precede Leah in terms of having children, Leah got the precedence because of her present sacrifice, and so it was Leah - and not Rachel - who got the reward for giving up her maidservant to Jacob - the actual reason given for giving her son the name Yissaschar - even though it was Rachel who had the original idea of giving up her maidservant to Jacob.

Now, when it came time for Jacob to marry, though Rachel had every right to show up as Jacob's bride, she felt it wasn't right for Leah to be put to shame. In fact, the Midrash tells us that Jacob gave Rachel signs so that in the event that her father Laban would give over his older daughter Leah to Jacob instead of his younger daughter Rachel, that Rachel would give the signs to Jacob while her face was covered with the traditional veil when marrying so Jacob would know that it indeed it would be Rachel. Thus, Rachel gave over these signs to Leah, so Leah would not be put on the spot. Besides, Rachel's selfishlessness and self-sacrifice in all this, she also realized that if Hashem really wanted her to be married at this time, it shouldn't be at the expense of someone else being embarrassed, despite Jacob having in mind only to marry Rachel, and despite the wicked Laban's free choice of doing the right thing but chose to do things his crooked way. It was in this merit that Rachel was the one - and only one - whom Hashem answered her prayers later on when the Jews were in a most terrible time suffering.

Now, a question can still be asked. We see that Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem is a special place for Jews to cry and pray over there - especially the women who do so. Doesn't this indicate that it was meant for Rachel to be buried there to begin with -even as Leah was buried with Jacob at another location?

The truth is that originally, it was Rachel who was supposed to have been buried with Jacob, as Rachel was in fact Jacob's basherte. Accordingly, Leah was in fact Jacob's evil brother Esau's basherte. However, it was Esau's evil actions that cost him his basherte, as well as Leah's tearful prayers to Hashem not to allow her to be married to the evil Esau which made her eyes week, and even though according to the Torah that Jacob learned well, it is forbidden to marry two sisters when they are both alive, Jacob married both, as the Torah was not officially given yet, and he didn't realize at first that he married the wrong wife. But in fact, Leah wound up being Jacob's ultimate wife, despite Jacob's all time love for Rachel. Leah wound up with half of Jacob's sons; and because Leah passed all of Hashem's tests with flying colors, she got the ultimate privilege of being buried with Jacob. Thus, Rachel being buried by herself where she is at is merely coming to rectify where she previously failed - and lost out having both Yissaschar and Zebulun. It is only now that Rachel cries to Hashem for the Jews suffering that Hashem assures her that she will be rewarded - that unlike her eternal loss of the merit of the son Yissaschar - YESH SACHAR - there is reward - but specifically for the time that she selfishlessly let Leah marry Jacob, and so for that, Hashem will give her merit - her reward - and it is her prayers that Hashem will listen to which will allow the Jews to return to their homeland Israel once again. But when Rachel let Leah to be with Jacob again at a later time, it wasn't because of an act of selfishlessness - on the contrary, she wanted something that Leah had, and didn't want the course of events that way that Hashem wanted them to be, and in her insistence of having the mandrakes, she decided to reverse the roles, showing a lack of trust in Hashem; unlike years earlier when Rachel realized that it was Hashem's will to let Leah be married first to Jacob, when she willingly went with the flow without her insistence to her "rights" because it is only Hashem who gives us our rights the way that Hashem wants to give them to us without allowing another person's feelings to be hurt, or feel embarrassment.


Indeed, the above words of Torah seem to be more applicable when we will read about this in the Torah in a few months from now, though I have mentioned Rachel in reference of her crying for the Jewish people who were murdered and exiled surrounding the events of the destruction of the First Temple that took place on Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av. But there is a special connection of Yissaschar to today's date. You see, today - the 10th of Av - is listed in the Midrash as Yissaschar's birthday, the date immediately following Tisha B'Av

On a personal note, as my birthmonth Iyar corresponds to the Tribe of Yissaschar, I feel a special connection to this Tribe even though I was given a name of a different Tribe. In any case, other than the play on words with the name Yissachar and the root word Sachar - reward, there is in fact a Gematria involved here. In fact, this is mentioned in the very last Mishna of all the Mishnayot:

"Rabbi Joshua Ben Levi says: "In the future, the Holy One Blessed Be He will give as an inheritance to each and every Tzadik (in the Hebrew, using the word Tzadik twice) - 310 worlds, as it says "To give as an inheritance to my loved ones - Yesh (the letters consisting of Yud (10) & Shin (300) adding up to 310), and I will fill up their storehouses". " (Uktzin 3:12)

Thus, the name Yissaschar consists of two words Yesh=310, and Sachar means reward. The reward of 310 spiritual worlds is given to all the Tzadikim. However, the question can be asked, couldn't the Mishna have worded itself to say that Hashem gives to a Tzadik or to all the Tzadikim - the 310 worlds. Why does it instead say - in its literally translation - that Hashem gives TO EVERY TZADIK & TZADIK - the 310 worlds. I could understand this easily if we are talking about a righteous law firm being run by two brothers, or father & son, having the last name Tzadik; and thus, would be called Tzadik & Tzadik, Esq. But the normal wording of saying to a Tzadik or to all the Tzadikim would make more grammatical sense.

Abraham I. Twersky, a famous rabbi and physciatrist, who is famous for his treatment of drinking and drug addiction, once gave the scenario of how one is addicted to these things. People normally talk causually about someone who has a drinking problem is that he has this kind of addiction as another thing to talk about, sometimes without giving much thought about the enormity of the problem. But what is really happening is that the guy took one drink, and then another drink, and then another... Thus, EACH AND EVERY drink adds on the enormity of the problem, not that he as a drinking problem as though it is something that he can go to the doctor one day, and get some quick medicine for; but that he is entrenching himself into a very dangerous position, which makes it FAR WORSE with EACH AND EVERY drink. Accordingly, when speaking of 6,000,000 Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, it isn't simply that we talk simply as 6,000,000 million people as a statistic the way that the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) who work with figures of cases of Anti-Semitism, but what this organization does about this does not necessarily reflect what they talk about it. What really happened in the Holocaust is that one Jew was murdered by the evil Nazi beasts, and another Jew was murdered by the..., and another Jew... Mentioning the Jews being murdered in the latter way shows by far how grave the situation of such a loss of Jews - not just that is was a "terrible thing" ranting off numbers, or typing the latest Anti-Semitic case in the States, and then eating a non-kosher lunch with other assimilated Jews who don't realize or don't care to realize that spending money on countless Holocaust museums should not be a means in itself, but that a good part of that money would be better spent on real Torah Jewish education for the next generation who will keep Judaism well and alive, which will be a far better way of honoring the memory of the 6,000, 000 million Jews.

And so, it is EACH AND EVERY Jewish child who is the ultimate answer of revenge for what the Communist Russians, Nazi beasts, and Moslem Arabs have done to us, and the best way of honoring the memory of their murdered relatives. Jewish children learning Torah has also been the way of assuring the continuity of Judaism to the next generation. The Midrash tells us that when Hashem asked for a guarantee for the Jewish people that they would keep the Torah, the only answer that pleased Hashem was the guarantee of our children - not that the parents would go to synagogue on Saturday morning, while their children went to public school, which was the
typical case in my dad's days in the 30s and 40s. But it was especially when the parents made special sacrifices to ensure that their children would have an authentic, Jewish education, that their children succeeded, many of them who became among the greatest rabbis of their generation - whether that meant giving up their own meal for their children to have strength to learn Torah the next day, selling their heated furnace to be able to hire a special Torah tutor, or in these days to live in an area that is close to a Jewish school - even if it means for the father to have a long commute to work every day. And indeed, as we mention in the midst of the first paragraph of the Shema that we recite twice daily, and as mentioned in this week's Parshat Va'etchanan - "You shall teach them (the words of Torah) diligently TO YOUR CHILDREN, and you shall speak of them when you are sitting at home or walking on the road, when you go to sleep or get up (from bed)" (Deutronomy 6:7).

And as another connection between Yissaschar and the learning/teaching of Torah, Yissaschar is the same Gematria (830) as the combination of the words Tanach/Bible
(470) and Shas (360). Tanach is the acronym of Torah/Penteteuch, Nevi'im/Prophets, and Ketuvim/Writings; and Shas is the acronym of Shisha Sedarim, the Six Orders or volumes of the Talmud, the basis of which is the Mishna(yot) upon which the tractates of the Gemara explain the meaning of the laws in the Mishna. The Tanach is the Torah She'B'Ketav/Written Torah, and the Shas is the foundation of the Torah She'B'Al'Peh/Oral Torah. While we say that there is indeed only one Torah - the Torah of Hashem and not man made, when the rabbis tell us that there are two Torot or Torahs, they refer to the Written Torah & Oral Torah, which both come from Hashem; and it is impossible for one to be a Talmid Chacham/Torah scholar without knowledge of both these parts of the Torah.


Having mentioned about the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana both about Abraham's brother having a family, and about Hashem answering Rachel's prayers about the Jewish people as a reward for her self-sacrifice, it is noteworthy to note of the willingness of both Abraham & Isaac for the latter who was 37 years old at the time (and this is my 37th post), to be brought up and slaughtered on the altar as their self-sacrifice, which we read about also on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana. It is interesting to note that as mentioned in the Hassidic Sefer of B'nei Yissaschar, the 1st day of Rosh Hashana consists of harsher judgment corresponding to Leah, while the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana consists of lighter judgment, corresponding to Rachel. While it is the 1st day of Rosh Hashana that the Torah tells us to observe as a holiday; we keep two days of Rosh Hashana due to a technicality of when the New Moon could be sighted in the olden days which coincided with Rosh Hashana. As such, we are supposed to treat each day of Rosh Hashana as equal, the same way that both Leah and Rachel were supposed to be equal in the amount of sons. As it turned out, Leah turned out to have a greater share of the pie, but that happened specifically because of Leah's prayers and full trust in Hashem, while Rachel failed. (NOTE: As I am writing this, we are exactly 50 days before Rosh Hashana)

However, Rachel does have some other merits of her own. It is true that the month of Iyar, the month corresponding to Yissaschar whose name is hinted in Hashem's answer to Rachel in the Book of Jeremiah, has the first letters of the Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Rachel, that is, Alef - Yud - Yud - Reish. Besides, Rachel was the one who composed the Musaf prayer for Rosh Chodesh - and is hinted as such in the first letters of the first words of that prayers - Roshei Chodashim L'Amcha - "You (Hashem) have given the New Moons to Your nation...". And there is another prayer that is recited largely by pious people at midnight. These are the prayers known as Tikkun Chatzot - in which we mourn for the Temple which was destroyed on Tisha B'Av (most of its destruction actually happened on today's date - 10 Av - the birthday of Yissaschar) and we ask Hashem to have it speedily rebuilt. There are two parts to this. The first part is called Tikkun Rachel, and the 2nd part is called Tikkun Leah. The Tikkun Rachel part is recited specifically on days that we say the Tachanun/Supplicatory Prayers, but on the Sabbath, Rosh Chodesh, Yom Tov, Chol HaMoed, and other special days, we don't say this, but only Tikkun Leah, as the Tikkun Rachel is much more sad & supplicatory in nature, reflecting Rachel who has cried excessively asking Hashem to have mercy on us, and indeed Hashem has answered her specifically that Hashem will return us back to our homeland. And while part of this prophecy has in fact been for the large part fulfilled today; however, the main part of the tragedy of the loss of the Holy Temple has yet to be amended, and so until the Holy Temple is rebuilt, we have to feel its loss and first of all, pray for it to be rebuilt, but also, as I mentioned in my last post, to refrain from speaking Loshon Hora/evil gossip.

Before continuing on the subject of refraining from speaking Loshon Hora, I must mention that there is a special video presentation lasting for like 16 minutes about Jews coming home - to Israel, that had just been released to the public literally days ago. You can check this out by typing in - "Eye on Zion" - click, and then press on the very first link, or go directly to the website, and look for this video. In the midst of this presentation, Yishai Fleischer from Israel National News interviews Rabbi Joshua Fass, co-founder of Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization which has helped Jews for the last seven years making Aliyah. Anyways, in the end of this interview, Yishai Fleischer asked Rabbi Fass as to what number flight had just come in (the interview was held at the airport as the Olim were coming in), and the answer is that it was the 37th flight. Immediately afterwards, you see Yishai Fleischer at Kever Rachel/Rachel's tomb, where he mentioned that Rachel "cries for her children" as mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah, and will continue to do so until all the Jewish people are back in our land. Yes, this is in time for my 37th post on!


Last night - on the night of Tisha B'Av, Rabbi Moshe Chait, dean of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim in Jerusalem, passed away at the age of 87. His specialty was being a teacher of Mussar - Torah ethics. As we know about the Chofetz Chaim himself, he is called as such after the Sefer that he called Chofetz Chaim, which is a compilation of the laws of the prohibition of evil gossip. By the way, the title or phrase Chofetz Chaim, which literally means, "wants life", comes from the verse(s) "Who is the one who wants life, who loves years to see good. Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit" (Psalms 34:13-14). Anyways, the Chofetz Chaim in his introduction to the Sefer mentions the Talmud in Tractate Yoma (9b) that the Second Temple was destroyed, the loss of which we have had for some 1,940 years, resulted from Sinat Chinam/baseless hatred & Loshon Hora/evil gossip. Thus, Rabbi Chait's passing on this very date of Tisha B'Av, the date in which the Second Temple was destroyed as a result of the sin of Loshon Hora, the opposite of the actions of one who wants life - Chofetz Chaim - serves as a reminder for us to quit speaking Loshon Hora, showing Hashem's Hashgacha Peratit - Divine Providence. In reference to this, I want to point out to a website - - in which you will see past broadcasts which were originally shown on Tisha B'Av, about the importance from staying away from speaking Loshon Hora to avoid today's ongoing tragedies, and instead receive Hashem's blessings.

And in terms of my blogspot, I had absolutely no idea about when this rabbi was going to pass away. You see, his last name Chait when spelled in Hebrew - Cheit (8), Yud (10), Yud (10), Teit (9) - adds up to the number 37, which came in time for this 37th post of! Indeed, I have seen much Divine Providence since I began my blogspot some nine and a half months ago on the evening immediately following Simchat Torah.

If this was not enough, speaking of Rabbi Moshe Chait, a teacher of Mussar/Torah ethics, let me point out to you a Sefer in English that is called "Living Mussar Every Day" by Rabbi Zvi Miller. This book is divided into daily reading according to the Parsha of the week. Thus, turning to the daily lesson for Thursday (5th day of the week) in Parshat Va'etchanan, the date of this rabbi's passing, what is the topic about? The prohibition of slander! Now without writing out the whole page here (page 348), I will summarize the six categories of slanderers that are based on an original book of Mussar called Orchot Tzadikim - "Ways of the Righteous" Chapter 24 - Sha'ar Lashon Hara "Gate of evil speech":

1) Defaming others whether what one says is true or false.
2) Mentioning to someone something negative about the latter's family - includes verbal abuse.
3) Denigrating someone's family in front of other people - embarrassment.
4) Denigrating someone's family in front of other people behind the person's back.
5) Mentioning past sins of a Ba'al Teshuva/repentant.
6) Maligning charity collectors who are trustworthy & faithful.

We must remember that it isn't that we just say something bad about someone and feelings get hurt - it can G-d forbid prevent much good in the future much happening, like a repentant who returns to his/her old ways or will prevent others from being repentant, or the charity collectors could be fired and the poor will be suffering in the meantime as a result of this. We have to always think of the consequences of our speech, even if we feel that an injustice has been done. The bottom line is: Monitor your words and make sure they do not enter any of the six categories of evil speech. If one is not sure if his/her comments will be better said or not, one's local Orthodox rabbi or recognized Posek/decider of Jewish law should be consulted. There is in fact an English translation of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim called "Guard Your Tongue" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin which is a must in every Jewish home, and will most likely be in any given Judaica bookstore that has Jewish books in English.

Will be blogging, G-d willing, in the midst of this coming week - a special for Tu B'Av - continuing on the topic of learning/teaching Torah, and what this has to do with Jewish marriage.

10 Av 5769, Birthday of Yissaschar son of Jacob

No comments: