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If you encounter your enemy’s ox or 0,6.21″donkey wandering astray, you must
return it to him (Exodus 23:4).

In this mitzvah, the Torah makes two demands: (1) to go out of our way to
return a lost animal to its rightful owner, and (2) to overcome our hostile
feelings
towards our enemy if the lost animal is his.

If this is what is demanded toward a mere belonging of an enemy, how much
more are we responsible when we see friends going astray and acting
improperly?
Yet, how often do we avoid telling them that we feel what they are doing is
wrong? We rationalize by saying: “We do not wish to interfere in their
private
affairs. How they run their life is their own business,” or “We don’t want
to offend them.” A popular billboard declares: “A true friend does not allow
a friend to drive drunk.” If you truly care for others, you will take the
necessary steps to protect them from themselves, even if they may be angry
at
you for doing so. Honesty is more potent than sympathy. A person who has
suffered from grievous mistakes often says: “If only someone had stopped
me!”
Drunk driving is not the only destructive behavior which a true friend would
try to stop. Whenever we see that a friend is doing something which we
sincerely
believe to be wrong, we have a responsibility to convey our opinion to him
or her. Failure to do so comes from either of two rationalizations: (1) I am
not really his or her friend, or (2) I really do not believe the behavior is
wrong. In either case, we are guilty of insincerity.

Today I shall …
…. examine my own convictions and the sincerity of my friendship and let
this determine whether I will share my opinions with my friends.

  

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Parshat Shemini, 1st Portion Vayikra (Leviticus) 9:1-9:16

Text

Chapter 9

1.
And it was on the eighth day, that Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and =
the elders of Israel.
2.
And he said to Aaron, “Take for yourself a bull calf as a sin offering, =
and a ram as a burnt offering, [both] unblemished, and bring [them] near =
before
the Lord. 3. And to the children of Israel, you shall speak, saying, =
‘Take a he goat as a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, [both] in =
their first year
and [both] unblemished, as a burnt offering,
4.
and an ox and a ram as peace offerings, to slaughter before the Lord, =
and a meal offering mixed with oil, for today the Lord is appearing to =
you.’ ” 5.
And they took what Moses had commanded, to the front of the Tent of =
Meeting, and the entire community approached and stood before the Lord. =
6. And Moses
said, “This is the thing the Lord has commanded; do [it], and the glory =
of the Lord will appear to you.”
7.
And Moses said to Aaron, “Approach the altar and perform your sin =
offering and your burnt offering, atoning for yourself and for the =
people, and perform
the people’s sacrifice, atoning for them, as the Lord has commanded. 8. =
So Aaron approached the altar and slaughtered his sin offering calf. 9. =
And Aaron’s
sons brought forward the blood to him, and he dipped his finger into the =
blood, placing [some] on the horns of the altar, and he poured the blood =
at the
base of the altar. 10. And the fat, the kidneys, and the diaphragm with =
the liver from the sin offering, he caused to [go up in] smoke on the =
altar, as
the Lord had commanded Moses.
11.
And he burned the flesh and the hide in fire, outside the camp.
12.
And he slaughtered the burnt offering. And Aaron’s sons presented the =
blood to him, and he dashed it on the altar, around. 13. And they =
presented the burnt
offering to him in its [prescribed] pieces, along with the head. And he =
caused [them] to [go up in] smoke on the altar. 14. And he washed the =
innards and
the legs, and he caused [them] to [go up in] smoke on the altar, along =
with the burnt offering.
15.
And he brought forward the people’s sacrifice; he took the people’s sin =
offering goat, slaughtered it, and made it a sin offering, like the =
first one.
16.
And he brought forward the burnt offering and prepared it according to =
the law.

Commentary

Chapter 9

1. And it was on the eighth day. of the investitures. It was the first =
of the month of Nissan, the very day on which the Mishkan was erected. =
And [this
day] took ten =E2=80=9Ccrowns=E2=80=9D [of distinction], which are =
enumerated in Seder Olam 7. =E2=80=94 [Torath Kohanim 9:1] =
[called=E2=80=A6] the elders of Israel. to inform them that
it was by the express command of God that Aaron was entering into the =
Kehunah Gedolah , so that they should not say that he entered of his own =
accord.
2. Take for yourself a bull-calf. [This was] to inform [Aaron] that the =
Holy One, Blessed is He, had granted him atonement through this calf for =
the incident
involving the [golden] calf, which he had made. =E2=80=94 [see Tanchuma =
10]
4. for today the Lord is appearing to you. to make His Shechinah rest in =
the work of your hands [i.e., the work of the Mishkan], and for this =
reason, these
sacrifices are obligatory for this day.
7. Approach the altar. [Moses had to order Aaron to do so,] because =
Aaron was bashful and afraid to approach [the altar]. So Moses said to =
him: =E2=80=9CWhy are
you ashamed? For this [function] you have been chosen!=E2=80=9D – =
[Torath Kohanim 9:7] your sin offering. The bull-calf. and your burnt =
offering. The ram. the
people=E2=80=99s offering. The he-goat, the calf, and the lamb. Wherever =
the [unqualified] term =D7=A2=D6=B5=D7=92=D6=B6=D7=9C (calf) is stated =
[in Scripture], it denotes one in the first
year. This [rule] is derived from this passage. [The term =
=D7=A4=D6=BC=D6=B7=D7=A8 denotes one in the third year, =
=D7=A2=D6=B5=D7=92=D6=B6=D7=9C =
=D7=91=D6=BC=D6=B6=D7=9F=D7=91=D6=BC=D6=B8=D7=A7=D6=B8=D7=A8 one in the =
second year, and =D7=A2=D6=B5=D7=92=D6=B6=D7=9C one in
the first year.]- [Torath Kohanim 4:208]
11. the flesh and the hide. We do not find [in Scripture] an outside =
sin-offering [i.e., one whose blood is sprinkled on the outside altar] =
to be burned,
with the exceptions of this [instance] and [the sin-offerings] of the =
investitures. And all these [exceptions] were [burnt] at the express =
command [of
God].
12. presented. Heb. =
=D7=95=D6=B7=D7=99=D6=BC=D6=B7=D7=9E=D6=B0=D7=A6=D6=B4=D7=99=D7=90=D7=95=D6=
=BC. [This term] denotes =E2=80=9Cpresentation=E2=80=9D and =
=E2=80=9Cpreparation.=E2=80=9D
15. and made it a sin-offering. Heb. =
=D7=95=D6=B7=D7=99=D6=B0=D7=97=D6=B7=D7=98=D6=BC=D6=B0=D7=90=D6=B5=D7=94=D7=
=95=D6=BC. He sacrificed it according to the law of the sin-offering =
(=D7=97=D6=B7=D7=98=D6=BC=D6=B8=D7=90=D7=AA). like the first one. like =
his own
calf.
16. and prepared it according to the law. which is specified regarding a =
voluntary burnt-offering in [Parashath] Vayikra (1: 117) – [Beitzah 20a]

  

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P96

Positive Commandment 96
Impurity of a Dead Animal

Leviticus 11:8 “And their carcasses you shall not touch”

Contact with the dead body of an animal that was not ritually slaughtered
makes one impure.

  

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Moed Katan 22

Summary of the Daf

If the elder of the house accompanied the bier to the cemetery and arrived
within the first three days, he counts the seven days of mourning together
with
the other mourners.

If the mourners are not accompanying the bier to the cemetery, as soon as
they turn back at the gates of the city, (I.E., the outer gate), they begin
the mourning period.

If the mourners are still being comforted at the time of his arrival, that
is when R. Shimon holds that even if a mourner arrives on the seventh day,
he
counts the mourning period together with the other mourners.

It is preferable to hasten bringing the bier to burial unless it is the
funeral of a father or mother.

A mourner has a choice whether to abstain from work during the mourning
period (work that is permitted to a mourner such as commerce). He also has a
choice
whether to bare his shoulder (I.E., to plow).

A mourner may take a haircut and attend a wedding after 30 days. If a parent
passed away, the mourner may not take a haircut until his friends yell at
him (I.E., rebuke him),
and may not attend a wedding until after 12 months.

A mourner rips only his outer clothing the length of one handbreadth. If a
parent passed away, the mourner rips even the underclothing and he must
rip until he reveals his heart.

A mourner has a choice whether to rip at the collar or not, and he may
stitch up the rip after seven days and repair it properly after thirty days.
If a
parent passed away the mourner may not rip by the collar and may never
repair it properly.

A mourner has a choice whether to rip by hand or using a utensil. If a
parent passed the mourner must rip by hand.

The mourner has a choice whether to insert his hands inside his clothing in
order to tear or to rip from the outside. If a parent or the Nasi passes
away
the mourner must rip from the outside.

If a Torah scholar passes away his Beis Midrash is vacated; if the head of
the Beis Din dies all the Batei Midrash in the city are vacated; and if the
Nasi
dies all of the Batei Midrash everywhere are vacated.

Brief Insight

The Gemara says that if the mourners do not plan on accompanying the
deceased, they start the mourning period as soon as they turn back at the
gates of
the city. The Ramban says that is only true if the bier is being taken to a
different city. Since the bier is given over to the people that are dealing
with the burial, the mourners have put it out of their minds and thus the
mourning period starts from that time. But if it is being taken to a
cemetery
outside the city, since it is not being taken far away, the mourners still
have the burial in their minds. Therefore, they do not start the mourning
period
until the people that accompany the bier return and tell them that the
deceased has been buried.

Quick Halacha

A mourner may go to a wedding after thirty days, but if one is mourning a
parent it is forbidden until after twelve months. Even if it is a leap year,
it
is permitted after twelve months. If a person has an obligation to host a
social meal, he may do so after seven days. But if he is not obligated to do
so, he must wait until after thirty days. If he is mourning a parent, he may
not attend a social meal even if he has an obligation to do so.

The fact that it is permitted to go to a wedding after twelve months implies
that the mourning period is completed after twelve months even if it is a
leap
year. Those people who continue their mourning even in the thirteenth month
are doing so without any source and for no apparent reason. (Taz)

  

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Note: This schedule is taken from Chok l’Yisrael. =20
Because I don’t have an accessible copy of this work, I’m not exactly =
sure how the readings for Nevi’im (the Prophets, or the second portion =
of the Tanach), and the Ketuvim (the Writings, or the third portion of =
the Tanach) play out during the week. =20
All I have access to is a weekly schedule, so I’ll try to aportion these =
the best way I know how. =20

Yechezkal (Ezekiel) Chapter 9

1. Then He called into my ears with a loud voice, saying, “Bring near =
those appointed over the city, and each one his weapon of destruction in =
his hand.”
Bring near those appointed over the city Bring near the appointees whom =
I appointed to destroy the city.
2. And behold six men coming from the way of the upper gate, which is =
turned northward; each man has his sledgehammer in his hand, and one man =
among them
clothed in linen with a scribe’s tablet on his loins, and they came and =
stood beside the copper altar.
six men Our Rabbis explained them in Tractate Shabbath (55a) as Anger, =
Wrath, Fury, Destroyer, Breaker, Annihilator.
his sledgehammer Heb. =D7=9E=D6=B7=D7=A4=D6=BC=D6=B7=D7=A6=D7=95 =
=D6=B9=D7=9B=D6=BC=D6=B0=D7=9C=D6=B4=D7=99, which smashes everything, as =
in (Ps. 137:9): =E2=80=9Cand dash =
(=D7=95=D6=B0=D7=A0=D6=B4=D7=A4=D6=BC=D6=B5=D7=A5) your =
infants.=E2=80=9D
with a scribe=E2=80=99s tablet [Synonymous with] =
=D7=A4=D6=BC=D6=B4=D7=A0=D6=B0=D7=A7=D6=B7=D7=A1. These are wax-covered =
tablets upon which they engrave with a stylus.
beside the copper altar This was the stone altar erected by Solomon =
instead of the copper altar that Moses had made in the desert.
3. And the glory of the God of Israel lifted itself from upon the cherub =
upon which it had been, to the threshold of the House, and He called to =
the man
clothed in linen, upon whose loins was the scribe’s tablet.
from upon the cherub which was on the Ark cover, for the Shechinah had =
been resting there until then, and it began to withdraw and to go =
outside little
by little in ten steps, and this is the first stepfrom the cherub to the =
threshold of the Holy of Holies.
4. And the Lord said to him, “Pass through the midst of the city, =
through the midst of Jerusalem, and you shall mark a sign upon the =
foreheads of the men
who are sighing and moaning over all the abominations that were done in =
its midst.”
and you shall mark a sign You shall mark a sign on the foreheads of the =
righteous men in order to be for a sign that the destroyers should not =
strike them.
5. And to these, He said in my ears, “Pass through the city after him =
and smite; let your eye spare not and have no pity.
And to these, He said in my ears To these six destroyers.
6. Old man, young man, and maiden, young children and women, you shall =
slay utterly, but to any man upon whom there is the mark you shall not =
draw near,
and you shall commence from My sanctuary.” So they commenced from the =
old men who were before the House.
and you shall commence from My sanctuary From those standing before My =
sanctuary. Our Rabbis said: Do not read =
=D7=95=D6=BC=D7=9E=D6=B4=D7=9E=D6=BC=D6=B4=D7=A7=D6=B0=D7=93=D6=B8=D7=A9=D6=
=BC=D7=81=D6=B4=D7=99, and from My sanctuary,
but =
=D7=95=D6=BC=D7=9E=D6=B4=D7=9E=D6=BC=D6=B0=D7=A7=D6=BB=D7=93=D6=B8=D7=A9=D6=
=BC=D7=81=D6=B7=D7=99, and from My sanctified ones, from those =
sanctified to Me. They are the ones marked with the sign, whom He had =
warned [them] not to
hurt. [Now] He reneged and commanded [the angels] to destroy [even] them =
because the Divine standard of justice contended before Him, =
=E2=80=9CWhy are these different
from those? Is it not so that they did not protest?=E2=80=9D As is =
stated in Tractate Shabbath (55a).
7. And He said to them, “Defile the House and fill the courts with the =
slain [and] go out,” and they went out and smote in the city.
8. And it came about when they smote, that I remained, and I fell on my =
face and cried out, and I said, “Alas, O Lord God, are You destroying =
the entire
remnant of Israel when You pour out Your fury on Jerusalem?”
that I remained Heb. =
=D7=95=D6=B0=D7=A0=D6=B5=D7=90=D7=A9=D6=BC=D7=81=D6=B2=D7=90=D6=B7=D7=A8,=
and I remained.
9. And He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is =
exceedingly great, and the land has become full of bloodshed, and the =
city has become
full of perversion, for they said, ‘The Lord has forsaken the earth, and =
the Lord does not see.’
full of perversion Crooked judgments.
10. I too-My eye will not spare, neither will I have pity; I have placed =
their way on their head.”
11. And behold, the man clothed in linen, on whose loins was the tablet, =
replied with a word, saying, “I have done according to all that You have =
commanded
me.”

  

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Mishlei (Proverbs) Chapter 17

1. Better a piece of dry bread and tranquility with it, than a house =
full of sacrifices of strife.
Better a piece of dry bread and tranquility with it It would have been =
better for the Holy One, blessed be He, to destroy His Temple and His =
city, for He
would enjoy tranquility from the sins of Israel.
than a house full of sacrifices of strife For they were sacrificing =
sacrifices of strife in his Temple.
2. An intelligent slave will rule over a disgraceful son, and among the =
brothers he will divide the inheritance.
An intelligent slave, etc. Because Nebuchadnezzar was wise enough to =
take three steps in honor of the Holy One, blessed be He, he achieved =
greatness and
ruled over Israel, who performed disgraceful deeds, and he divided their =
inheritance before their eyes. Another explanation: A righteous =
proselyte is better
than a wicked person who was home born, and in the future, he will share =
the spoils and the inheritance among the children of Israel, as it is =
said (Ezek.
47:23): =E2=80=9CAnd it shall be, in whatever tribe the stranger will =
live, etc.=E2=80=9D
3. A refining pot is for silver, and a furnace is for gold, but the Lord =
tests the hearts.
A refining pot is for silver A vessel in which they refine silver and =
which is made from burnt ash on earthenware is called =
=D7=9E=D7=A6=D7=A8=D7=A3, a refining pot.
and a furnace is for gold A vessel in which gold is refined, a vessel in =
which gold is purified, like a broken pot, is called =D7=9B=D7=95=D7=A8, =
a furnace.
A refining pot is for silver, and a furnace is for gold The refining pot =
is made to refine silver for its work, and so is the furnace to purify =
the gold,
but [peoples=E2=80=99] hearts-the Holy One, blessed be He, purifies them =
and tests them and knows their thoughts.
4. An evildoer hearkens to a language of violence; a liar lends an ear =
to destructive language.
An evildoer A wicked man.
hearkens to a language of violence and lies He accepts slander and false =
testimony.
lends an ear Heb. =D7=9E=D7=96=D7=99=D7=9F like =
=D7=9E=D7=90=D7=96=D7=99=D7=9F He who lies lends an ear to destructive =
speech.
5. He who mocks a poor man blasphemes his Maker; he who rejoices at a =
misfortune will not go unpunished.
6. Children’s children are the crown of the aged, and the glory of the =
children is their fathers.
the crown of the aged when they see their children=E2=80=99s children =
going on the good way.
and the glory of the children is their fathers When their fathers are =
righteous, it is glory for the children.
7. Proud words do not befit a vile person, surely not lying speech a =
generous one.
Proud words Heb. =D7=A9=D7=A4=D7=AA =D7=99=D7=AA=D7=A8, words of pride.
surely not lying speech a generous one And surely, lying speech does not =
befit a generous one.
8. A bribe is a precious stone in the eyes of the one who has it; =
wherever he turns, he prospers.
a precious stone When a person comes before the Holy One, blessed be He, =
and placates Him with words and returns to Him, in His eyes it is as a =
precious
stone and as pearls.
a precious stone It is as a pearl in his eyes.
wherever he turns, he prospers In whatever he asks of Him, He makes him =
prosper.
9. He who conceals transgression seeks love, but he who harps on a =
matter alienates the Lord.
He who conceals transgression seeks love If one man sins against =
another, and the latter conceals it for him, does not remind him of his =
sin, and does not
show him an angry face, he causes him to love him.
but he who harps on a matter Who bears a grudge and reminds him, =
=E2=80=9CYou did such and such a thing to me.=E2=80=9D =
Immediately=E2=80=A6
alienates the Lord Then he alienates the Lord of the world.
10. The humility caused by the rebuke of an understanding person [is =
more effective] than a hundred blows to a fool.
The humility caused by the rebuke of an understanding person Heb. =
=D7=AA=D7=97=D7=AA. The accent in the word =D7=AA=D7=97=D7=AA is above =
on the =E2=80=9Ctav,=E2=80=9D unlike the rest of the Scriptures.
Therefore, I say that it is a noun, like =D7=AA=D7=97=D7=AA and its =
explanation is as follows. The humility caused by a rebuke is =
recognizable in an understanding person
more than one hundred blows that they strike the fool.
11. He who is only rebellious seeks evil, and a cruel angel shall be =
sent against him.
He who is only rebellious seeks evil One whose every word is =
rebelliousness and stubbornness constantly seeks evil.
12. May a bereaving bear encounter a person rather than a fool with his =
folly.
May a bereaving bear encounter a person It is better for a person that a =
bereaving bear encounter him rather than one of the foolish heathens, =
who entice
him to idolatry.
13. He who repays evil for good-evil will not depart from his house.
14. The beginning of strife is like letting out water, and before you =
are exposed, abandon the quarrel.
The beginning of strife is like letting out water Whoever commences a =
quarrel is like one who opens a hole in the stone walls of a water =
canal, and the
water goes out through it, and the hole becomes progressively wider; so =
does the quarrel constantly escalate.
and before you are exposed Before your shame is exposed, abandon the =
quarrel.
15. He who vindicates the wicked and condemns the righteous-both are an =
abomination to the Lord.
16. Why is there a price in the fool’s hand to buy wisdom, when the =
heart is not here?
Why is there a price in the fool=E2=80=99s hand to buy wisdom To learn =
the Torah.
when the heart is not here In his heart, he has no intention of =
fulfilling it, and he learns only to gain a reputation.
17. At all times, love a friend, for he is born a brother for adversity.
At all times, love a friend You should always love friends, i.e., to =
acquire people who love you.
for he is born a brother for adversity At the time of adversity, the =
friend will be born to you as a brother, to help you and to participate =
in your adversity.
18. A person without sense clasps hands; he becomes surety before his =
neighbor.
A person without sense clasps hands [This refers to] surety of money. =
Another explanation: He clasps with the wicked to go in their ways, =
while he is already
a guarantor for his friend. He already accepted surety for the Holy One, =
blessed be He, to keep His commandments.
19. He who delights in transgression delights in quarrels; he who speaks =
haughtily seeks disaster.
He who delights in transgression to sin against his friend.
delights in quarrels To quarrel and strive.
he who speaks haughtily lit. he who raises his opening, speaks with =
haughtiness, as in (Micah 7:5) =E2=80=9Cguard the openings of your =
mouth.=E2=80=9D
20. He who is of a perverse heart will find no good, and he who has a =
hypocritical tongue will fall into evil.
21. He who begets a fool, does so to his sorrow; neither will the father =
of a vile man rejoice.
22. A happy heart enhances one’s brilliance, and a broken spirit dries =
the bones.
A happy heart enhances one=E2=80=99s brilliance Heb. =D7=92=D7=94=D7=94. =
When a person is satisfied with his lot, his countenance shines.
23. He will take a bribe from a wicked man’s bosom, to pervert the roads =
of justice.
He will take a bribe from a wicked man=E2=80=99s bosom The Holy One, =
blessed be He, accepts words of humility and appeasement from the bosom =
of the wicked; i.e.,
in secret, between Him and them.
to pervert the roads of justice To overturn his verdict from evil to =
good.
24. Wisdom is directly in front of an understanding man, but the eyes of =
a fool are at the end of the earth.
Wisdom is directly in front of an understanding man The wisdom is =
directly in front of an understanding man.
but the eyes of a fool are at the end of the earth saying, =
=E2=80=9CWisdom is inaccessible to me [lit. The wisdom is not found =
before me] because it is far from
me. How will I be able to learn the Order Nezikin, which consists of =
thirty chapters; Tractate Kelim, consisting of thirty chapters; Tractate =
Shabbath,
consisting of twenty-four chapters?=E2=80=9D But, for the wise man, it =
is an easy matter: =E2=80=9CToday I learn two chapters and tomorrow two =
chapters.=E2=80=9D And he says,
=E2=80=9CThis is what those who preceded me from time immemorial =
did.=E2=80=9D
25. A foolish son causes anger to his father, and bitterness to her who =
bore him.
A foolish son causes anger to his father [A foolish son] like Jeroboam =
causes anger to the Holy One, blessed be He.
and bitterness to her who bore him To the people of Israel, whom he =
caused to sin.
26. To punish also the righteous man is not good-to strike the generous =
who possess uprightness.
To punish also the righteous man is not good The Holy One, blessed be =
He, did not decide to obliterate the name of Israel from upon the earth, =
as it was
not good in his sight to punish all of them.
to strike the generous who possess uprightness To strike the good people =
among them, who were generous and possessing uprightness, as it is said =
(I Kings
19: 18): =E2=80=9CAnd I will leave over in Israel seven thousand-all the =
knees that did not kneel to the Baal.=E2=80=9D
the generous who possess uprightness Heb. =
=D7=A0=D7=93=D7=99=D7=91=D7=99=D7=9D =D7=A2=D7=9C=D7=99 =
=D7=99=D7=A9=D7=A8, an analogy of what is stated elsewhere (Isa. 32:8): =
=E2=80=9CBut the generous person plans generous deeds,
and he, because of generous deeds, shall stand.=E2=80=9D We find =
=E2=80=9Ca generous man because of generous deeds.=E2=80=9D
27. He who has knowledge keeps back his words; he whose breath is dear =
is a man of understanding.
keeps back his words He who has knowledge does not talk excessively.
he whose breath is dear (Whose words are dear; Salonica ed.) He who =
keeps back his words is a man of understanding.
28. He who silences even a fool is considered a wise man; one who shuts =
his lips, a man of understanding.

  

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SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM

Day 1 – Loshon Hora: A Definition

Loshon Hora (lit. evil talk) is defined as information which is either
derogatory or potentially harmful to another individual. A derogatory
statement about someone is loshon hora, even if it will definitely not
cause that person any harm. To focus on the shortcomings of another person
is itself wrong.

A statement that could potentially bring harm to someone – be it financial,
physical, psychological or otherwise – is loshon hora, even if the
information is not negative.

(It should be noted that the term loshon hora refers even to true
statements which are derogatory or harmful. Negative statements that are
untrue or inaccurate are termed hotzaas shem ra, slander.)

  

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Food for the Soul

“One who guards his mouth and tongue, guards his soul from tribulations”
(Mishlei 21:23).

“Which man desires life, who loves days of seeing good? Guard your tongue
from evil and your lips from speaking deceit…” (Tehillim 34:13-14).

Why do the above verses single out shmiras haloshon, guarding one’s tongue,
as the key to a good life in both worlds?

The human body is composed of 248 organs and 365 sinews. Corresponding to
this are the 248 spiritual organs and 365 spiritual sinews of the soul. As
Scripture states: “You clothe me with skin and flesh, cover me with bones
and sinews” (Iyov 10:11). The various parts of the body are referred to as
“clothing” and “covering” for they clothe and cover the soul within man.
Each physical organ corresponds to a specific aspect of the soul.

Hashem has given us 248 positive commandments and 365 negative commandments
which relate to the particular parts of the body with which they are
performed.1 By performing a given mitzvah through a given organ, a
spiritual light comes to rest upon the corresponding component of the soul;
it is from this light that this component draws eternal vitality.

Thus, when a person fulfills all the Torah’s commandments, he transforms
himself into an adam hashaleim, man of spiritual perfection, whose every
fiber is sanctified unto Hashem.

The converse is true as well. If a person commits a transgression and does
not repent for it, then the component of the soul which corresponds to that
prohibition will suffer accordingly.

1. See opening introduction to Sefer Chareidim.

Note: The idea that the human body is composed of 248 organs and 365 sinews
is not meant to contradict established medical understanding, but to make a
homeletical point.

  

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Day 1 – The Source of Exile
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM – Preface

The Chofetz Chaim begins his classic sefer, Chofetz Chaim, by painting a
picture of the world and our place in it. He begins: Hashem separated us as
a nation. He gave us His precious Torah and brought us into Eretz Yisrael
(the Land of Israel). Why? For what purpose were we chosen? The Chofetz
Chaim answers that we were chosen to perform Hashem’s mitzvos
(commandments) and thereby earn enormous goodness and reward in this world
and the next.

The Chofetz Chaim notes, however, that Hashem gives us His gifts in a
manner that is totally different from that of a human being. A person who
presents a gift and then sees that the recipient does not appreciate its
value, might feel inclined to take the item back. He might reason that if
the recipient does not recognize its value, the gift should go to someone
who does recognize it. Hashem, however, acts differently. When in earlier
generations He saw that we did not appreciate His Torah, He sent us
prophets to help us recognize the value of this most precious gift.

When the era of prophecy came to an end at the start of the Second Temple
period, we still lived in our precious Land and the Divine Presence still
rested in the Beis HaMikdash (the Holy Temple), providing us with a golden
opportunity to serve Hashem and fulfill all His commandments in the way
that He desires. But we became entangled in a web of sinas chinam (baseless
hatred) and loshon hora (derogatory speech). And because of disunity
brought about by these sins our Beis HaMikdash was destroyed and we were
exiled from our Land.

The Chofetz Chaim states: “From then until now, each and every day, we pray
to Hashem that He should bring us near to Him, as He promises many times
throughout His Torah. Yet He has not answered our pleas.”

The Chofetz Chaim concludes that we are the ones who are to blame for this.
The 2,000-year-old exile is not a continuous punishment for the sins of
those who lived during the Second Temple era. Hashem stands ready to end
the exile immediately – were it not for the sins of sinas chinam and loshon
hora which continue to wreak destruction among our people.