Hear and Your Soul Shall Live
Insights on life from the weekly Parsha.

By: Rav Moshe Weber, Shlita, Editor: Rabbi I. Ido Weber Erlich, Shlita
Eng. Translation: Emanuel Behar, Ari Chester

Portions of the following are included in the collection of tapes: "Shemu ViTachi Nafshechem". To obtain them, call: 02-828284, or e-mail: weber@shemayisrael.co.il

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Shelach Vol 30.

Trust and believe in Hashem, "For, compassionate and gracious, He desires kindness, and pardons abundantly."

The Torah commands us to refrain from 'Loshon Hara,' an evil tongue.

Insight on life: Trust and believe in Hashem, "For, compassionate and gracious, He desires kindness, and pardons abundantly."

The Baal HaTanya writes, "In every Shemona Esrai, we plead, 'Forgive us...' and conclude 'Blessed are You, Hashem, gracious and generous in pardon.' Without the certainty of pardon, this would be a doubtful blessing, which we do not recite, lest we make a blessing in vain. But there is no doubt here, whatsoever... Furthermore, were we not to repeat our transgressions, we would be immediately redeemed, in accordance with the ensuing blessing, 'Blessed are You, Hashem, Who redeems Israel'" (Igerret HaTeshuva, 11).

Source in the Parsha: "We cannot ascend to that people; for it is too strong for us" (Bamidbar 13:31). Rashi explains, "Stronger than Above, they said..."

Why did the spies claim such nonsense, which even a child wouldn't foolishly believe? For nothing is "stronger" than Hashem, as they alleged; indeed, there is not comparison between the Creator and creation! Certainly, Hashem created the world in ten sayings, and, just as He created the world through His speech, so could He destroy the world through His speech.

The spies, therefore, could not possibly have suggested that the foreign people were stronger than Hashem. Rather, they reported that the measure of their severity (Gevurah) exceeded that of Hashem. To explain, Hashem rules the world in Judgment, but He could not accept the repentance of the Jews of Egypt, so to speak, based only on His attribute of Gevurah - of harshness, of severity/judgment. The spies, therefore, claimed that Hashem redeemed the Jews from Egypt as vengance for their sins. So the verse says, they "slandered in their tents, and said: Out of hatred, Hashem redeemed us from Egypt, to give us to the Amorites, to destroy us." The Soforno explains, "[they said:] Hashem's hatred us for our idol worship in Egypt; so, although He might have slaughtered the Amorites, He let us fall into their hands, avenging us."

However, the nation of Israel had repented for their Avodah Zorah (idol worship), like it says, "draw forth or buy for yourselves from the flock... and slaughter the pesach-offering" (Shemot 12:21). The Sages explain: Through this sacrafice, the Jews repented for their Avodah Zorah, since the cattle were the idols of Egypt. In sacrificing the cattle, the Jewish nation sacrificed the idols of Egypt. Surely, Hashem accepted their repentance .

Thus, the spies sinned through lack of faith, not trusting in Hashem's protection and mercy. They did not believe He had forgiven them for their Avodah Zorah, accepting their repentance in Egypt, since "compassionate and gracious, He desires kindness, and pardons abundantly"; "I will seek the death of the wicked, but in returning from his ways, he shall live."

Insight on life: The Torah commands us to refrain from Loshon Hara (an 'evil tongue').

"The sages say, 'three sins are punished in this world, and further, the sinner loses his portion in the World to Come. These are (1) idol worship, (2) forbidden relations, and (3) murder. But Loshon Hara is equivalent to all of them!' Further, 'Anyone who speaks Loshon Hara, it is as if he denies Hashem, like it says: They said, with our tongues we will prevail, [for] our lips are with us; who is master over us? (Psalms 12). Moreover, the sages warn, 'Loshon Hara kills threefold, destroying the speaker, the listener, and the victim (the subject of the gossip), hurting the listener even more than the speaker... Suppose one says something about his brother which is not quite Loshon Hara. Yet, as his statement passes from person to person, it eventually does cause harm or trouble, fright or hurt to his brother -- this is Loshon Hara." (from: the Rambam)

The gravity of Loshon Hara, as well as advice to avoid this dreadful transgression, is discussed in the classic, Chofetz Chiam. Indeed, who desires life? "Guard your tongue from evil (Loshon Hara), your lips from speaking deceitfully" (Psalms 34) - and study the famous classic, Chofetz Chiam. The Torah advises us that to remember the act of Miriam, each day, to avoid transgressing this horrid prohibition. Miriam spoke Loshon Hara against Moshe - unintentionally, says Rashi; Hashem punished her, accordingly. In fact, the Ramban considers remembering the deed of Miriam as a positive commandment from the Torah, each day. "Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way, as you came out of Egypt."

The Shulchan Aruch tells us: When one recites the words, "that we may praise you," in the blessings before Shema in Shacrit (the morning service), the Arizal advises to meditate that "Hashem created the mouth only to thank and praise [His glorious name], not to speak Loshon Hara." We thereby remember the deed of Miriam. (Magen Avraham, Shulchan Aruch)

The Arizal, above, helps us understand the sages, who warn, "the speakers of Loshon Hara, (it is as if) they deny Hashem." Why? He who uses his tongue for evil designs, he considers his mouth a vessel for victory and conquest, like an ox who gores with it's horns, like a lion who strikes with his claws, for in his thoughts he denies his source, the Source of all creation, Hashem; so says the verse, "this nation, I formed for Me, so My glory they will tell." Thus, one must specifically meditate on avoiding Loshon Hara, says the Arizal, before Shema [when we testify to the Oneness of Hashem and our servitude to Him]. (From: Sefer Etz Avot, Rav Weber's grandfather, the Rav from Ada)


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