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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Parshas Shmini
Volume 24

Reprove yourself first, and then reprove others.

Avoid indecent speech.

Insights on life: Reprove yourself first, then reprove others. This is the commentary of our Sages, of blessed memory, on the "gathered together, gather" (Zephaniah 2:1).

It says in the Talmud, Tractate Avodah Zorah: "Reish Lakesh said: Gather yourself, then afterwards, gather others." Rashi comments, "So it says, concerning the mitzvah of circumsion. For it says, 'He shall surely be circumsed' ('Hamul Yamul'); this teaches that only someone who is circumsised shall circumsise others." Likewise, concerning the mitzvah of reproval, one should reprove himself, then reprove others.

When one reproves himself first, and then others, his reproval is accepted. For his reproval stems from humility, as he reproved himself, becoming humble, before reproving others. But reproval rooted in arrogance is vain, as our Sages, of blessed memory, teach us, "He who is arrogant, he cannot even reprove his own household."


Source in the Parsha: "And provide atonement for yourself and the people" (Leviticus 9:7).

The Ramban comments, "First, atone for yourself, with your sacrafice; then, atone for the masses, when you offer a sacrafice on their behalf. Therefore, we learn that 'the worthy will come, and atone for the guilty.' This is the attribute of judgment, that the worthy should atone for the guilty..."


Insights on life: Avoid indecent speech, for the Torah specifically avoids using crude or vulgar speech, as much as possible, especially in this verse, "of the clean animal, of the animal that is not clean" (Genesis 7:8); the Torah says, "not clean," as oppossed to, "contaminated."

One should always use a clean and proper speach... as is writen "Your sinfulness dictates your speach, So you choose crafty language"(Job 15:5); and it says "My words bespeak the uprightness of my heart; My lips utter insight honestley" (Job 33:3).

One must avoid indecent speech, but, concerning the study of Halacha, one must be as explicit as necessary. Whatever terminology is necessary to understand the Law, this is permissible and required. (For instance, designating something as 'contaminated,' as opposed to 'not clean'.) One shouldn't worry about indecent language, in understanding and studying the Law; yet nor should he use vulgar language, more so than necessary.


Source in the Parsha: "These are the contaminated ones" (Leviticus 11:29).

Rashi comments, "These are the contaminated to you, to seperate from the contaminated and the pure." (Rashi)

Secrets of the Torah:

"To distinguish between the contaminated and pure, between the animal that may be eaten and that which may not be eaten... when a woman concieves, giving birth to a male" (Leviticus 11:47,12:2).

The Gra expounds on this verse: "The law establishes that a pregnant woman who smells 'impure' food, and desires it, we allow her to eat it, until her desire ceases; otherwise, harmful consequences might, God forbid, injure her and/or her child, the embryo."

The Gra continues: "We find a relevant story in the Talmud (Yoma): Once, a pregnant woman smelled food on Yom Kippur. [Onlookers] came before Rebbe, who said: 'Go, and whisper in her ear, that today is Yom Kippur, so perhaps she will restrain from eating.' So, they went, and whispered this into her ear, and immediately, the child (in the stomach) calmed down, and the desire ceased. Who was this baby? Rabbi Yochanan! Similarly, in another incident, Rabi Chaninah ordered onlookers to whisper the same words into the ear of another pregnant woman, craving food on Yom Kippur. They did, but their efforts were fruitless, having not influence on the child. This lady gave birth to a wicked man."

"This," teaches the Gra, "is hinted in the verse, 'to seperate between the pure and impure.' If you wish to make this distincition, you must distinguish between the animal 'that may be eaten' (in one verse, the Torah likens a woman in labor to an animal, like it says "...women, for they are experts (lit. animals); before the midwives come to them they have given birth)'' - this is the women who desires to eat impure meat, a sign that her child will be impure; and between the animal 'that may not be eaten' - the women who does not desire impure meat, a sign that her child will be pure. What verse follows? "When a woman concieves, and gives birth to a male" (Leviticus 12:2).

"Eye for eye, tooth for tooth."

In the days of the Rav Shrira Gaon, one particular wealthy man posessed the ultimate treasure, a Sefer Torah written by the scribe, Ezra. This wealthy man had two sons, who loved eachother dearly. When he passed away, however, confrontation arose, as each son desired the cherished scroll of Ezra the Scribe.

Each son, adamant in his desire for the scroll, refused to compromise, so they went to the Jewish authorities. Rav Shrira, the head of the Beit Din, decided to settle the matter by lotters. The brothers both argued. The lots were drawn: the older brother inherited the wealth of his father, while the younger inherited the holy, cherished scroll of Ezra the Scribe - the priceless treasure. Joy filled the heart of the second son, for although he did not inherit much wealth like his older brother, he now posessed a scroll from Ezra the Scribe! Unfortunately, despite his lavish inheritance, the older brother was devestated.

A heretic, living in the community, heard of the entire contreoversy, and became aggravated. "Who cares about a Torah scroll!" His frustration grew and grew, developing into outright rage - "I will destroy this scroll," he resolved, fuming with frustration His annoyance grew and grew, developing into outright rage. "I will destroy this scroll," he resolved, fuming hysterically. "Who cares about some absurd parchment?"

He hid in the synagouge, which housed the Torah of Ezra the scribe. When all the congergation left, he stood up, went to the holy ark, and removed the Torah scroll of Ezra the Scribe.

He opened it, at the verse, "And you shall worship (va'avadtem) other gods." He erased one letter, for doing so would render the whole scroll unusable. He changed the 'ayin' with an 'aleph' from this verse....

The next day, during the Torah reading in the morning, the reader noticed the mistake. "Wait... this is an aleph! Impossible, it should be any ayin! Oye Veh!"

The owner of the scroll was devestated. "This scroll is certainly not from Ezra the Scribe, if it is flawed... this treasure, my priceless gem - a fake! Aah!" Lethal ilness afflicted his body, as his soul ached, in pain. But, one night, groaning in bed, in the midst of his pain and suffering, his father appeared to him in a dream. "My son, do not dispare. Ezra the Scribe is the writer of this scroll. But a wicked heretic changed the letter, destroying it, rendering it useless."

His father appeared in a dream the next night, also. "Listen, go to the synagouge, and you will find a human eye lying next to the Bimah. This is the right eye of the accursed heritic, which fell out, as soon as he desecrated the holy Torah. He was punished, according to his deed. For he erased an 'ayin' - this coressponds to the eye. So, as Torah says, "eye for eye ('ayin tachat 'ayin), etc" Unfortunately, we can not rectify the damage, of the scroll of Ezra the Scribe, but don't despair, for everything is all for the best, my son.

Indeed, the next morning, to his great suprise, the son discovered a human eye, staring blindly to the ceiling, resting on the ground next to the Bimah, just as his father assured him.

"Through those near to Me, I show Myself holy, and gain glory before all the people."

Many years ago, in the city of Tripoli, the Arabs would routinely massacre the Jewish community. The Arabs would especially assault any Jew walking in the streets, near their neighberhoods. Of course, in response to the Arab agression, the persistant, cruel savagry, the Jews would retaliate, asserting their ability to remain strong, and hoping to prevent further agression. So, indeed, tension imbued the air, haunting the citizens of Tripoli.

Once, Rav Abraham Chaviv passed near the Arab quarters, returning home at night to his house. A mob of rowdy Arab youth, loafing in the streets, noticed the Rav. One particular large, disgusting Arab, named Galicia, stopped boasting of his "power" and the size of his quadcepts, when he saw the Rav. To the best of his ability, he tried to think, "Hmm... I see an old, weak man. Hmm. I'll beat him, ha! I'm strong, big! He's old. Hmm... beat him... Funny, ha, ha"

Never had any Arab dared threaten the Rav. His face blazed with holiness, radiating wisdom, virtually blinding anyone who dared to gaze. Even the Arabs, insensitive to all holiness, feared the Rav. Yet Galicia, who had attained high, unsurpassed heights of beastly,vulgar barbarism, did not fear the Rav, whatsoever. Galicia declared, "Ha! I make joke! You, you all 'fraid of him? Ha! Not me! I strong, big! I no fear. Look at me, how strong, how big!" His friends warned him, for the Rav, the old Jewish Sage, terrified them. "Ha! I make joke! I no 'fraid! He just old man, but I big, strong. And I want honor! Just watch..."

The Rav slowly strolled towards the mob, oblivious to his surroundings. Words of Torah flowed from his smiling lips, while his thougths were focused on high. Galicia waited, impatiently. "Ha! I get him now! I tear him apart, like meat!"

As the Rav approached the savage, Galicia yanked his beard and tuggged his jacket. No more. The mob watched from afar, horrified. They scattered immediately, fleeing in all directions, as soon as the savage layed his filthy hands on the holy sage. "Galicia, not us, will bear the burden for touching a Jewish Sage, not us, not us! To massacre a Jew, this is one thing, to touch their sages, this is quite another!"

The crownd, the henchmen, watched from afar, awaiting the response. The scattered immediately, fearing the punishment which he would bring upon them, from hurting the sage. He will carry his punishment, not us - the powerful Garcia, they thought.

The Rav continued strolling, throughout this incident, not pausing or flinching whatsoever. Strangely, the Rav seemingly did not even notice the brute, the savage; his cheerful smile did not depart, not for a second.

In the meantime, one of the local Jews witnesed this affar. Outraged, he ran to gather his brothers, his fellow Jews, and shouted - "My brothers, not only did this brute touch a Jew, but he dared lay hands on the holy Rav, a sage of Israel. This, impure beast - how dare he lay his hand on a holy sage of Israel!!" Soon, a large crowd of angry Jews gathered around, discussing the incident. "Perhaps we should take action?" - such was the question in discussion. After contemplating the situation, and resolving that Galicia's crime musn't be disregarded, they began walking towards the Arab quarters.

Rav Chaviv spotted this group. They stopped, greeted their Rav, and informed him, "Rav, we must have justice. Can we allow this harrassment to continue?" The Rav, still smiling, lifted up his hand. Gently and softly, he said, "My children, don't be frustrated. This is not necessary. Have no fear, and return home." Needless to say, heeding the words of the Rav, the Jews returned home, certain that judgment would come from Heaven.

Early the next morning, before sunrise, the citizens of Tripoli awoke to horrendous shrieking, of an inhuman nature. The dreadful shouting, the cries of agony, echoed throught the streets of Tripoli, terrifying all. Then, there was silence - complete, utter silence. Slowly, the citizens of Tripoli left their homes, Jew and Arab alike, still petrified... but curious....

Crowds gathered at the scene, the probable source of the shrieking, the cyring. On the ground was a body, which once might have been human. The havoc wraught upon his body is far too gruesume to describe... As if some superhuman force devoured this man, he had, without doubt, experienced the worst torture concievable, slow and painful. Some monstrous beast must have commiteed this atrocity, some psychotic savage posessing surreal strength.

The police, after thorough investigation, identified the body as that of the Arab, Galicia. They were unsure of the exact cause or nature of death, of the malicious ravagement of Galicia. Of one thing, however, the Jews were certain - that the Arab, Galicia, as strong as he thought he was, didn't quite withstand the decrees of Heaven.

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