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Parshas Tazria / HaChodesh - Taking the Lessons to Heart      28 Adar II 5782

03/31/2022 03:46:32 PM

Mar31

With the passing of Rav Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Kanievsky zt”l, the Jewish world found itself at a loss. None of the eulogies could do justice to the greatness of this man. Many spoke in terms of his brilliance and how we have an obligation to fill the gap of Torah that he left behind. One of the main themes that one drew from the description of his life was how he was a “simple” Jew who just followed every single aspect of Torah and Halacha. Stories were told how he followed the directions given in all areas of Jewish law, including Shabbos, kashrus, honoring his parents, welcoming everyone with a smile, and mitzvos between man and man.

The death of a Tzadik is not merely a passing moment in time; it is an important reckoning for the Jewish people. There are several places in Torah that explain how the death of a Tzadik atones for the sins of the Jewish people and protects them from clamity. 

מיתת צדיקים מכפרת על ישראל - במסכת מועד קטן נאמר: "אמר רב אמי: 'למה נסמכה מיתת מרים לפרשת פרה אדומה? לומר לך - מה פרה אדומה מכפרת, אף מיתתן של צדיקים מכפרת'.

The death of Tzadikim Atones for Israel – The Gemara Moed Katan quotes Rav Ami: “Why was the death of Miriam juxtaposed to the portion of the Red Heifer? To teach us, just as the Red Heifer atones, so, too, the death of the righteous atones”.   מכפרת על ישראל כיום הכיפורים - בויקרא רבה נאמר עוד בענין זה: "בא' בניסן מתו בניו של אהרון, ולמה מזכיר מיתתן ביוהכ"פ? אלא מלמד שכשם שיום הכיפורים מכפר, כך מיתתן של צדיקים מכפרת"

Atones for the Jewish people like Yom Kippur – The Midrash Vayikra Rabba states: On the first of Nissan the sons of Aharon died, and why does it mention their death on Yom Kippur? To teach us that the same way the day of Yom Kippur atones, so, too, the death of the righteous atones”.

צדיק שראוי לכך נלקח על מנת לכפר על ישראל - על פטירת צדיקים מובא בילקוט לך לך דבריו של הקדוש ברוך הוא: "אמר הקב"ה לאברהם אבינו: 'בשעה שבניך באים לידי עבירות ומעשים רעים, אני רואה צדיק אחד שהוא יכול לומר למידת הדין: 'די', ואני נוטלו ומכפר עליהם'"

A Tzadik who is worthy of this is taken on condition to atone for Israel – The Yalkut Shimoni on the passing of a Tzadik says in parshas Lech L’cha the words of the Almighty are, “God said to Avraham, at a time that your children come to me with sins and terrible actions, I find one righteous person who could stand up and say to the heavenly court, ‘Enough’! And then Hashem takes him and atones for them”.

In this week’s Parshas Tazria the Torah’s main focus is about Tzoraas/Spiritual Leprosy. The Gemara Erchin 16a gives us a few reasons why a person would develop leprosy, first on his house, then on his clothing, and finally on his body. Perhaps the most famous reason a person would get Tzoraas is as punishment for speaking Loshan Hora, evil speech and slander. I find it interesting that in today’s world there is a heavy emphasis on the prevention of speaking Loshan Hora but very little about the remedy if one does speak Loshan Hora. (Thank goodness I and certainly no one else ever speak Loshan Hora! Yeh, right! Ooops, there ya go! That flippancy in it of itself is Loshan Hora. I would like to suggest through the following how to follow up and remedy this sin, which unfortunately, I believe, does not receive proper attention and  is not being addressed.   

Last Shabbos afternoon, I, too, gave a class titled ‘Reflections of Rav Chaim’. I was inspired to think a little more on fine-tuning some of the points that were highlighted by so many. I will share an incident that occurred last week which will more clearly act to illustrate the merit of Rav Chaim. Last week I was speaking with someone, and he said that such and such a person was at the wedding of my son in Baltimore a few months back. I quickly said, ”No he wasn’t.” We went back and forth until I remembered he was at the wedding. I quickly corrected myself and said ”Yes, I was mistaken.  He was at the wedding, I remember during the meal he came over to me and wanted to tell over a great dvar Torah that he had come up with.” I’m sure you know that I love to hear words of Torah, but it was not the time or place; I had to gently suggest that I would call him in a few days to hear all about it. (I did call him a few days later to listen to his words.)  My dear readers, by me repeating the way I remembered the gentleman at the wedding, is blatant lashon hora. There was NO need for me to repeat that, I should have said, yes, I remember he was at the wedding and close my mouth! It dawned upon me how there is so much emphasis on the prevention of the sin of Lashon hora, but much less attention on the correction. Therefore, to be true to my commitment, the very next day I called the gentleman and told over the entire incident and asked forgiveness. 

.אם אין מתעוררים לתשובה רעה באה לעולם על רעיון זה, שכפרת מיתת צדיקים מועילה רק עם ההתעוררות לתשובה, מבואר בדברי השל"ה הקדוש: "ובזה מתורצים שני מאמרים דסתרי אהדדי. רבותינו ז"ל אמרו (מועד קטן כח א) "מיתת צדיקים מכפרת". ובפרק חלק (סנהדרין קיג ב) אמרו, "צדיק אבד מהעולם, רעה באה לעולם", שנאמר (ישעיה נז, א) "הצדיק אבד ואין איש שם לב, ואנשי חסד נאספים באין מבין, כי מפני הרעה נאסף הצדיק'. אלא, לא קשיא, כשאין מתעוררים לתשובה רעה באה לעולם, וכשמתעוררים לתשובה אזי מיתתו מכפרת".

If we are not awakened to repent, bad things will come to the world – On this topic  - that the death of Tzadikim atones for the sins of the generation - such deep loss only helps when accompanied by an arousal of repentance. The Shela”h HaKodosh writes, “…and with this we can resolve an apparent contradiction of two statements. The Gemara Moed Katan 28a states that the death of the Tzadik atones while the Gemara Sanhedrin 113b states when a Tzadik is lost from this world, bad comes to the world. As it states in Yeshayahu 57:1 “The righteous man has perished, but no one takes it to heart, and men of kindness are taken away, with no one understanding that because of the evil the righteous man has been taken away.” An apparent contradiction arises:  does the Tzadik save the world, or is the Tzadik lost from the world? Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz answered this question with the explanation of the Alshich Hakadosh. The Alshich says a Tzadik truly perishes when nobody grows as a result of his passing (I don’t pay attention). But if the passing of the Tzadik is the medium by which I become a different, indeed a better person, then the Tzadik still has an existence permanence in the world: his influence continues to operate to elevate, to lift each of us”.    

Sadly, there are horrible things happening in our day and age;  we need to pay attention to the passing of Tzadikim such as Rav Chaim. We ask that he and all the greats going back to the patriarchs continue to be a Meilitz Yosher, the ambassadors and advocates of the living before God in the highest court to protect Klal Yisral. But we must realize, asking is not enough. We each need to improve in order to make his passing worthy of his protection.

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Tue, August 16 2022 19 Av 5782