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Parshas Metzora 5774
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April 4, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 25
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Dvar Torah

The Power of Speech 


By Rabbi Yerachmiel Lichtman



In last week's Parsha, we are taught that one who is afflicted with a nega tzora'as turns to the kohen for his prognosis, tamei or tahor (pure or impure). The Chafetz Chaim points out that with merely one word, either tamei or tahor, the person's fate is decided. If the symptoms presented are indeed tzora'as, the leper is quarantined for a week, away from civilization. This lesson is taught by King Solomon in Mishlei (18:21). "Chaim u'maves beyad halashon," "Life and death are in the power of the tongue." With just one word one can rejuvenate a soul, or heaven forbid the opposite. To illustrate the power of speech the Chafetz Chaim tells a parable of a fabric factory with 248 machines. This factory has sewing machines, weaving devices, machines for stitching and many other sewing equipment. There was one machine that affected all other machinery. If this specific device were to malfunction, all others would deteriorate. The 248 machines represent our 248 positive commandments. Our special "machine" is our power of speech. If we do not guard our tongues properly, the mitzvos we perform will be less effective.


 The Talmud teaches us the reason for tzora'as. Tzora'as is a punishment for speaking lashon horah. The word metzorah is an acronym for the words "motzi rah", slander. Our sages tell us that Hashem is exacting in His measures of punishment and reward. This is known as midah k'neged midah, measure for measure. How is leprosy a measure for measure punishment for speaking lashon horah? There is an idea found in Sefer Midas Yaakov that the face of one who becomes embarrassed turns white. Slander and derogatory speech has this effect. Hashem therefore punishes the slanderer with a white spot on his body, midah k'neged middah.


Reb Efraim Shapiro explains that the feeling of humiliation can fill a person with loneliness. When one is disgraced from lashon horah or ona'as devarim (hurtful words) he feels singled out and alone. The baal lashon horah is therefore punished with "badad yeishev," isolation. This separation period is intended to allow him to reflect on the impact of his words. This introspection will ultimately serve as an atonement for his sin.


Let us understand what makes lashon harah so detrimental and why our sages speak so strongly against it. King David in Psalms (chapter 120), compares speaking slander, to the shooting of an arrow. Rabeinu Yonah explains the basic difference between a sword and an arrow. If one strikes with a sword, he can always pull back if he is overcome with mercy. This is not the case with an arrow. Once an arrow leaves the bow, it cannot be retracted. Evil words are like the arrow, once a disparaging remark escapes man's lips, the harm is done.


The Nesivos Shalom points out that no parent wants to hear a negative comment about their child. We are all the children of The Almighty. We should keep this in mind before opening our mouths to speak about others. If we were to speak negatively about another Jew (chas vishalom), we would cause pain to "Our Father in Heaven."


There is a story told about the ChafetzChaim and his son in law, R' Tzvi Levinson, who were fundraising for the Yeshivah in Radin. At one point during their trip, they met with one of the wealthy men of Moscow. The three men sat and discussed the Yeshivah's needs. In the middle of their conversation, R' Tzvi excused himself and went into a nearby room in order to draft an urgent telegram. The ChafetzChaim noted that the people in the next room drafting telegrams calculated each and every word. This was because they will be required to pay for each and every word.  Similarly, we are held accountable for every word and should keep this in mind each time we begin to speak words that could balance our account to the negative.







Dvar Halacha

 Halachos of Pesach      Part 3



By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


 The Rambam [Hil' Chometz U'matzah 7:6-7] writes that each person is supposed to view himself as if he personally was a slave who has been freed from Mitzrayim.  Therefore, we are required to eat and drink while reclining to act like a free man (Shulchan Aruch 472:2).


The opinion of the Ravyah is that nowadays since people generally do not lean while eating, one is not required to lean (Mishneh Berurah 472:12).  L'halachah one is required to lean, however, women are not required to lean because they can rely on the Ravyah's opinion (Rama 472:4).  It is important to note, if a woman wants to lean, she may, and it is considered praiseworthy (Kaf Hachaim 472:28).  The Sefer Shloshim Yom Kodem Hachag [pg. 91 ftnt. 37] writes that many wives of Gedolim [including the Chasam Sofer, Chazon Ish and Steipler Goan] did lean.  A child who has reached the age of chinuch, should lean (Koveitz Halachos 21:12).


There are certain people who are not allowed to lean, since it is not considered proper to lean in front of specific people.  A student who is in his Rebbe's presence, even if this is not his primary teacher, should not lean (Shulchan Aruch 472:5), since he should have an awe of his Rebbe, comparable to awe of heaven (Mishneh Berurah 472:15).  The same halachah applies if one is in the presence of a great Talmud Chacham even if he is not his Rebbe.  If the Rebbe verbalizes that he is forgoing his own honor, than the student is required to lean (Shulchan Aruch 472:5).  A son is required to lean in front of his father, even if his father is his primary teacher (Shulchan Aruch 472:5), since one's father most probably will forgo his honor (Mishneh Berurah 472:14).  The same applies for a son in the presence of his mother (Dirshu MB quoting Harav Y.S. Eliyashuv, zt"l).  An avel (mourner) is required to lean (Mishneh Berurah 472:13).


To be considered leaning, one needs to lean both his head and body towards his left side, on a pillow or bed (Mishneh Berurah 472:7).  If one does not have any pillows [e.g. a poor person] he should lean on what he is sitting on [e.g. a chair or bench].  A person should not lean on his right side (Shulchan Aruch 472:3), either because it is not considered cheirus to lean on your stronger side or out of concern that the food will go down the trachea and not the esophagus (Mishneh Berurah 472:10).  A left-handed person must also lean on his left (Rama 472:3). 


One is required to lean while drinking the daled kosos (Shulchan Aruch 475:7) eating motzai matzah, korech (Shulchan Aruch 475:1) and the Afikomen (Shulchan Aruch 477:1).  There is a machlokes whether one needs to lean by karpas.  Most Poskim hold that one does not (Kaf Hachaim 473:114).  One is not required to lean while eating maror (Shulchan Aruch 475:1), since it is a remembrance of the slavery in Egypt (Mishneh Berurah 475:14).  If one wants to lean while eating maror, he may (Mishneh Berurah 475:14).

The Rama [472:7] writes it is preferable to recline while eating and drinking during Shulchan AruchL'maaseh, the minhag nowadays is not to (Halichos Shlomo 9: Orchos Rabbeinu: 135).  This was the practice of many Gedolim of the previous generations, including Harav Moshe Feinstein, Chazon Ish, Steipler Goan and Harav S.Z. Auerbach, zt"l (Koveitz Halachos 21:ftnt. 5).


If one did not lean while drinking the second cup of daled kosos, he should drink another cup, without making the brachah.  If it happened on the third or fourth cup, one should not drink again (Rama 472:7).  Regarding the first cup [Kiddush], if one had in mind before drinking the first cup to drink wine in between the first and second cups, he should drink the cup again.  If not, he should not (Mishneh Berurah 472:21).  If one did not lean when eating matzah, he must eat one kzayis (Mishneh Berurah 472:22) of matzah again without a brachah (Shulchan Aruch & Rama 472:7).  It suffices to eat the smaller shiur for kzayis [the amount for mitzvos mederabban since he fulfilled his mitzvah me'deoraisa] (Koveitz Halachos 21:22).


If one did not lean by korech, he does not need to eat again (Koveitz Halachos 21:23 quoting Pri Chadash).  If one did not lean while eating the Afikomen, according to many Poskim, he does not need to eat again (Aruch Hashulchan 477:4).  The opinion of the Mishneh Berurah is unclear (see 472:22 & 477:4).


When preparing for Pesach, it is very important to check all labels before purchasing any Pesach products to ensure they are kosher certified for Pesach.  Additionally, unless one is purchasing maror which has been checked for bugs, one must check them.









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