See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
Tzvi FishmanBefore making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter....
When animals are confronted by danger, they instinctively flee. In contrast, man will often rush forward without a second thought, as if there were no consequence to his actions. According to the tenets of Judaism, one of the consequences is Heavenly Judgment.
The elder Kabbalist, Rabbi Leon Levi, warned a large gathering at the Kotel on Rosh Chodesh night that the judgment of Rosh Hashanah is only a few weeks away. In the meantime our lives are hanging in a precarious balance. Not only our lives, he emphasized, but the lives of our marriage partners and children. Our deeds affect them too. Now is the time to start a serious, heartfelt accounting, the holy Rabbi proclaimed in a voice resonating with a tangible concern for the People of Israel.
The Kabbalist said that out of G-d's great kindness, He has given us the month of Elul to atone for misdeeds and to put our lives back on a holier, healthier track.
The past two weeks, there has been a rash of fatal traffic accidents in Israel. The police and Ministry of Transportation are demanding more funds to combat this very grave national problem. But Rabbi Levi said that the true of cause of the accidents isn’t because of the condition of the highways or the recklessness of the drivers, but because of our sins.
“An accident that happens today was already written down in the Book of Judgment last Rosh Hashanah,” the Rabbi declared. “Now is the time to wake up and return to our Father in Heaven, because, whether someone wants to believe it or not, there is judgment for all of our deeds," This is why we say in our Yom Kippur prayers, "Who will live and who will die; who is his time and who not in his time; who by water and who by fire; who by sword and who by beast....”
This week’s Torah portion of “Shoftim” begins with the command: “Judges and policemen you shall appoint for yourselves in all of your gates….” Rabbi Levy said that according to an inner meaning of the text, “gates” is referring to our openings to the world – our mouth, eyes, nose, and ears. These all have “policemen” that can guard over them and close them like gates. These “policemen” are our lips, eyelids, earlobes, and nostrils, which can serve as protective shields. But if a person allows forbidden things to enter or exit these “gates” without supervision, then they turn into his “judges,” condemning him for his evil doings when the Day of Judgment arrives.
For instance, our eyes. Rabbi Leon used the cell phone as an example. He said that cell phones that were connected to the Internet, and its sea of forbidden images, were severing thousands of Jewish people from the G-d of Israel, especially young Jewish Torah students who were so polluting their souls with pornographic images that they could no longer focus on their learning.
Rabbi Leon explained that according to the Kabbalah our eyes are connected to the highest spiritual worlds, and that by looking at forbidden images we bring a great impurity upon our souls, and bring a terrible pollution to all of the exalted spiritual channels that bring blessing to the nation, severing our connection to everything holy. “This is the most dangerous spiritual threat to the Jewish Nation since Amalek attacked us on the way out of Egypt,” he declared, explaining that Amalek’s strategy was to lure the Jewish People into sexual sin and thus weaken our protective connection to G-d.
Regarding our mouths, Rabbi Levy said that to the same extent that we guard over the things that go into our mouths, making sure that foods have the finest certificates of kashrut, we have to guard over what comes out of our mouths as well.
Speaking badly about other people (lashon hara) is like signing one’s own death warrant. “In our days, the punishment doesn’t come right away,” he said, “Because G-d, in his great mercy, gives us time to repent. But don’t think that everything is rosy and that there won’t come a day of judgment. The Day of Judgment is coming, and it is only a matter of time until the traffic accident, or devastating sickness, or tragedy to one of the children strikes, may G-d have mercy, he said.
In the same way that speaking lashon hara can kill, hearing lashon hara can also have disastrous consequences.
That is why we have earlobes, to close them over our ears if somebody we are talking to starts to speak badly about someone else. Spoken words may seem to only be made out of air, but the words of lashon hara are like invisible daggers. Beware!
OK, OK. Everyone can understand that one’s eyes and mouth and ears can lead a person astray. But his nose? Why do I need a policeman to watch over my nose? Well, among other things, the Hebrew word for nose, “Aph,” also means “wrath.” Ever see a picture of a snorting bull with the anger steaming out of its nose? The supreme Kabbalist master, the Arizal, taught that anger is the most damaging character trait, causing the Divine soul to flee the body and an impure, bestial soul to takes its place.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Day of Judgment is coming. In the meantime, Shabbat Shalom.