Important Message: What is the connection between Tisha B’AV and Emes? Please join Rabbi Elya Brudny Shlita, Rabbi Paysach Krohn Shlita and Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum Shlita for an informative and inspiring Tisha B’AV video presentation. Please encourage your Shul to show this 30-minute presentation as part of their Tisha B’AV programing. Please contact [email protected] for further information.
In this week’s Parsha, the Bnot Tzlafchad are concerned about the legacy of their father and approach Moshe Rabbeinu about the laws of inheritance. “Why should our father's name be eliminated from his family because he had no son? Give us a portion along with our father's brothers.” (Bamidbar 27:4) In the next posuk, the Torah says that Moshe brought their “Mishpatan” THEIR case, before Hashem. But the word “Mishpatan” is written with a very large “Nun” at the end of the word. What is the reason for the large nun?
Rav Dovid Feinstein ZT”L provides a fascinating suggestion (Kol Dodi on Chumash). He writes that Moshe Rabbeinu suspected that the Bnot Tzlafchad were not being entirely truthful in arguing that their concern was for their father’s legacy. Moshe felt that a subtle part of their motivation was to inherit land for their own financial gain. The “nun” in the word, “mishpatan” translates to “their.” Moshe wrote a larger nun so that it would be clear to everyone that it referred to their case – “MishpataN” - since they had their own agenda.
Hashem corrected Moshe’s misconception. He answered, “Tzlafchad's daughters speak justly. You shall certainly give them a portion of inheritance along with their father's brothers, and you shall transfer their father's inheritance to them.”
We see from here Hashem’s Middas HaEmes. If someone’s intentions are correct and that person has been misunderstood, it is important to TELL everyone that the person’s intentions were true and proper. This is the reason, Rav Dovid Feinstein suggests, why this incident of the bnot Tzlafchad was recorded in the Torah: To record that Moshe erroneously assessed the bnot Tzlafchad’s motives as indicated by the larger nun that he wrote and then for Hashem to tell everyone of their true and proper motives. (Others believe that the reason why this section was recorded was to teach a halacha about inheritance. Reb Dovid believes that this halacha could have been taught in a different manner.)
There is a theory that dates back long ago, that the origin of the word, “lullaby” comes from the Yiddish WORDS - “Lilith Abi” – Lilith go away. Adam HaRishon’s first wife, Lilith, was attached to Adam before Hashem separated them. She later became a Shaid, a DAMAGING demon (see Shabbos 151b). Regardless of the etymological origin, there is an old Yiddish lullaby that contains the words, “Sleep, sleep, my girl, and I shall find you a suitable Chosson (groom).”
The following inspiring story regarding the Vilna Gaon is found in the biographical work “HaGaon” on page 49.
In the 1740’s the Vilna Gaon took upon himself a period of voluntary exile. Once, he stayed in a home where there was a baby girl who was crying in the middle of the night. The Vilna Gaon picked up the baby girl, and yes, sang her the soothing old Yiddish lullaby to get her back to sleep.
Years passed. When the girl was of marriageable age, the Vilna Gaon sent a young man to her parent’s home with a letter signed by the Vilna Gaon himself. It said:
“Years ago, your daughter was crying and I soothed her with the old Yiddish lullaby that ended with the words. ‘…and I shall find you a suitable Chosson (groom).’
The young man who bears this letter is a suitable groom. I am not saying that they should marry, but in the lullaby, i said that I will find you a suitable chosson – i have kept my word.”
Such was the Vilna Gaon’s commitment to everyday emes – always speaking truth! And by the way, they did end up marrying. The story was repeated by none other than Rav Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk.
Part of the parameters of “distancing oneself from Sheker” according to Rav Nachum Yavrov (Niv Sfasayim first edition, pp 131-132) is to distance oneself from anything that could lead one to lie. What follows is a series of summary rulings that Rav Yavrov provides. The numbering system is the author’s own.
Although the prohibition of “distancing” oneself from a lie (“distancing”) applies to anything that could lead one to lie, when that possibility is remote, then the prohibition does not apply.
Distancing applies even if the matter is not a definitive lie. as long as it is likely to be a lie, the prohibition applies.
Distancing also applies when the person’s heart indicates to him that the matter is a lie even if it is not yet known to be a lie.
Distancing also means that one cannot be the cause of someone else lying, even if this is brought about by being silent.
Distancing applies even if the person lies and has in mind to tell the truth afterward.
Distancing applies in a case where someone sees others whispering among themselves - it is forbidden to ask them what they were discussing, because it can cause them to lie.
Indeed, ideally one should not be around the location where people are whispering as this can launch events that might lead to a lie.
Distancing applies in a case where Reuvain invited Shimon to come to his house for an event and Shimon did not attend - it is forbidden for Reuvain to ask him why he did not attend, as this may cause Shimon to lie.
This week we continue the translation of the Chofetz Chaim’s sefer entitled, “Sfas Tamim.” Sefas Tamim, from which our foundation takes its name, focuses on the importance of honesty in both word and deed. We continue with Chapter One – Defining Deceit.
How hateful and disgusting is this trait [of lying] before Hashem, for because of it, Hashem throws him out from before Him! This is as the Pasuk says in Tehillim (101:7), “He shall not sit in the midst of My House, he who practices deceit, who speaks lies, will not be established before my eyes.”
Chazal further said (in a lost Midrash cited by Rav Yechiel ben Yekusiel Anav from Rome (late 1200’s to 1300’s), the author of Sefer Maalos HaMidos p. 26 under Midas HaRamaus), “a Moshol: To what can the matter be compared? To a king who sent out an edict throughout his kingdom: Whoever is untrustworthy within my kingdom – should leave my kingdom! And if not, his head shall be chopped off! So said the Holy One blessed be He: Whoever chases after lies, is not worthy of living in My world for I created this world with truth – without which this world cannot exist. And falsehood cannot dwell with truth.”
Chazal further stated (Yuma 69b), “The signet ring of the Holy One blessed be He is truth.” Now, certainly, if “truth” is what the Holy One blessed be He chose to establish in His signet ring, then how disgusting and debased is one who accustoms himself to the very opposite.
The Holy One cautioned us about keeping to the truth with a great warning and said (Zechariah 8:16-17): “Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates. And do not contrive evil against one another, and do not love lies, because all those are things that I hate—thus declares Hashem.”
Shlomo [HaMelech] peace be upon him said (Mishlei 12:19), “Truthful speech abides forever, but a lying tongue [lasts] for but a moment.” Herein, he warns about speech. In all situations, a person should employ only truth – and he must stay away from falsehood.
(to subscribe email [email protected])