THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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MAKOS 21-24 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications
for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.
1) THE PUNISHMENT FOR ONE WHO SPEAKS "LASHON HA'RA"
QUESTION: The Gemara says that a person who speaks or accepts Lashon ha'Ra
or false testimony is fit to be thrown to the dogs, since the verse places
the words "it (he) shall be thrown to the dogs" (referring to the meat of a
Tereifah animal)" (Shemos 22:30) adjacent to the Isur of saying false
testimony or Lashon ha'Ra (Shemos 23:1).
2) THE EFFECTS OF A SINGLE MITZVAH
In what way is this a fitting punishment for the transgression of speaking
(a) The ME'IRI writes that the Gemara means that a person should be thrown
to the dogs after his death. His corpse is no different than the carcass of
an animal, as the verse says in Tehilim (49:13). (The carcasses of dead
animals were normally used as dog food, see Shabbos 30b.) The Acharonim
point out that the Me'iri's words are based on the SHE'ILTOS in Parshas
Yisro, which add that he should be thrown to the dogs "after his death."
In what way does the person who speaks Lashon ha'Ra lose his "Tzuras
ha'Adam," his uniquely human form, after death? The verse (Bereishis 2:7)
differentiates between Adam and Behemah, man and animal, by saying that an
Adam is "Nefesh Chayah," which the Targum translates as "a speaking being."
While a person is alive, even if he misuses his power of speech, he
nevertheless is different from animals that cannot speak. After his death,
however, he is no different from animals since neither can speak; the body
retains its "Tzuras ha'Adam" after death only if the person elevated his
Neshamah during his lifetime through his speech, such that the Neshamah
retains the unique quality of man after his death.
(b) The MAHARSHA explains that the punishment is appropriate since the dogs
were able to withhold their tongues from barking when the Jews left
Mitzrayim (Shemos 11:7). The one who speaks Lashon ha'Ra was unable to hold
back his tongue, and thus the dogs -- which were able to hold back their
tongue -- avenge the one who was not able to hold it back when it was
(c) It is said in the name of the ARIZAL that the punishment for a person
who speaks Lashon ha'Ra is for his Neshamah to return to this world in the
form of a dog. This might be what the Gemara means when it says that "he
should be thrown to a dog" -- meaning that his Neshamah is cast into the
body of a dog. This punishment is appropriate since a dog damages people by
scaring them with its bark, which can sometimes cause women to miscarry (as
the Gemara says in Bava Kama 83a). This form of damage is similar to the
damage caused by the person who speaks Lashon ha'Ra or bears false
testimony, acts which damage through the use of the tongue.
The Midrash tells us that the brothers of Yosef first tried to sic dogs on
him before throwing him into the pit. According to this explanation, they
might have done this measure for measure, since they suspected him of
speaking Lashon ha'Ra about them (see Bereishis 37:2).
QUESTION: In the Mishnah, Rebbi Chananyah ben Gamliel teaches a Kal
v'Chomer: if a person's soul is cut off (through Kares) as a punishment for
doing one Aveirah, then certainly a person's soul should be given life as
reward for doing one Mitzvah.
What is the Kal v'Chomer? A person's soul is cut off with Kares only if he
does an extremely severe sin, and not for every sin. How, then, can we learn
from the punishment of Kares that when a person performs a Mitzvah, his soul
will be given more life? How do we know that the Mitzvah he does is as great
as the severity of the Aveirah?
(a) The BARTENURA explains that Rebbi Chananyah ben Gamliel is proving the
principle that he mentions earlier in the Mishnah. He means that if a person
can be punished with Malkus for the sin for which he is Chayav Kares, then
if he accepts his punishment and bears the Malkus as an atonement, then
certainly that Mitzvah of accepting the punishment will be enough to give
him back the soul that he was going to lose because of the Kares. This is
why the Mishnah refers to the Mitzvah as "giving him" his soul, rather than
as "protecting" or "preserving" his soul.
According to this explanation, what does the Mishnah mean when it continues
by giving a proof that when a person passively refrains from transgressing
an Aveirah, he receives reward like a person who performs a Mitzvah?
Refraining from an Aveirah has nothing to do with repenting for the Aveirah!
The MAHARSHA writes that according to the Bartenura, this section of the
Mishnah indeed is a new section and is not related to the Kal v'Chomer.
Another possibility is that we are proving from there that a Mitzvah which
corresponds to an Aveirah should be rewarded in a proportionate degree to
the severity of the Aveirah. Such a Mitzvah can be either the repentance for
the Aveirah and acceptance if the punishment of Malkus, or withholding from
sinning in the first place.
(b) The NIMUKEI YOSEF writes that the Kal v'Chomer is teaching that the
performance of a Mitzvah *adds* to a person's life. This is what the Mishnah
means when it says "Tinasen Lo Nafsho."
What, then, is the Kal v'Chomer? Perhaps the Kal v'Chomer was not from the
fact that the Aveirah can be punished with Kares, but from the fact that
every normal Lo Sa'aseh is punishable with Malkus. The Gemara in Sanhedrin
(10a) teaches that Malkus is a substitute for Misah, death, and it is given
when a person really should be killed. It is given as a form of mercy in
order to spare the transgressor from death, even though he deserves death
for transgressing the Torah. The Kal v'Chomer is that if every Lo Sa'aseh
should be punished with death, then certainly every fulfillment of a Mitzvas
Aseh (which is also done through an action) should be rewarded likewise and
should add to a person's life.
(c) The RAMBAM in Perush ha'Mishnayos explains that the Kal v'Chomer is not
referring to physical reward, but to eternal, spiritual reward, and it is
saying that the person's soul will live on and not be destroyed.
Accordingly, the Kal v'Chomer might be proving that if the transgression of
the Lo Sa'aseh is punished with an eternal punishment of Kares, then
certainly the fulfillment of a Mitzvas Aseh also gives eternal reward for
the soul, and not just physical reward in this world.
3) HASHEM GAVE THE JEWISH PEOPLE MANY MITZVOS
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that Hashem gave many Mitzvos to the Jewish
people in order to give them more reward. How, though, does having more
Mitzvos lead to more reward? On the contrary, it gives more opportunity to
transgress and receive more punishments!
4) AGADAH: THE REVELATION OF HASHEM'S ESSENCE
(a) The RIVAN and NIMUKEI YOSEF explain that the Mishnah is referring to the
Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh, the negative prohibitions, that did not need to be given
since we would have refrained from such acts even without the Torah. The
MAHARSHA explains that according to this, when the Mishnah says that Hashem
gave the Jewish people "a lot of Torah and Mitzvos" it means that Hashem
gave more Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh than Mitzvos Aseh in order to enable the Jewish
people to gain more reward from refraining from so many Isurim. The Mishnah
is thus continuing its theme mentioned earlier, that refraining from a Lo
Sa'aseh is considered like the fulfillment of a Mitzvah.
(b) The RAMBAM in Perush ha'Mishnayos explains that when a person keeps even
one Mitzvah with no ulterior motives but entirely Lishmah and out of love
for Hashem, fulfilling every detail of the Mitzvah, then he will merit Olam
ha'Ba. The Mishnah, therefore, is saying that Hashem gave so many Mitzvos so
that a person would find it easy to choose at least one of them and observe
it in an outstanding manner.
(c) The SEFER HA'CHINUCH (Mitzvah 16) writes that although there is a
greater possibility of sinning when there are more Mitzvos to do,
nevertheless the greater number of Mitzvos enables a person to purify and
perfect himself. The word "l'Zachos" in this context does not necessarily
mean "to give merit" but "to refine." Hashem gave more Mitzvos to allow a
person to refine himself more.
Rebbi Simla'i teaches that there are 613 Mitzvos -- 365 Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh,
and 248 Mitzvos Aseh.
The Zohar explains that these Mitzvos are alluded to in the verse, "Zeh
Shemi l'Olam, v'Zeh Zichri l'Dor va'Dor" -- "This is My Name forever, and
this is My Remembrance for all generations" (Shemos 3:15). There are two
parts to the four-letter Name of Hashem. The first half is the first two
letters, "Yud" and "Heh," with which Hashem reveals Himself in this world
(see Eruvin 18b, and Rashi to Tehilim 115:17). The second half is the last
two letters of the Name, "Vav" and "Heh." The Gematriya of the word "Shemi"
(350) combined with that of the first two letters of the Name of Hashem, is
365, which alludes to the number of Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh. The Gematriya of the
word "Zichri" (237) combined with the last two letters of the Name of
Hashem, is 248, which alludes to the number of Mitzvos Aseh.
The VILNA GA'ON at the end of his commentary on Zera'im suggests that this
is why the verse says, "*Zecher* Tzadik li'Vrachah, v'*Shem* Resha'im
Yirkav" -- "The remembrance of the righteous is a blessing, and the name of
the wicked will rot" (Mishlei 10:7). The Tzadik is praised for his active
fulfillment of the Mitzvos Aseh, represented by the word "Zecher," which
alludes to the Mitzvos Aseh, as the Zohar explains. The Rasha is chastised
for his transgression of the Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh, represented by the word
"Shem," which alludes to the Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh, as the Zohar explains.
We may add that the Gemara in Pesachim (50a) explains that the verse, "Zeh
Shemi l'Olam," refers to the two aspects of Hashem's name. In this world,
Hashem's Name is spelled one way ("Yud, Heh..."), but we pronounce it a
different way. This is what the verse means when it says that "this is My
Name l'Olam," where the word "l'Olam" can mean "to be hidden." "Zeh Zichri"
means that "this is the way My Name is to be mentioned," referring to the
way we pronounce the Name ("Alef, Dalet...").
The two aspects of the Name of Hashem encompass the 613 Mitzvos. The silent,
unarticulated part represents the Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh from which a person
should passively refrain. The part that we pronounce represents the Mitzvos
Aseh which we fulfill actively. The Name of Hashem of "Yud, "Heh" is
associated by the Zohar with "Shemi," the Name of Hashem which one may not
pronounce in this world, since both Names (the four-letter Name and the two
letters of Yud and Heh) reflect aspects of being hidden and of a deficiency
in this world with regard to comprehending the essence of Hashem (see Rashi
to Shemos 17:16, who writes that the Name of "Yud, Heh" shows that Hashem's
presence is not revealed in full in this world).
This lack of awareness of His presence in this world is the source of the
fear that we feel for Hashem, whereas the love that we feel for Hashem comes
from the aspects of His presence that He does reveal to us. The RAMBAN
(Shemos 20:8) writes that the Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh reflect our fear of Hashem,
while the Mitzvos Aseh reflect our love for Hashem. This is why the first
half of the verse, which refers to the hidden Name of Hashem, alludes to the
Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh, while the second half which refers to the pronounceable
Name, alludes to the Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh.