RAV YEHUDA YOSEFI AND RAV MEIR SHMUELI SPEAK OUT AGAINST MACHLOKET
As the number of incidents where leading figures in the Torah world are being openly disgraced and derided continues to mount, more leading rabbis have spoken out about the dangers of participating in machloket.
Leading Torah figures Rav Yehuda Yosefi, shlita, and Rav Meir Shmueli, shlita, both gave stark warnings to the religious Jewish public to stay far away from machloket and lashon hara (evil speech), in the wake of the ongoing persecution of Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, and his Shuvu Banim community.
Rav Yosefi said:
“The Vilna Gaon, who we can’t even begin to imagine what a huge spiritual level he was at, wrote in his letters: ‘And so I am warning you, that you should accustom yourself to sitting by yourself, because the sin of evil speech affects everyone. As our Sages wrote [in Tosefta Peah, Alef]: ‘Lashon hara is equal to everything’ [i.e. every sin.] So why would I want to get involved in this terrible transgression, that’s the worst of all sins?’
“The Vilna Gaon continues: ‘It’s impossible to imagine the size of the tribulations and the suffering a person will go through because of even just one evil word.”
LASHON HARA IS THE WORST SIN IN THE WORLD
Rav Yosefi than continued: “The Gaon was basing himself on the words of the Gemara, in Masechet Avoda Zara (idol worship), where it’s written that there are four sins where the main punishment is kept for him in the world to come, but where he’s also punished for them in this world, too, namely:
- Idol worship;
- Promiscuity and forbidden relationships; and
- Murder – and speaking lashon hara is equivalent to all three of these things!
“That’s why the Vilna Gaon wrote that when it comes to every single word of lashon hara, it’s impossible to imagine the size of the suffering and tribulations that are caused by even one incident of evil speech.”
‘KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!’
Rav Yosefi continued:
“Whoever wants to have mercy on themselves, they should keep their mouth shut! You already stopped being the follower of a particular Rabbi? You picked a different Rabbi to follow now? OK – but don’t talk about it! Don’t say a word!
“Someone asked me whether they should get involved in a particularly well-known machloket (controversy / scandal),” continues Rav Yosefi. “So I asked him whether he had a wife and children at home, and he told me ‘yes’. I asked him if he wanted his wife, may she live, to become a young widow, and for his young children to have to say kaddish (the mourners’ prayer) for him? And if he didn’t want those things – then he should keep his mouth shut!
“People should go after whoever they want, but they shouldn’t speak about it to anyone else. Don’t badmouth anyone else!
“I was speaking with a widow whose husband recently passed away from cancer, at the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital. The big professor at Ein Kerem told her that: ‘Us doctors are calling cancer the ‘disease of the chareidim’, because so many chareidi people are being struck with it, much more than amongst the secular population.’ The doctors are very concerned about what’s happening, they don’t know why this is occurring. They want to do some research, to find out what’s causing this. I told this lady that if they asked me to participate in their discussion, I would tell them that the chareidim eat as well as the next person, when it comes to food. The real problem is that they are eating each other alive!”
Rav Yosefi then brought the words of the Chofetz Chaim, ztl, who explained that in the days of King David, they merited to have a very high level of Torah learning and scholarship, but that when they went out to war they were still suffering massive casualties. Why? Because they had in their ranks habitual speakers of lashon hara, like Doeg the Edomite. But, in the days of King Ahab, who was a big rasha (evil doer), his people still won their wars even though they were idol worshipers, because there was love and unity between them.
HASHEM DETESTS MACHLOKET
Rav Yosefi then continued:
“At the end of Parshat Noach, we’re told about the Generation of the Dispersal, who built the Tower of Babel and who wanted to go to war against Hashem, so Hashem scattered them. Rashi asks about this, who was more sinful, this generation or the Generation of the Flood? He then answers that it’s clear that the Generation of the Dispersal were more sinful, because after all, they actually actively tried to fight against Hashem.
“So then, why was the Generation of the Flood completely washed away, while this generation was only scattered? The answer is that the Generation of the Flood were bandits and thieves, and there were a lot of disagreements between them. But, by the Generation of the Dispersal, there was a lot of love and friendship between them. Rashi concludes that we learn from here just how much machloket is detested, and how great is peace.”
Rav Yosefi then said: “The Chofetz Chaim, ztl, teaches us that when a person speaks lashon hara, their prayers aren’t accepted, their Torah isn’t accepted, and that everything is tamei (spiritually impure). About this, the Gemara teaches (Arachin 15): ‘Rabbi Yochanan taught in the name of Rabbi Yossi ben Zimra: ‘Everyone who speaks lashon hara, they’re considered to be a kofir b’ikkar (heretical to his core).
DISEASES COME TO THOSE WHO SPEAK EVILLY ABOUT OTHERS
“As it’s written in Tehillim (12): ‘Those who have said: Because of our tongues we shall prevail, our lips are with us. Who is the master over us?!’ And Rabbi Yossi said: ‘Every person who speaks lashon hara, diseases come to him…’ Reish Lakish said: Why is it written: ‘This will be your Torah metzora (of a leper)? Because it means ‘this will be your Torah of a motzae shem ra (a person who spreads slander)! Each time he speaks lashon hara, his mouth is full of filth, and everything that he says, each word that leaves his mouth is tamei (spiritually impure), thus, he is stricken with tzaarat (leprosy).’”
Rav Yosefi explained: “The Torah of a leper will only go back to being real Torah if he purifies his mouth, and stops speaking evilly. The Torah’s punishment for lashon hara is tzaarat (a spiritual form of leprosy), but in our days there is no Temple, and no Cohanim who can pronounce who is tahor (spiritually pure) and who is tamei (spiritually impure) – so today there is no tzaarat.
“So, the Chofetz Chaim teaches us that today, Hashem decided to switch the punishment for speaking lashon hara from tzaarat to poverty. A poor person is considered to be ‘dead’, and a leper is also considered to be ‘dead’.
“It’s known that the measure of good is always 500 times greater than the measure of misfortune – so guard your mouths! Don’t say anything bad and don’t listen to anything bad! Don’t even stand next to people like that, you should run away from them faster than you would run away from a terrorist. And then, instead of poverty you will be blessed with wealth.”
DON’T DISGRACE ANYONE ELSE
Rav Yosefi concluded his comments by saying:
“The midrash teaches us that ‘every moment and every second that a person keeps his mouth shut, he merits the or haganuz (the hidden light), that no angel or other creation can even begin to imagine.’ And, it’s written in Tehillim 34: ‘Who is the person who desires life, and loves days of seeing good? Guard your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from speaking deceit.’ And by doing this, you will atone for all your sins and be saved from the lower depths of Hell, as it’s written (in Mishlei): ‘A person who guards his mouth (from excessive eating and drinking) and his tongue (from negative speech) is guarded from the tribulations of the soul.’
“Life and death is in the ‘hands’ of the tongue. Woe to whoever kills themselves for the sake of saying even one evil word. ‘There is no solution for a speaker of lashon hara’ (Kohelet), and everyone else will have a healing and a recovery, except for him. And the most important thing is to not speak about anyone even to glorify them, and certainly not to disgrace them. What does a person have to gain by saying these things?
“If you do this, you will merit to stay healthy, and for your family to stay healthy, and you will merit to riches, and even more than all this, the Torah we learn will be ours again. Ashrey! (Praiseworthy) is the person who heeds this!”
RUN AWAY FROM MACHLOKET, EVEN IF IT’S ‘FOR THE SAKE OF HEAVEN’
Rav Yosefi ended by saying:
“Someone once told me, in the name of Jerusalem’s Tzaddikim of the past generation: ‘You should run away from every machloket, but
“when it comes to a machloket for the sake of Heaven – you should run away eight times faster.’ Even Korach believed he was arguing solely for the sake of Heaven.
“Rabbi Yohonatan Eibshitz, ztl, explained that a machloket for the sake of Heaven was the machloket between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel. They argued when they were learning Torah, but there was still only love and unity between them. It the disagreement leads to hatred and to machloket – then that’s not a machloket for the sake of Heaven! And it’s so unfortunate, because people are going to pay a very big price for it.
“Even if you want to take vengeance on someone else, do you really want to bring so much evil down upon yourself?!”
You can read Rav Shmueli’s comments HERE (the link will be live shortly)